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November 2009

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From:
Linda Bangert <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Linda Bangert <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Wed, 11 Nov 2009 09:35:16 -0500
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Hi All,

I would like to add the thanks of Team WNANF (We Need A Name Fast) to  
the others who have chimed in about the Newport News tournament.  We  
are a rookie team, and had a few surprises in how things were done,  
but the scheduling went very smoothly, the rooms were easy to find and  
centrally located, and folks were gracious and professional.  Well done!

I'll pass along the things that surprised us, in the hope it can help  
others.  I hope I'm not spilling any secrets.

One of the things our team got feedback on the sheets as a weakness  
was "No introductions to judges." Although our team handed the judge  
the Team Information sheet, no one told us that it was standard  
procedure to introduce themselves as well.  Talking to an experienced  
coach friend, he said they forgot to tell this year's team to do that,  
even though they had remembered to tell their previous teams.

The team was also surprised in the robot judging to be asked to run  
the robot while they answered questions.  Even though this is a middle  
school team, several members are shy, and had a hard time listening to  
and coming up with coherent answers to the judges' questions while  
they were also trying to run the robot - definitely something we need  
to practice.

After reading the comments here last week (at 10:30 p.m. the night  
before our tournament) about needing to bring a "code book" with  
photos of the robot with all the attachments and printouts of the  
programs, I was in a panic, particularly since my printer was out of  
ink.  We decided to just take our robot and laptop to show the  
programs.  Although bringing our robot to the robot judging may seem  
obvious, it wasn't to this rookie coach, particularly after reading  
about needing to bring photos.  Finally, even though some team members  
said, "We can show you in our program what we did," the judges didn't  
want to look at their programs at all.  (Glad I didn't go on a  
midnight expedition for printer ink!)

As a final suggestion, I would have liked to have the team see the  
other teams' presentations, in order get ideas on what worked and what  
didn't.  This is allowed (with students as young as 3rd grade) in  
Odyssey of the Mind, and the kids learn a lot from each other.  The  
format is very much the same - using classrooms for the  
presentations.  When the room is full, that's it, so teams would have  
to be judicious about sending only a couple of members to not take up  
too much space.

Perhaps a "What to Expect" few paragraphs would be helpful, either  
posted on the VA/DC website or e-mailed to the coaches when they  
register for a tournament.  This should help new coaches, and also  
serve as a checklist for the experienced coaches.  To put everything  
in perspective, none of these things hurt us much, as we did qualify  
for State, but it was stressful for the team members.  Even so, they  
had a great time.  Thanks again!

Linda Bangert
Coach for Team WNANF
Poquoson Middle School

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