Re: Help! Student teacher asked to create some sort of robotics/'geek' club. No idea where to start.
From another educator who used to teach in rural Georgia (US), another consideration is budget.
I've experienced both realms of the financial spectrum regarding financial support. To some degree, it's not as necessary to have the best, the most resources as it is to have "adequate" items along with generous amounts of suitable motivators.
I would also encourage you to seek out members of the business community - even in this dismal economy - and see if any would like to help fund projects.
IMO, there are a zillion really cool projects to kick start a healthy robotics program but the best involves sumo bot competition - or create your own category of "fighting robots"
As the sponsor of a few student robotic organizations over the past 7 years, or so, I'd also recommend paying particular attention to creating a diverse and productive culture. Somehow, if you can drag in a few "non-geeks" their friends will follow, realizing how much fun this stuff can be. The last thing anyone wants to do, as I'm sure you already know, is to alienate anyone - and I really mean anyone.
Early on, I was fascinated by how some of the "behaviorally challenged" and others who were "below average academically" would, when given a fair opportunity, rise to the top and perform with excellence.
I'd also learn from one of my biggest mistakes - somehow you have to make their involvement fun while giving them fast results. This is a phenomenal challenge because today's youths are, on average, incredibly inept at remaining on task. Due to their environmental situation (cell phone connectivity, online gaming, et cetera), they have morphed into a society where attention spans are - again on average - incredibly short.
If you could possibly take the activity you're going to give them and then practice it before, trying to make sure you realize where their road blocks will be, then making sure they will have the resources on hand so they can figure their way out, then you'll have a much higher probability of a successful activity. You have to create a "game" where they can figure it out and it's sometimes difficult for me to resist helping them. When one team figures it out, then the others are motivated - and this happens naturally and healthy competition can be boatloads of fun, providing motivation.
I'm not the world's expert on this topic but I might have a few useful insights to share. Perhaps I should dust off my blog and start reblogging again.
If you're not happy, they probably won't be either.
Best of luck,
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
-- Benjamin Franklin