1. Anonymous

    How come I can’t see the team names on your map? Would be nice to know who else supports or is part of the community to connect with. Thanks

  2. Anonymous

    I am exhausted from having to play against adults. it’s such a farce. All the student built robots don’t stand a chance against a professionally designed and built robot. It makes me sick.

  3. Anonymous

    As our team’s lead mentor, I’m (perhaps comically) proud to say my students know SO much more about robotics than I do. I just lead in a supporting role and just try to make the “behind the scenes” work (food orders, school finances, travel, etc.) are handled so they can focus on what they do best (which is designing and building robots!). While my lack of expertise might put our team at a disadvantage competitively, it means that our team is able to be truly student-led. And our industry mentors are also really good about supporting with questions/advice without actually doing it for them (and if they weren’t I’d address it!).

    1. anonymous

      Some teams have to have adults do work due to school district limitations/policies on how old you need to be to use certain more dangerous tools, like chop saws, etc.

  4. John Pyeatt, Team 1828

    I wholly believe that the students are the focus, and when they learn, we all win, regardless of how well the robot performs. When you take away either designing, building and/or programming, what then is the point of the organization? I’ve been in this for many years and I still am because of what the students get out of this program, not for trophies and accolades.

  5. Anonymous

    Right now, our students come up with the initial ideas, the mentors base a design (CAD model) around that, and then the students build the bot. Programming is harder to say. We have very few students interested in it and it seems like there are not very many resources (or at least easily understandable or accessible ones) for programming

  6. Anonymous

    On our team the mentors and adults arent allowed to touch the robot. The literal whole point of FIRST is for students to compete and learn.

  7. James Perrotti

    Thier should be no adult coaches or mentors on the floor when the teams are competing. Watched to many times when an adult was wearing the coach button and making all the calls on the floor by intimidating the other youth on the floor. Watched them tell other teams to stop trying to compete when their robot went down so the other two teams would not get extra ranking points over them.

  8. Tim Kölbl

    I think the trick is to get people to understand that FIRST is not about winning. That is the root of this problem in my opinion. The general mindset around the competitive aspect of the FRC has slightly shifted in the past few years. Back then there were no kitbots or prebuilt swerve modules. I‘m all for giving teams a baseline like the AM14U5 chassis from andymark, so they can compete. But in my opiniton the amount of prebuilt mechanisms currently available for purchase is blowing this concept way out of proportions. The focus of FIRST should entirely be on the students learning and experiencing as much as possible and not on winning a competition. While I do not 100% agree with the proposed solutions, the one i like the most is that the mentors shouldn‘t touch the robot or the keyboard. Just with the exception of teaching students how stuff works.

  9. Dale Yocum

    I’m completely supportive of this initiative. It’s been the case on 1540, the FGLaming Chickens, and now on 6665 the C-Otters in Monterey that adults don’t touch the robot or the keyboard. That being said, it seems that FIRST has doubled down on it’s stance of not taking a position on how much involvement a mentor should have. That may have been as a result of this initiative. Most people you talk to outside of FIRST just assume these are student designed and built robots. They are quite shocked to learn otherwise. I’m surprised especially that a school’s administration would be supportive of a team using their space and resources wouldn’t be insistent on that.

  10. Samuel Gasser

    Thank you for this opportunity to give voice to this small but important issue. I think every team talks about this issue.

  11. Anonymous

    If mentors cannot teach students, then this whole program is a failure. My students are taught how use tools, think like engineers and problem solve. Sure, our robot isn’t the best, but they’re the ones who made it, they’re the ones who learned from their mistakes, they’re the ones who actually gain something. I do not need to touch the robot, nor type any code. The students not only are taught by us, but support the younger kids, by teaching them. All of my students are far more advanced by the time they graduate and get to college they actually learn not only engineering and other stem related things, but they learned how to deal with other people, to work in a group. At OC regional, far too many students I have talked to have told me they’ve never touched the robot, they never had any input. How sad is that? How much of a failure is that to our students? If we don’t allow our students to fail, to make something that isn’t perfect, how on earth are they going to succeed in life?
    This is not football, winning should have never been the goal.

  12. Lisa Marie

    Thank you for this. As a small school with a newer team, we don’t have the number of experienced mentors as many other teams. It is depressing to show up at competitions and see robots that look like they were built in a professional manufacturing facility, while yours is just a simple scratch handmade pop riveted robot that looks like it was built by students in a small storage closet.

  13. Anonymous

    Totally support this effort – it is much needed. There may need to be different guidelines for rookie teams for the first year or two they compete, until students have enough training and confidence. After that, student-led should absolutely be the priority for any team.

