Choosing The Long-term Problem

Choosing The Long-Term Problem
by Merritt Booster, Redwood Region
Realize that fundamentally, it’s the team’s choice – not yours.
  • External limitations: The problem must be open to the team’s Division.
  • Only one team per division per membership can select each problem. Check with the coordinator or other coaches to see if any problems must be eliminated.
Early in team formation, discuss team members’ strengths and interests.
  • Ask team members to write down their strengths, as well as new skills they’d like to acquire.
  • Have students share these reflections. These could even be charted out for the team.
Introduce the team to the different TYPES of problems, without going into specifics.
  • How do their strengths and interests fit the different TYPES of problems?
Read the Problem Synopses.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of each.
  • Vote on 2 or 3 problems to look into fully.
  • Homework for each team member: Read each problem selected, and be prepared to discuss the problems.
Next meeting:
  • Read the problems again and list the required elements of each. (The basic elements can be found in the A section of each problem.) Example: Problem 1 – Driver’s Test
  • Team must build a vehicle driven by one or more team members.
  • The driver must be a character taking a driving test and must accomplish three tasks.
  • The vehicle must use at least two different propulsions, one to travel in reverse.
  • The vehicle will encounter a directional signal and have a GPS system that talks to the driver.
  • The team must create a theme that incorporates all these elements.
Discuss the overlapping elements in the problems. All problems include some elements of:
  • Drama/Acting/Script Writing/Presentation
  • Structural/construction elements
  • Technical elements
  • Art/Music/Dance
The team votes on which Long-term Problem interests them most.
  • If the vote is split, have each group list what they like about their choice.
  • Discuss the elements and see if elements are found in the other group’s list (overlap).
Vote again.
  • If one team member really doesn’t want to do the selected problem, see if a match can be made to an element of the problem.
What does the coach do if the team’s choice doesn’t fit his/her interests and skills?
  • Celebrate! Now there’s less temptation to hint/suggest/outside-assist.
  • Less frustration that the team isn’t doing it the “right” way.
  • Remember, if the team chooses a “technical” problem such as Problem 1, 2, or 4, and technical is just not your thing, it’s fine to connect the team members to someone who can demonstrate and teach technical skills, so long as the interactions are in a general, not-problem or solution specific, fashion. No Outside Assistance!