ThinkTank Development Team
190 WPI & Mass Academy
1735 WPI / Burncoat H.S.
155 Berlin FIRST

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Nick Galotti graduated from WPI in 2005 with a degree in Computer Science. He has been involved in FIRST robotics since 1997 and now advises a team out of Burncoat High School in Worcester, MA. He is also active in FLL by writing the scoring software for all the Massachusetts tournaments and advising a team out of Burncoat Middle School. He also helped write and manage the ThinkTank.

Team Spirit Presentation

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A presentation given at the 2008 Rookie Workshops in Manchester, New Hampshire to give rookie teams an idea of what happens at competitions and how to prepare for them. The presentation covers choosing team names, team colors, t-shirts, and what buttons are.

Team Spirit and Preparing for Competitions

What is Team Spirit?

According to Princeton Wordnet they define "team spirit" as: "The spirit of a group that makes the members want the group to succeed."  This definition hits the core idea that team spirit affects not only the way people feel but also their pride in their team and need to succeed. 

Why Have Team Spirit?

Team spirit is important to a robotics team.  It creates a reason for students to want to come back year after year because they want to see the team succeed.  Over time the students will want to see their team succeed so much that they may even take on leadership roles to make it happen.  This is a great time for students to take on leadership roles and learn to work with others and their talents.

Another benefit of team spirit is it creates a nice entry for parents to get involved in the team.  By asking parents to create some noise makers or cosutmes it will get them engaged with the team.  Once they are engaged it is easier to ask them to do more for the team.

Team Building

A big part of team spirit is feeling like a team.  This can be done through a multitude of team building exercises. These often include games to get new students talking to the old students.  A search on the web for "ice breakers" should yield thousands of options. 

Team Identity

There are many parts to a team identity and they all lead back to making the team feel like a team.  While the items listed below aren't required they each have their role.

Team Name

A team name is what a team is known by.  There are many ways to pick a team name ranging from using the schools athletics team name to making a random one up. Often it is a good idea to use a name that has meaning and something the team can get behind. There are several good examples to use but for brevity here are three examples:

  • Team 190: Gompei & the HERD - This team name originates from a story the sponsor has about a goat keeper named Gompei and his goat from the 1890s.
  • Team 236: Techno Ticks - The Techno Ticks are from Lyme - Old Lyme, CT.  In creating their name they took something their town is (in)famous for and in the process got the surrounding community involved.  Lyme disease originated in Lyme, CT which is where the disease got its name.
  • Team 1735: The Green Reapers - At the high school where the Green Reapers are from the gym is known as the green graveyard because the basketball team would win every game in the 70's.  The team took this idea and expanded upon it to come up with the Green Reaper concept.

Team Colors & T-Shirts

A team color may seem like a last minute thought but teams get defined by their color.  Team 88: TJ2 is forever going to be known for their red, blue, orange, and yellow tie-dye.  Team 365: MOE is forever going to be known for their bright green t-shirts.  Picking a color is not easy unless it is dictated by the sponsor or school.  A color should be something that sticks out in a crowd to make it easier to find a team.  This is most important for the leaders of the team so they can find their students in a crowd fast.  The problem with finding a color that sticks out is everyone else is doing the same thing so sometimes colors like white or black will be what sticks out the most.  The team color shouldn't just be used on the team t-shirt either.  Having the robot, controls, crate and other objects the same color is a great way to build an identity with a team color.

Buttons / Pins

A long tradition in FIRST is to trade pins/buttons at competitions.  These are usually 2 1/4" diameter buttons with a pin back.  Much like presidential campaign pins.  Teams often make their own using button makers or pay companies to make them for them.  The more interesting a button a team has the more valuable it becomes because everyone wants to have one.  This part of a robotics competition is a great way to meet people from other teams and have a chance to talk to them.

Other

There are other ways to have fun at competitions from pom-poms to facepaint to fancy costumes.  The sky is the limit provided it is allowed in the rules.

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