As a two year team, we face the challenge every year of making sure our entire team is ready for season since half of the team has never been in FRC before. In past years, some knowledge was gained in the off season as our newcomers hung out with the more experienced veterans. However, a majority of the learning was done during the season as the rookies went through the process of building a robot and watching the veterans at work.
This year, we were presented with a unique opportunity when our two FRC classes were combined into one period. With everyone who was taking the class combined into one period, we could provide formal training and make sure that everyone had all the knowledge they needed. But rather than having a series of workshops to just teach skills, we thought that it would be a better learning experience if the team went through a mock season with an actual competition at the end.
The team was split into 4 sub-teams with an equal mix of students who were in the class and those who were not. Most of the senior leads were also not put into a team so they could float around and give advice while allowing the newcomers to take charge and make their own mistakes. Each team was given 6 weeks to build a robot, a small budget for materials, a drive train, and open use of the shop. Students thought of a creative strategy to not only beat the other teams, but to also make the best use of whatever style of drive train they were given.
We also invited a local pre-rookie team, team 6377, the Howdybots, to join in. They received a slightly modified version of our robot from last year, Scorpius, and a standing offer to help in any way we can. Our hope is that in future years, we will be able to invite more teams to come, so we can make a day long competition out of it.