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Work Load? I think?


pinewarbler
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Not sure what I'm asking here... but I've never full-time homeschooled, or done classes for other homeschooled kids as some of you have.

 

I haven't posted much this fall as my life belonged to the First Lego League! I temporarily lost my mind and took on 2 teams grades 4-8 to coach. The number of hours devoted to managing the requirements of FLL and the kids was too much time for my family. However, both teams won major awards (most inspirational, best programming) at the qualifier, one team won second and a spot at the provincial (state) championship, and I won coach of the year, which was embarrassing. I will do FLL again, but only 1 team - I couldn't be there guiding each team constantly.

 

Because DS10 was on the experienced team and working with kids with great skill sets, I've learned a lot about him working with a true team, which was great. Unfortunately I am also having that crisis of faith AGAIN with my idea that as long as he has teachers who can enrich his curriculum he'll be fine in school.

 

We had tryouts for the teams from a pool of 1,000+ kids, and got the best. Now, intellectually I know that a PG kid is on his own level and in practise that means a lot of complications as well as advantages. But watching it play out weekly meant that I was having it hammered into my brain, and some weeks it was v. painful  :smash:  

 

His experience, I think, was that he got to program and build with 2 kids who are, for their age, very good. He got to research and write up a science fair project with kids whose writing skills are average, but he was excited about their chosen topic and solution. He taught one other team member some new coding, so that made only 2 of them who could program the complicated sequences, despite having a dad do 2 programming workshops. The team worked seamlessly together (through my strict modelling of FLL core values, etc.) by the last month and he didn't show much stress. I had kids with great values; they were an awesome bunch.

 

However because of DS's level he was consulted by the team on every single aspect of the FLL experience. He had to build the attachments for the robot. He had to create every iteration of the robot they wanted. He had to write all the complicated parts of the science fair project (right now he's writing about hexagonally distributed circle packing -love it!) He had to take almost every hard question from the judge (we had 1 girl who could rock the talking parts). He had to teach coding. Right now, he's editing their project to include answers to all the judges' questions from tournament #1. No one begrudges his participation.. they just see him as a team member. I did see occasional flashes of impatience from him, but he was very controlled overall.

 

He's found ways to engage himself in this season, though...learned some basic trig to write code for a self-correcting path, or something?  :001_huh: He is so persuasive that the team easily chose his topic for their project. 

 

How do you work among chronological peers who are 4-8 years behind you? I mean, he's doing it, and no one is complaining, but he's doing 10 times what the others are doing. Is that fair? Is it appropriate? How is it shaping his world view? He's trying to reinvent trig, and another team member (who gets top marks) asked me how to spell 'add'. I almost started crying that day... all I can see is him doing this for the rest of his life.

 

How could I possibly organize it so others did their share, knowing that much of it is above their level? The only other kid we know who could do all of the aspects of this league is also PG. But she's at another school.

 

I plan to start the team 5 weeks earlier next year, with tryouts 2 months before that. So a lot of prep could be out of the way earlier on, and I could get kids to participate more in the writing/ researching phase, I guess. But I still see him having to edit it all. But as for the building, there's no one else who can build more than basics. Coding, same. Problem solving/ strategy (the most important part of FLL, I think) is still absolutely rudimentary for most.

 

Is this just the lot of these kids?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by pinewarbler
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How do you work among chronological peers who are 4-8 years behind you? I mean, he's doing it, and no one is complaining, but he's doing 10 times what the others are doing. Is that fair? Is it appropriate? How is it shaping his world view? He's trying to reinvent trig, and another team member (who gets top marks) asked me how to spell 'add'. I almost started crying that day... all I can see is him doing this for the rest of his life.

...

I plan to start the team 5 weeks earlier next year, with tryouts 2 months before that. So a lot of prep could be out of the way earlier on, and I could get kids to participate more in the writing/ researching phase, I guess. But I still see him having to edit it all. But as for the building, there's no one else who can build more than basics. Coding, same. Problem solving/ strategy (the most important part of FLL, I think) is still absolutely rudimentary for most.

