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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 22:49:54 -0800
Curt Tran <[log in to unmask]>
Curt Tran <[log in to unmask]>
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Hi Everyone,
Please allow me to address this subject if I may.  This is my personal opinion and in no way an
official response or a view of FIRST nor FLL.
With over 20,000 teams in over 70 countries, FLL has grown
into an international phenomenon.  Please
don’t forget that FIRST was founded by Dean Kamen.  He is truly a very smart man, and we can only
assume that he has surrounded himself with some very bright people to help manage
FIRST and FLL.  As such, we can be assure
that they must have seen these issues and made adjustment to FLL over the years
to deal with them.  FLL takes adult
intervention very seriously, and as such on the very first page of the coaches’
handbook after the FLL’s Core Values is the Coaches’ Promise #2 of “The children
do the work.”  Adult coaches and mentors
are guides, helping the kids find the answers.  FLL judges at regional and champion tournaments are very wary of teams
where adults are overly involved, and will ask questions to determine if the
children did the work themselves.
In the early years, FLL Champion’s Awards were based on four
criteria 1) Robot Design, 2) Project Presentation, 3) Teamwork, and 4) Robot
Performance with each represented a 25% (or ¼) weight value.  Approximately 4 years ago, FLL Champion’s Awards
were changed to base only on the three core judged areas of 1) Robot Design, 2)
Project Presentation, and 3) Teamwork with a special criterion that the team
has to be among the top 40% score at their regional tournament to receive
Champion’s Awards.  
Many people thought that this was a bad move since the kids were
attracted to FLL because of the robot games, and if we reduced the important of
winning the Robot Performance that it would ruin the whole concept of FLL.   However,
more kids and teams continue to compete at FLL events every year since.  In addition, if we take a careful look at the
reason for FLL making the change four year ago, it might answer some of these
questions that have been raised.  First,
if there was any adult intervention in helping with the design and programming
of the robot, a team can get a very high score at the robot game and maybe even
winning the Robot Performance award but still might not win Champion’s Award to
advance to State.  The kids will have to
do very well in all three judging areas to advance to State.  This is where a team is judged by three
different set of judges on three different rubrics criteria.  In FLL, the children are expected to do the
work.  If there are any adult
interventions, it more likely will surface during one of the three judged
sessions.  Judges are trained both to
give any benefit of the doubt to the children and to recognize an overabundance
of adult participation.  A team’s
inability to answer questions, or to make robot adjustments without the direct
assistance of an adult, will be evident and will impact award eligibility.
Second, as a team mature and grow into division-II, the
children quickly realize that the path to State is more than just winning the
Robot Performance award, but to win in all three core judging areas.  This might explain why the older kids put more
emphasis on winning Robot Design, Project Presentation, and Teamwork rather than
focusing in getting that perfect score on the table games.  This also might help to clarify why the
division-I with younger (and rookie) teams might get much higher robot
performance scores than those in division-II.  It makes sense since the younger kids are drawn to FLL because of the
Lego robot -- and winning the Robot Performance award is much more important to
them than working on a research project to solve a real world problem! 
In summary, I would like to remind everyone to keep the
children in mind.  The most important
thing for you to know about an FLL tournament is that it is supposed to be FUN!  FIRST’s mission is to get children
excited about science and technology.  Also
remember that these are children who worked hard all season to make it to the tournament.  Treat their accomplishments and their
work with respect, and be sure that other does as well.  One negative comment from an adult can have a
devastating effect on a team and the children.  I hope that these might answer some of those tough questions that you
might have.
Remember “What we
discover is more important that what we win.”
Best wishes,
T. (Curt) Tran
Judges Advisor, GMU
Regional ’11, ’12 & ’13
Judges Advisor, TJHSST Regional
Mentor Team #5390, Kilmer-I
Mentor Team #8941,
Kilmer-II ’09
Coach Team #324, Scitobor
Coach Team #3563, Rabid
Llama Lords ’07
P.S. If you and your team are done with your regional
tournament, please consider volunteering for one the remaining tournaments this
coming weekend and the State tournament at JMU in December.  We need volunteers for Referees, Judges, and
Judges Assistance.  Please contact these tournament
directors directly or email me if you want to help with judging at GMU on 11/16
or 11/17.  - Thanks.

 From: Sujata Mohapatra <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Monday, November 11, 2013 9:32 PM
Subject: Re: [VADCFLL-L] About VADC Tournaments

My team did very well, even if they did not qualify to the state , they ranked 4th in division II. They are extremely happy, what they got that's their own effort. I just spoke what I observed. I did not mention any one team name. This type of e mail directly to me is not gracious professionalism too. Hope to write a generic e mail. 

On Nov 11, 2013, at 9:17 PM, [log in to unmask] wrote:

>I understand your frustration and have seen plenty of parents on computers making adjustments to programs at the practice tables--with and without team members.  But in the spirit of the FIRST Core Values, I think such an indiscrete email to the complete LISTSERV does not demonstrate gracious professionalism; discovery vice winning; or learning together.  So I would ask you to consider what did your team discover this year?  Did they master a new skill with the EV3 or NTX?  Did they finally start using the geometry and other math skills they've been taught in school vice 100 guestimations?  Did one of your team members finally get the courage to speak in front of a group of people?  You can never control what other teams do, but you can lead your team in the spirit of the core values, and know that in the long term--they'll be better for the effort. 
>The idea about a spontaneous programming task might show that some teams are not as good as others at programming, but in the end what does this really serve?  What if a 3rd/4th grade Team completed the spontaneous task better than all the the 7th grade teams?  Then what?  Like the robot game itself, there are too many variables in play with exponential possibilities to say with any certainty that a spontaneous programming task would definitively prove that another team was not following the spirit of the FIRST Core Values. 
>My third year team is using about 1/10th of the EV3's potential, but it's their bot, their program, their mission, and most importantly their discovery.  They actually used geometry this year....I couldn't be happier.  Best wishes in the future and for your team. 
>James Garner 
>Coach and Pizza Delivery Guy for Team # 5220   
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Sujata Mohapatra <[log in to unmask]>
>To: VADCFLL-L <[log in to unmask]>
>Sent: Mon, Nov 11, 2013 12:26 pm
>Subject: [VADCFLL-L] About VADC Tournaments
>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.  
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