Countdown

What is BEST in a nutshell?
        What should I expect in a season?
                Is there training available for teachers?

                    Now that I'm interested, what's the next step?

These and many more questions have probably already come to mind. But let me first say Congratulations! Congratulations, for being one of the elite teachers who are willing to go the extra distance to provide your students this educational experience that they will value for years to come.

These few pages will not be able to answer all your questions, but the information herein will certainly get your team underway. So strap in, imagine a mission control countdown in your head, and get ready to launch your team into a successful BEST experience.

Countdown...

10. First, you need to make sure you understand the big picture and basic facts when it comes BEST. Open the lines of communication with your local hub to let them know you are interested. Monitor the local hub websites (and other hub websites) for information/ideas that might be helpful to you.

9. There are myriads of ways that BEST has been implemented. Each school seems to have its own unique way. Consider some implementation options and make a general plan for your team.

8. Armed with a plan and the background information, you can do some preliminary student recruiting and assistant coach recruiting. If it is typically difficult to sell your peers on new ideas, then you might want to find the students first, then use their influence to help recruit assistant coaches.

7. Think through the plan and make a list of resources that you will need to implement the plan. Work with administration to determine how much support you can expect from the school and how much you'll be asking from the community. You should be willing to modify your plan in order to maximize peer support and student participation. Such flexibility will reward you later when there are others to share the load.

6. Start gathering interested students. It is never too early to start having team meetings. Truly successful teams form "clubs" that meet year round. The administration, other teachers, and other students will be easier to recruit if you have a core of excited students already in place. 

5. Prepare paperwork that will be used by your team (Permission form to participate, Safety contract, Safety test?, "club" participation contract)

4.  You've already established informal communication with the local hub.  Complete the hub's teacher training requirements. Make sure you follow the formal registration requirements and submit the team registration forms according to their guidelines.  Team signup is generally in the spring.  Hubs may or may not allow late registration in August/September.

3.  In August, exercise a student recruiting campaign and begin regular club meetings.  Club meetings will build comaraderie while providing an opportunity to teach members some basic technical skills (teaming exercises, the design process, drafting skills, tool/safety training).  The team organizational chart should be finalized here. 

2.  Have a parent informational meeting to convey the difference between BEST participation and the typical school program...and the importance of parental involvementConvey the discrete time frame involved and recruit regular participation for the duration of the program (6-week competition plus 1-2 preparation weeks)

1.  Take your prepared team to the local hub kickoff meeting...and Blast off!

Things to Expect after Kickoff:
 

  • A "fire hydrant" like learning experience.  Keep a journal of the every little thing learned so you can review them with the team later and integrate into their class curriculum.
     
  • Teaming challenges and learning opportunities.  Don't let quarreling undermine your team.  Use differences as a learning opportunity.
     
  • Challenges to staying on schedule.   The first goal should be something like "a working robot"...not "a winning polished robot."  If the team chooses designs that are flexible (and built in a modular fashion) the working robot can be greatly improved later without the risk of not having anything to show for all their hard work.
 
 
 
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