The Botball robotics program allows for flexible team structures that can be tailored to fit the needs of each team. With no minimum or maximum number of students allowed per team and no school affiliation requirements, Botball encourages involvement from all types of student groups.
Botball teams are typically made up of 10-15 students. While many teams are affiliated with schools, some teams are organized through clubs such as 4H or Girls Inc. Others are community teams that are made up of a group of students who are home schooled or whose schools are not participating. Any team of middle or high school aged students is eligible to participate as long as they have an adult team leader.
The Botball program can be implemented in a number of ways. Some teachers integrate the program into their regular classroom activities, while others offer the program as an after school activity, usually in conjunction with a robotics/technology club.
Organizing Large Teams
When involving a large number of students on one team, it is often helpful to split the team into focus groups who will then focus on one specific part of the program. Your team may want to consider implementing focus groups such as: a building team, a programming team, a documentation team, a website team, a publicity team, and a project manager.
As each Botball kit has enough materials to create two robots; you may also choose to divide the group into two teams, each building their own robot.
There are a variety of ways to get students involved in Botball and as such, we’ve included a few ideas to help jump start your recruiting efforts.
Enlist the help of other student organizations. Organizations such as your school’s newspaper or yearbook staffs may be interested in helping to document your team’s progress through school and community newspaper articles and photographs. In addition, students in art classes might be interested in working on the graphic design portion of your website.
Use school wide announcements, fliers, and visits to other club meetings to advertise an informational meeting for any students interested in designing robots using Lego pieces. Be sure to make clear the date, time and place of the meeting.
Ask science, math, technology teachers and guidance counselors to submit names of students who might be interested. Invite those students to the interest meeting.
Give a presentation at a PTA meeting to let more parents know about the program and/or host a night time parent meeting for any parents who might be interested in encouraging their child to join the club and/or interested in helping with the after school program (supervising, supplying snacks, grant finding or mentoring).
When giving a presentation or hosting a meeting, you may want to have access to the Botball website so you can show photos and movies from our media page. You may also want to try inviting a Botball team from a nearby school or last year’s Botball team to give a robot demonstration at your meeting or presentation.
Your First Team Meeting
Just like professional work groups, Botball participants must form a functioning team in order to be successful. As such, you may want to schedule your first team meeting soon after your Botball Educators Workshop to allow for a little team building and logistics time with your team.
You may want to begin your first meeting by using visual tools such as past tournament videos to get students excited and help them understand what Botball is and why they are participating.
The first meeting is also a great time to gather information on each student’s skills and interests and identify roles for each team member. At this point you may also want to decide on a time for regular meetings and work time, as well as answer any questions the students may have.
Now that everyone has been assigned a position within the team, you may want to lead the students in team building exercises to get them better acquainted and comfortable with each other. You could also use this time to get the group excited by discussing strategies for this year’s Botball game.