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Webpage: Robotics Clubs Information

Students Create RobotsThis informational Webpage on robotics clubs from RoboRealm provides resources and helpful tips for running a robotics club, as well as an international directory of clubs. It also features an online club that can be connected to from any location.

Here are some RoboRealm tips on starting a robotics club:

1) Pick a time and place to meet.

It doesn’t have to be a formal setting and is often a school/college classroom, a library, local restaurants, or even someone’s house or garage. With increased attendance you will want to move to a spot more appropriate for greater numbers of participants. Most clubs don’t pay to use their premises but often enter into an agreement with the local establishment. Keep in mind that most clubs do not meet where robotic equipment or hardware is stored. Typically, meetings will happen in generic locations, with alternately scheduled workshops held where welding, soldering, programming, etc. can occur.

Many robotic clubs meet once a month on a designated schedule, i.e. the first Saturday of each new month,  and then work on a case-by-case basis, factoring in interruptions such as vacations or holidays.

2) Get the word out!

Tell your friends, classmates, and email contacts. Post your new club on as many Robotic sites as possible (you’ll be surprised at how many people use the Web to find local clubs). Create a website or discussion group where people can communicate outside the meetings. Many internet sites, like Google and Yahoo, allow you to create groups specific to your club. You may also want to create a Website for hosting  images or documents you want to post. Pictures of a robot club/competition are a great way to attract new members.

3.) Create a meeting agenda.

A basic meeting outline is available here.

4.) Generate interest!

Many people are interested in robots and most will readily attend a robotic meeting. Take care that your  club doesn’t become a spectator sport, in which only a few individuals present their robotic adventures, with the  rest becoming “audience,” to be entertained. One of the best ways to jolt all members into becoming builders instead of spectators is to arrange competitions. Many competitions have already been suggested, held, and refined by other robot clubs. Check out other clubs’ websites for rules and regulations surrounding competition. Contests range from basic line following, table wandering, sumo competitions, or talent shows.

Prizes for competitions usually include trophies. You can find many places online to create inexpensive trophies. While cash incentives are nice, they can also create negative feelings and change the nature of what should be a fun learning experience.

While competitions draw interest to the club and provide motivation for building robots, you’ll need to be sensitive to members’ time commitments. Holding a competition every 6 months to a year, rather than once a month,  may be more reasonable and feasible, depending on your group.

5.) Dues.

Some clubs collect dues; many do not. Other clubs have volunteered dues. Dues typically range from $10 to $20 a year, which is enough to fund the purchase of trophies and perhaps the occasional donuts for meetings. If you do collect dues, be sure to you specify what they are for.

Creating a club requires some time. If you’re 100% occupied with other tasks, you may want to pass on the undertaking. Once you’re created a club, you’ll  have to be consistent with meetings to ensure a steady stream of attendees.

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