  14. TV

    The biggest change that needs to happen in FIRST Robotics is culture, and the true purpose of a mentor. It takes training, better resources, and support. All aimed to how to teach students effectively with using a guiding approach, even having a conference of some sort to could help

  15. OB

    This season will be my third on my team’s drive team. At competitions, I find trying to strategize with other teams through their adult mentors frustrating and often one sided. I feel the same about mentors at drive stations. I find the most fun part of FRC to be the competition events. Seeing this part of the competition being taken away from the students, whether that be mentors interacting with other teams for their own team, or breathing down the necks of the drivers, it takes away from what I believe FRC is. After all, this competition is for students and their growth, not the mentors.

  16. BM

    Our team has had issues with mentors being over involved in the past, and we were lucky enough to solve the issues and fix the team in a quick manner. I hope that I can help in any way to make sure other teams aren’t being run by or decided upon people who should be supporting, not leading.

  17. Anonymous

    this problem extends to the available resources and funding sources across a region. Rich teams win, poor team loose! if all the fathers work at Boeing you are all set!

  18. NJ

    Like the name implies, the focus of a mentor should be MENTORING. I see no problem in mentors HELPING the kids build the robot, but as some of xxxx’s mentors say, the robot is basically a pet project for some mentors and it’s done entirely by them. I feel like making contributions is OK as long as kids are learning, but the moment it becomes a mentor project, that’s a serious problem. I do like the idea of an adult FRC League though haha

  19. Anonymous

    Thank you guys so much for speaking out. I just recently discovered this, but I wish I had earlier, what you guys are doing is really powerful and I hope I can get involved.

  20. Anonymous

    teams that have the mentors doing almost all the work should not be able to receive awards and accolades for their performance

  21. MH

    Mentors are called mentors for a reason. They are, obviously, supposed to help teach the students in their team. If they end up building the entire robot themselves, they have failed as mentors, and at that point they are abusing FIRST as a program.

  22. JG

    As a mentor, you have to put the students’ needs first. We are constantly monitoring this balance of mentor/student contributions to our team’s work. It is not a perfect science as each year brings a different constellation of students and mentors. Our team’s bylaws and handbook require us to be student-led and our team decision-making process and structure support this. At the end of the day, it all depends on the culture of the team and the mentors’ ability to find the right balance between showing, exploring, and doing. We’ve been burned by going too far in both directions over the years, which has taught us so much about mentoring. Knowing how to do something and knowing how to mentor are not one and the same. Simply liking to build stuff isn’t enough to be an effective mentor. Knowing how to interact with students in ways that advance their learning, confidence, and a sense of empowerment to take healthy risks, is what mentoring requires, imho. I wish you all the best in your advocacy. Know that the courage you are modeling really are emulating FIRST values.

  23. Anonymous

    We see the same problem in our area. The coaches/mentors teach the students after the robot is built how to drive it. Since the beginning as head coach/mentor, I am a firm believer as much as possible for students to do the work unless it is something dangerous. Our mentors do help guide the students, as mentors should, but the students do the majority of all the work from start to finish. Thank you for courage for taking this task on.

  24. JJ

    I really do agree with your cause and it’s very bold of you to speak up about it. We don’t have as serious of an issue, but there has been times, especially during design, where it feels like “is our mentor doing this or us?”

  25. Anonymous

    Maybe for teams there should be a budget max so teams with less funding can have the same amount equality with finances on their team.

  26. Anonymous

    Thank you for speaking out. I can assure you that mentor involvement is a problem for teams across the globe, and this is an important step to fixing that.

  27. DN

    from the Leadership team of 5027 we hope it goes well for you! If you would like any help and support, we are happy to help with creating a code of conduct for all FIRST teams 🙂

  28. Anonymous

    Yeah I agree on our team the mentors and adults arent allowed to touch the robot. The literal whole point of FIRST is for students to compete and learn.

  29. L

    We see the same problem in our area. The coaches/mentors teach the students after the robot is built how to drive it. Since the beginning as head coach/mentor, I am a firm believer as much as possible for students to do the work unless it is something dangerous. Our mentors do help guide the students, as mentors should, but the students do the majority of all the work from start to finish. Thank you for courage for taking this task on.

  30. Anonymous

    Mentors need to mentor and teach the student members of their team. If they build the robot themselves, they aren’t doing their job.

  31. J

    It takes a brave person to bring something like this forward, and though I have my doubts about FIRST actually doing anything about it, I genuinely wish you luck. As a coach/mentor on a team that is mostly student run I want all students to have a great experience in FIRST and wish you only the best.

