RoboParents: Parent Involvement on FRC Teams

Jenny Beatty
2012 FIRST Championship Conferences
April 27, 2012
Non-Engineering Mentor Organization (NEMO)
 Team
Leaders who are parent/guardian:
 FTC: 15.9%
 FRC: 16.7%
 Way
to spend time with their own children.
 FTC: 18%
 FRC: 15%
 FLL: 14.4% (from 2009 evaluation)
Mentors &
1. Communication
2. Schedules
3. Transportation
4. Family structure
5. Team structure
6. Finances
 Technical
 Non-Technical Mentor
 Advocate or Champion for team
 Member of Booster Club
 Event volunteers
Be clear about requirements & expectations
for student to be on team AND for parents.
What is FIRST & GP?
Calendar of season & time commitment &
cost for students & mentor contact info
How homework is handled
Paperwork required, permission slips
 Goal
 Need
is to “boost” the existing program.
to determine:
parent support base, district policies,
constitution & bylaws, officers, meetings,
opening bank account, keeping up with
paperwork and finances.
Soliciting sponsors
Feeding the team during the build season
Team shirts
Team building
Car pooling
Promotion with school board
Some great examples:
 Team
358 -NY– 10 pgs of great information
 Team 1511-NY – list of expectations & parent
sign up letter
 Team 612-VA-Code of Conduct and Student
Contract – also signed by parent
 Team 180-FL-organizational chart
 Attendance
for parents should be a
requirement for student to be on the team*
 Great time to get paperwork signed-FIRST
consent forms, parent contact form, medical
form, driving permission form, school
district-specific forms
 Hand out schedule, sign-up for meals,
 Most
teams have a requirement that parents
provide a meal during the build season.
 Feeding
the team during travel.
 Support
group & information exchange for
all adult mentors in FIRST.
 Offers facilitated meetings at events to
share information
 Private forum offered through No cost to join.
 Resources page on NEMO website
Examples of Roles where Parents can help
your FIRST team
 Administrative
 Mentoring
 Travel
 Social
 Communications
 Food
 Sponsorship
 Outreach
 Spirit
& Image
 Construction
“In most cases, it just took someone to ask for help to get them
“Lead Robot Inspector at CMP started out as a parent volunteer. He and
his wife “stuck around” after his son graduated”.
“All in all, she has basically taken everything she normally does for me
and my brother, and extends it to every kid on the team”.
“A weird extension of parents on the team: most students bring their
parents to the competition. But one of our young teacher sponsors, fresh
out of college, keeps bringing her parents to the competitions. Yes, an
adult is so excited by FIRST that she brought her parents along”.
“I used to take our parental involvement for granted. At a team social at
one of last year's regionals a parent from a local team remarked how they
had to make a couple of trips to get all the kids to the regional. We had
at least one parent for 25 of our 30 kids at the out-of-town regional,
along with grandparents, aunts, and uncles”.
“The importance of parent involvement in a
successful sustainable team cannot be over
“I know there can be a lot of competing
demands for a parents time…And yet, I think
parents should and often do see this not so
much as a burden, but as a incredible once in
a lifetime opportunity. No matter how
challenging being a parent volunteer can be
they should jump at the chance. Such an
opportunity will probably never come again”.
If it's a Saturday night four weeks into build season and you're a Robot Parent, you do.
My husband and I stopped by the shop last night to see what the kids were working on
and to see if we could help with anything. Many of the kids were at the basketball
game since it was a "band night" so we were able to help a couple of the kids get
parts ready for the rest of the team to work on after the game.
After the game 10 or 15 kids came back the shop and started working. A little bit
later, another half dozen other kids who weren't on the team stopped by to see
what their friends were doing. Next thing, a few more parents show up and a
college-aged sibling who has been helping out walked through the door.
So at 10pm on a Saturday night six parents and mentors, 15 team members and
some friends were hanging out machining parts, talking strategy, and chilling. What
a great way to spend the evening.
Then, a parent who doesn't have kids on the team saw the cars in the parking lot
and stopped in to say hi, another set of parents stopped by with a fresh pan of
peanut butter-chocolate rice krispy treats, and another mentor showed up with his
night vision goggles to check out the robot's camera and lights. Did I mention it was
10pm on a Saturday night?
And that's what build season is all about.

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