Who can mentor a FIRST® Robotics Competition team?
Mentors are individuals from all backgrounds and disciplines who work with students to share their knowledge and guide them through the season. Many Mentors contribute on a weekly basis during the program season, or support the team with subject matter expertise on an as needed basis. Teams may have additional or more specialized roles or combine roles as needed.
Who can start a FIRST® Robotics Competition team?
Anyone with an interest in changing lives through STEM can start a team – educators, parents, anyone with the time and motivation. Most teams in Washington are school-based. Others are formed through community organizations such as 4-H, YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs, homeschool groups, religious organizations, and even neighborhood groups of friends. If you want to start a school-based team, contact a teacher or administrator to get started.
What is the FIRST® Youth Protection Program (YPP)?
The purpose of the FIRST® Youth Protection Program (FIRST® YPP) is to provide Coaches, Mentors, Volunteers, employees, others working in FIRST® programs, team members, parents, and guardians of team members with information, guidelines, and procedures to create safe environments for everyone participating in FIRST® programs.
The FIRST® YPP sets minimum standards recommended for all FIRST® activities. Adults working in FIRST® programs must be knowledgeable of the standards set by the FIRST® YPP, as well as those set by the school or organization hosting their team.
FIRST expects all teams in the United States and Canada to adhere to all provisions of the FIRST YPP.
How can I find a team to join?
Washington State has around 100 FIRST® Robotics Competition teams each year. Teams are formed in schools, community organizations, and neighborhoods. They can be formed by any interested adult willing to facilitate the team logistics.
Within Washington, many FIRST® Robotics Competitions teams are formed through schools, so the first place to look for opportunities to join a team is with your child’s school. Generally, the school-based teams are open only to students attending that institution because interest often exceeds capacity. If your child’s school does not currently have a team, you may want to work with a teacher or administrator there to help form a team within the school.
Other Washington teams are formed through community organizations such as 4-H, YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Boys & Girls Clubs. Generally, this is only one of many activities that the organization facilitates for its members, but if your child is interested in one of these organizations overall, this might be an avenue to pursue in your local area.
The remaining teams in Washington are formed through homeschool groups, religious organizations or neighborhood groups of friends. While these groups are not specifically closed to other students, they do not usually engage in recruiting members.
Since finding an opportunity with an existing team may be difficult, many experienced coaches and parents advise families new to the program to start their own team. The benefits to your child and for those who have an opportunity to participate are well worth the effort. If you need additional resources or encouragement, contact us at FIRST® Washington.
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Who can coach a FIRST® Robotics Competition team?
Teachers, parents, and technology professionals all make excellent coaches. The coach must be 18 years or older and should have the desire to explore side-by-side with students and have good communication, prioritizing, and multitasking skills. The coach’s role is to facilitate instruction and optimize the learning experience of the team members by allowing independent thought. Direct adult involvement or intervention during the problem-solving process is strongly discouraged.
Coaches handle all the operational details: where and when to meet, organizing help for snacks, team costumes, etc. Coaches do not need technical expertise, but must be willing to acquire some basic knowledge of the program.