  32. Anonymous

    The rule on our team is mentors hands off. We support, educate, train, and advise. We will never be the equal of some of these teams. We have long talked to our students that they are here to learn and grow, NOT to win. We feel that trying to win is a waste of time against some of these teams. Some robots look like they were designed and built under government contract. I just kind of wonder why that is? Maybe the mentors are very supportive?

  33. Anonymous

    Destination Imagination has a great set of rules for adult involvement and it would be wise of FRC to look to them for guidance

  34. Anonymous

    On our own team as well, I’m also concerned about the level of adult control building the robot . Kids’ ideas are often discarded in favor of the mentor’s ideas.

  35. Anonymous

    I just heard about your situation and it saddens me so I would like to be counted as a supporter of your project. Kudos to you all for initiating change.

  36. Anonymous

    I applaud you for your efforts. As a teacher, mentor, and having over 21 years mentoring in the FIRST universe, I understand the importance of having students ‘do the work’. I also know how intimidating it is to be able to speak up freely knowing the culture you are in. You are showing courage and responsibility by speaking up about this given your circumstances. I know first hand of teams from FLL, FTC, and FRC who have mentors who dominate the workspace. I shrug my shoulders and simply pride myself on the fact that I know the success of our team comes from the students. I hope your campaign to allow students to speak up is successful and that students on the team are allowed to participate more directly. The rewards of doing the job are much greater than the awards that are won. It sounds like you have great support across the FRC world and I wish you all the best in your mission.

  37. Anonymous

    If adults truly come to a HIGH SCHOOL robotics competition and seek an unfair amount of influence, especially as in the case with 2910, thats quite honestly pathetic. Such a thing limits the opportunities given to the thousands of students giving their lives to helping their team and fairly using mentors as a guide, not an advantage.

  38. KF

    I’m sorry for the situation you find yourself in; that’s miserable and not in the spirit of what FIRST is about. I’m not sure the solutions you suggest to address the problem would help, however, because it’s hard to see how they could be enforceable. I approve of the idea of having a code of conduct for adults, and I hope you can get that implemented.

  39. Anonymous

    As someone who has been involved in FRC for the entirety of my high school career, there are few things I value more than the skills and experiences that I have gained while on a team, many of which I would of missed out on if my team wasn’t “student-run”. Our mentors, while passionate and knowledgeable, do not step in to design or build the robot. They instead act more like consultants who recommend organizational or decision making strategies. Even all of the behind-the-scenes stuff like coordinating with school admin, setting up fundraisers, gaining and retaining sponsors, communicating with parents, managing monetary accounts, etc. is left up to the student leadership team. While this approach has earned the team its fair share of criticism, it has overall allowed them to preform to a very high caliber in an extremely inspiring environment uniquely akin to a real workplace. While I recognize that this approach will not work for all teams and is greatly dependent on the character of both the adults and students involved, I sincerely hope that your team can improve itself to the point where all members are once again excited and motivated to genuinely participate.

  40. Anonymous

    I am ardently opposed to any sort of mentorbotics. It’s inequitable and defeats the point of the FIRST Robotics Competition. Students should build robots, not mentors. It would be like adults playing on the high school football team for adults to build the robot in FRC.

  41. M

    I know this is a problem everywhere. I always instruct new mentors and team members to pay attention to what goes on in the pits. I tell them that whoever you see working on the robots the most are the people who built it. If there are no kids in the pits when things go wrong, they’re doing FRC wrong. When things go wrong, I provide guidance when asked, and then I leave the pits and let the kids do their thing. It’s their robot and their learning experience!

  42. B Johnson

    I feel that Woodie and Dean did not intend for mentors to build for the students and that they would also want this problem addressed. I had the opportunity to talk to Woodie once. He was super nice, and he’s loved talking about all of the great resources for kids to learn. They really mean it when they say it’s not about winning. The learning is supposed to be the winning part.

  43. Anonymous

    I definitely support kids doing the work. When I started with FIRST, it was explained to me that the adults guided (by showing and helping some of the time), so that adults ended up doing about 20 percent and the kids did 80 percent of the work. That seemed reasonable since some of the kids had no experience with tools and programming and whatever. But I have seen many teams that it’s almost reverse of that. A Houston team actually told our team that they didn’t touch the robot at all until it was time to learn to drive it. That’s insane. They are, of course, one of the top teams. Their NASA mentors did all of the building.

  44. Anonymous

    Thanks for reaching out. We’ll email FIRST and our Coach will email FIRST Washington. We totally support what you’re pushing for. We noticed that there is too much of a focus on winning at all costs and not enough work to ensure the teams are student-led in FIRST. We are trying to push for reforms that would address this because it is an equity issue. Keep up the good fight!

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