The Say Watt? Robotics FTC teams, who are from New Jersey, recently attended the Russian National Championship in Moscow. After hearing about this, we sent them email asking how they got their teachers to allow this and how they fund raised for this, and this is what they said:
I am the coach of Say Watt Robotics. We are independent of any school, so we definitely had to work. There were some kids who were not able to make the trip because of mid-terms and missing too much school. However, we scheduled the trip so they only missed two days of school (we left at noon on Wednesday, so it counts as attending the full day). All of the parents had to write notes to the school saying that the kids were going to miss those two days. We also worked with one of the schools so that the kids finished their mid-terms on Wednesday at 11:30, just before we pulled them out to go to the airport. For this and for World’s, we tell the teachers well in advance. We minimize the missed school days and the kids have to do the work they miss. Most of the teachers are excited about the team and want to see the kids succeed.
I also write letters to the schools about individual students telling the school that a particular person is critical to the team and that we are going to be competing.
It is not perfect, and sometimes it affects grades negatively, but it is the best we can do.
With respect to funding, we have corporate sponsors and we use some of that money to pay for generic travel expenses, but the kids have to pay many of the travel costs themselves. Because we are not school-based, many of the parents accompany the team on its trips. The parents also spend a lot of time trying to arrange the best deals possible for travel.
Coach 3539, 4311, and 5169.
This is useful information, and perhaps we can use it in the future to plan a large scale tour of our own.