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November 2013


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First Lego League in Virginia and DC <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 11 Nov 2013 21:24:11 -0500
Greg Trafton <[log in to unmask]>
Greg Trafton <[log in to unmask]>
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To: Sujata Mohapatra <[log in to unmask]>
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Hi, Sujata.  I totally understand your frustration / astonishment at the high scores of (some) rookie teams.  I think, however, that instead of suggesting that the coaches are doing the work and programming the robot for the kids, I'd ask your question in a different (gracious) way.  Perhaps something like, "I noticed that some of the rookie division I teams had unbelievably good scores (rather better than most of the division II teams).  I'm sure that the coaches aren't doing the work for the rookie teams, but what am I missing?  Are there any high scoring rookie teams on this list that could comment?"

Here are my thoughts:

Our team (the KangaBots) was exactly as you describe:  a rookie division I team made up of 5th graders who took the top score (349) of all teams (division I and division II) in the robot performance / mission scoring at a tournament this Sunday.  We coaches were just as surprised as the kids that they had the high score.  On our team, the kids did the work.  I think that the reason that the rookie division I teams had higher scores than most division II teams was due to 3 factors:

1) In past years, there wasn't a big negative score for penalties and this year a single penalty was worth 40 points (10 points for the penalty itself + 30 points for the lack of clear runway; this is not technically correct since it is possible to clear the runway after a penalty, but for many teams it is a big hit).  We saw many division II teams (and lots of division I teams) pick up their robot, while our team did not pick it up even once.  My guess is that rookie teams came in with a different set of expectations (don't touch the robot!) than more experienced teams (we've picked up the robot every year for the last 4 years; it's no big deal).

2) Because the rookie teams were so new, their missions were, in general, simpler (our rookie team did not even attempt multiple missions; all of the missions were: go out; do a mission; come back to base).  Because the missions were the simpler ones, they had a high rate of success as a single mission.  We noticed that several division II teams were attempting 3-5 missions at a time, and the mat is quite difficult, so that lead to lower scores.

3) The rookie teams had simple robots and simple programs.  I have no doubt at all that all of the division II teams had programs that were far more complicated, better designed, more informed, and more interesting than all of the division I teams, but because the mat was so difficult, the simplicity of the robot and the programs themselves were actually a scoring advantage.  We also saw some fabulously creative robots that just didn't score on the table.


On Nov 11, 2013, at 12:26 PM, Sujata Mohapatra <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Thanks to the all organizers, judges, volunteers for their hard work to make the tournament successful at Chantilly.
> I am coaching a team since last 2 years, but I I have enough experience from coaching teams in other STEM activities (Odyssey of the mind etc.) to guide a team and observe a team. If I understand correctly the main purpose of FLL is to motivate students to involve in STEM and apply to the real world. Last week our team was competing in division II in Chantilly High school. The team  had a sound score on all 3rd round of robot performance. All our team members are very focused and very interested in science, academically very bright. I am working with them since last 6 years and very proud of them. Some of the team members have 3-4 years of NXT programming experience. When they were practicing I realized  how much hard work, perfection, calculation and time management needed to get a good score in the tournament.  In reality most of the teams struggle with managing time of 150 minutes. Last week in Chantilly,most of the division II ( above 7 grade) could not achieve 200 points in any of the round where 3rd/4th grader rookie team got a consistence score in all 3 rounds above (250- 390). Unbelievable! 
> Sorry to ask this question to the coaches who are programming the robot for their teams, Are you giving chance to the kids to learn or your main priority is to get an award and proceed to the next level? Definitely, FLL Core value does not allow this.
> FLL should give a spontaneous robot task to the teams to program and run the robot during the robot design and programming judging time to test the ability of the team. 
> Thanks.
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