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
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!
Coach for Team WNANF
Poquoson Middle School
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