First Team Meeting

Get to know each other

We began with introductions. Many of us knew each other from previous FIRST LEGO League competitions, but many of us didn’t. It is important for everyone on the team to learn each other’s names and understand why we are in FIRST. Before the first meeting, we had taken a poll about what area each student was interested in working on. During introductions, we discovered that it was one student’s birthday. After lunch, we gave him a surprise birthday celebration at a coffee shop.

We also took time to take a team photo. We wanted everyone to feel like they belong to the new team. Why wait till later in the season? Start with a team photo and proudly display the team members so that everyone knows that they belong.

Get to know each other and understand each person’s likes, dislikes and skills. This will help each team member feel respected and valued. Making time for celebrations and getting to know each other is also an important part of team buiding

Team missions and goals

It is very important to start the season right. Everyone, coaches and students, need to be on the same page. Every student and parent also signed a team contract so that they know ahead of time what the expectations are for attendance, costs, and behavior.

At the team meeting, we began by discussing the Core Values and the importance of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition. While the FIRST veterans knew these terms, it is important to teach everyone on the team and let them know that FIRST Core Values will be at the heart of the new team.

Based on Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition, we agreed to three key team core values: RESPECT, LEARN, SHARE. Our team is about RESPECT for each other and respect for others, whether in robotics or not. Our goal is to LEARN as much as we can and put our best effort in everything we do. Finally, we will SHARE our knowledge with each other and our community.

Establish a team mission early and make sure everyone understands the values of your team. This will help establish your team’s culture.

What is FIRST Robotics Competition?

After going through our team mission we decided to introduce FIRST Robotics Competition. We watched last season’s challenge launch videos and then watched videos of actual robot matches at a regional tournament and at Worlds. We also went through Blue Alliance website to learn how teams are scored and ranked and alliances picked. We plan to attend an off-season tournament later in the summer and the fall so that the team members can experience what a FIRST Robotics Competition event is all about.

Understanding what FIRST Robotics Competition is all about and how it is different from FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge is helpful in getting the team in the right mindset.

Get to know the robot

We went through all the main parts of a robot using a Kit of Parts with all the students. Then the mechanical and electrical sub-team constructed a basic chassis. We followed the instructions provided by AndyMark and also watched some videos to learn how to do the wiring. Building the robot was new to everyone on the team and it was great to see our whole team learning. Mistakes were made, but making mistakes is part of the learning process. Our mentors told us that it is okay to make mistakes and that it is more important that we try and learn from failures.

A FIRST Robotics Competition robot is very different from a FIRST LEGO League robot and an introduction of the basic parts gives everyone the same vocabulary to use for the rest of the season. No matter what sub-team a student is on, it is important to understand the team’s robot.

Get to know the programming environment

We set up some programming laptops ahead of time and went over how to use GitHub. The laptops are used, donated laptops. We also set up Robot Builder and vscode. While some students have exposure to Java programming and FIRST Tech Challenge, others don’t. We also made sure that the programmers got involved with getting the final electronics board ready so that they have a better understanding of what they are going to program.

Programming doesn’t need to be an afterthought in FIRST Robotics Competition. Programmers can get involved in discussions about what sensors to use and understanding how everything works. Making sure all the sub-teams are working together from the beginning is very important.

Overall, it was a very productive first team meeting. No one wanted to leave when time was up and everyone wanted to meet again next week!

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