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  • New activity this year?

    My region was at 33 percent normal size last year. I am really hoping that the numbers are closer to normal this year. What are your plans this year? What did you do last year?

    I am a coach and this is my 8th year. The last six years have been at a Middle School in Norfolk, VA. Last year we had a team, but most of our practices were virtual. This year we are returning to "normal". Looking forward to the season release tomorrow!
    Norfolk, Virginia, USA
    FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

  • #2
    We took last year off. I just could not justify spending the money to register a team, but then do virtual practices and competitions. I'm hoping that this year to closer to normal. I haven't registered a team yet, but I hope to get enough students interested to register a team soon. I really hope the the competitions happen as in the past cause that's what the kids really enjoy. If I do have a team it will be mostly a rookie team, so back to the basics.


    • #3
      We took last year off as well. I think kids need to be physically together to work on physical projects (like building a robot). Having said that, I'm sure there's a lot of virtual collaboration possible for certain aspects such as programming or project research.

      This year, all my kids and their families are vaccinated.


      • #4
        Interesting that all of the kids are vaccinated. That must mean you only have maybe 7th and 8th graders? Hard to guarantee sixth graders as being vaccinated since the cutoff is currently 12 years old. I'm vaccinated but the thought of possible infecting kids terrifies me, even though the risk is relatively low (but absolutely possible). It goes without saying I'm going to be very very careful.
        Norfolk, Virginia, USA
        FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014


        • #5
          I believe my region had about 25% of the usual number of teams last season. I have not heard yet if registrations have increased this season. All events were remote last season. The current plan this season is for a mix of remote and hybrid/in-person events. The following is information that came from our regional partner a few weeks ago.


          High Tech Kids is committed to protecting our teams and volunteers while delivering quality events. Our goal is to host fully in-person events, however last year taught us to be flexible and to have multiple plans. Due to the current pandemic outlook we are currently planning to offer teams a choice between remote and hybrid events.

          Remote events will be fully remote, and managed as they were last year on Discord.

          Hybrid events will be in-person, but with less people and for shorter periods of time at the venue. A group of teams will be cycled through all of their judging and robot runs within a 2 hour span. Once teams have finished they will be asked to leave, surfaces will be cleaned, and another group will cycle through. The awards ceremony will be aired on the High Tech Kids Twitch TV channel at approximately 5:00 PM. Medals will be distributed at check in and trophies will be mailed. Watch for more details to come.

          We will be following all CDC and MN Department of Health guidelines as well as any directives from our host schools for any in-person event, including hybrids. At all in-person High Tech Kids events, masks will be required for participants, spectators and volunteers. To help with crowding we will limit pit access and judging to team members and two adults only. We also ask that spectators socially distance while viewing the robot game.

          We strongly encourage anyone intending to attend our in-person/hybrid events, and eligible for the vaccine, be vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the season as we do not know what requirements our facilities may impose.


          • #6
            My region (southern NJ) had 60-ish teams for the City Shapers season.
            Last season (Replay), we had low 20s.
            So far there are 30 teams registered in our region (per a meeting last week with our PDP).

            The plan right now is for in person competitions, but our Qualifiers are mid-January/early February, with our regional Champs in March.

            I moved from Explore to Challenge last season, and my team met completely remotely. There were advantages and disadvantages. We had 5 kids between 3 households, two houses had tables with full setups, and all 3 houses had EV3 sets and mats (those extra mats and Challenge sets were so helpful last season).

            This season, I have a completely different team. None of them are vaccinated yet though both of us coaches are. Our plan is to meet outdoors as much as possible (masks optional when outdoors), and when we have to meet indoors, masks required and I'll be opening all the windows in that part of my house. We may end up meeting hybrid - in person once a week and then Zoom/email if we need to interact more, which I foresee once we get passed the first few weeks of the kids figuring out what they are doing (my kid is the only with FLL Challenge experience).
            FIRST alum/mentor/volunteer since 1999


            • #7
              Last year Iowa had 160 teams when they usually have 360. I'm in my sixth year coaching and we participated last year during COVID. We met in person with masks and moved completely online several times. All competitions were online and we participated from our basement. We had a couple scares where kids got sick a day or two after a meeting, but no COVID and no transmission of illness. That team eventually was all vaccinated for the Greek Invitational (online of course) and aged out. This year I am coaching one team and mentoring three teams. All rookies. Most team members are younger than 12 and masks are required for coaches and students at all meetings. I'm hoping we can compete in person, but I'm not overly optimistic at the moment.


              • #8
                I work with a local non-profit in Long Beach, CA. We typically host 1-2 FLL teams.

                We took last year off because we couldn't figure out a real way to do the robot builds without meeting.

                This year we've had the largest interest in our program ever. We have 20 kids signed up and are fielding 3 teams. This is leading to its own challenges. ;-)

                Our region is still waiting for the results of a survey on whether to go in-person/hybrid/remote. Between that and how the winds of the pandemic shift, we'll see how it goes.
                FLL Mentor/Coach 2006-2019
                Founding Mentor for FRC 1759: 2006-2012
                Founding Mentor for FRC 4999: 2016-2020
                FRC Field Supervisor, Los Angeles 2007-2020
                Manager, Software Development, DellEMC Corp.