How it'd been done in the past
In the past, robotics topics have been taught sequentially. Monday we teach the kids the basics of mechanical design. Tuesday we teach the kids more about mechanical design and specifically give them tips on how and where to attach wheels, how to turn, etc. Wednesday we teach them programming, Thursday is a work day, and Friday they compete.
In 2012 the first 30 - 45 minutes of every day was a presentation. On Monday, Amelia McDermott gave a mechanical presentation. On Tuesday, Morgan Gebhart gave a robotics presentation. And on Wednesday, Andrew Nelson gave a programming presentation.
Presenters interacted well with the students - posing questions and getting lots of audience input. After each presentation, the kids were very excited to start working on their robots.
Presentations tended to lack a visual aspect. It might have helped to have re-used power points from 2011.
Alternatives to maybe try in the future
One person from each team goes to a different presentation every day (each in a different room)
About half the kids come in with the mindset of "I'm going to be a build person" or "I'm going to be a programmer" and so during the presentations that aren't relevant to their mindset they doze off. Also, presentations en masse tend to feel like you're in a lecture hall. The size of the class inhibits interaction with everyone and sounds chaotic. Instead, how about every presentation is given every day to a third of the kids. Every day the kids are going to decide who's going to mech A, mech B and programming and their mentors will make sure everyone sees every presentation at least once. That way there's at least one person in each team who knows how to do everything.
No lectures - team mentors teach students
While it unfortunately requires mentors to know what they're doing, it ensures students are getting adequate one-on-one time and allows teaching to be more dynamic as the group's needs are more specifically met.
How to make teams
There are a few very distinct types of student who tend to go to summer camp:
The selfless: These tend to be older, don't complain ever, and won't fight to get their hands on the robot or talk over other people. They play nicely with everyone but probably won't have enough fun if paired with an UnableToShare.
The UnableToShare: These kids (often boys) tend to be younger or very experienced. They need to be reminded consistently to share the robot. Regardless of how their team is or how their robot performs, they will have fun.
The Victims: These kids (often girls) will say something out loud to nobody in particular, then when nobody does what they say they'll assume it's because they're hated and sit in the corner alone (especially when paired with an UnableToShare). The most important thing is that they get listened to. Mentors will have to sit the rest of the group down and ask them politely to listen quietly to the Victim. If nothing else, letting them vent to the mentor will make them feel much better. If they don't get heard from by someone they won't have fun.
The Victims and the Selfless should be paired together. The Selfless will make the Victims feel heard, and the Victims won't hog the bot from the Selfless. The UnableToShares should be pared with other UnableToShares because regardless of if they're fighting over the robot the whole time they'll have fun.
In 2012 we had 22 kids. Please, please, please don't enroll more kids than this. Teams of 4 are perfect, teams of 3 are acceptable. Teams of 5 always have trouble dividing the workload. Enrollment always goes up close to the end of deadline.