10 times the output or 10 times the amount of time spent?

If it is 10 times the amount of time spent compared to teammates, then it is whether he enjoys the FLL experience.

If it is 10 times the output with almost the same amount of time spent, then it is what it is. There will always be unequal output because team mates strengths varies. I had a classmate in a group computing project in college that was just weak at computing. However she is extremely patient and meticulous and her project documentation would have easily passed ISO standards. Debugging and compiling all the modules into a final submission is easy for me and take me a short time as long as I have my coffee so that is what end up as my job in the team class project.

 

As for world view, I realized in early elementary school that an MBA is in my future if I want to maximize my abilities. When I don't wish to be team lead, I am good at flying under the radar. The only funny was when in high school and my team had guys and I was the team lead. That was in the late 80s and people would ask the guys how they feel about having a lady team lead.

 

Work wasn't a big issue. I worked in areas where I was surrounded by subject experts who aren't great at operating the office drip coffee machine, disarming and arming the security alarm system and filing tax. Their wives did the tax filing and they would ask for help with the coffee maker. Asynchronous adults at work :) My husband's dept is entirely PhD holders in a niche field,not that it means everyone is gifted but they are able to get along fine intellectually in their subject area.

 

As for robotics, when I was a student, we didn't have competitions until high school. Some of the students in my cohort who won awards are newbies and did not have great academic grades. A senior who won the electronics award at a national level competition had to study very hard to earn his As for further math and physics in the Cambridge exams. A lot was exposure and funding. I was a principal's favorite and had funding approved for all my high school science society expenses. My seniors didn't dare to ask while I was having coffee most mornings with my principal at the school canteen. A Mindstorm set (retail or education) cost around $300. A FLL set cost around $700. A laptop to support the software is another few hundreds.

 

I am in an area that is relatively affluent. Many kids have Mindstorm and laptops at home. Still there are few school teams and every year parents with kids in school would be looking for teams to form or join. We have two sets of Mindstorm at home, a NXT and a EV3. We have been to FLL competitions to watch and my kids have no interest in participating. It just doesn't appeal to them. So there are tinkerers like my kids out there who is just not into FLL at the pre-high school level. The high school level FLL and Vex robotics competitions are more open ended.

Edited by Arcadia
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Does he mind it?

 

I was on an FLL team. I did the vast majority of the coding and the project; I answered the majority of judge's questions. Other teammates did help, though, and there was one team member who did the majority of building the robot and attachments. Also, other team members were great at coming together when judged, especially for core values. I loved that team, and we were extremely successful -- Champion's Award at our regional and district competitions, placed at our state competition and competed at the national championship. There's, imo, a huge, huge difference between producing more output but working with people who are doing their share vs doing the vast majority of the work because the other teammates are fairly useless.

 

For an example of the second, after I aged out of FLL, I was on an FTC team. Bad, bad experience. I did all the coding and engineering notebook stuff, while the rest of them only built the robot. They didn't even do a good job building the robot; they never gave me enough time to code, and never helped with the notebook (the notebook is a huge, huge project [250+ pages]). Coach never backed me up on anything, AND the other kids would complain if code didn't work, even though they didn't give me the time to work on it that I said I needed. They also were extremely disappointed when the engineering notebook that I did all by myself only got second at state. I did put in more time than the other kids, but not significantly so; it was mostly that I produced more output. 

 

Main things that made a difference between the two experiences -- either coach backup or the kids listening to what I said was needed (and not just doing what I said, but working with me to make sure everyone got what they needed), the other kids honestly putting in their best effort, and having someone who did a good job in the area I wasn't great at (building the robot).

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At 10, I found group projects with age peers fun. They were my ideas, my work, and great results for the most part. I was very much so leading the show. By 12 to 13, that was no longer fun. Peers began to get snide, mean, or just expect me to do it. It was no longer feeling accomplishment and thrill. It was feeling "other." If he is still at fun, let it be. He appears to be getting a lot out of it. Just monitor carefully if his attitude changes.

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