FLL Tournament Teams and Coaches,

  It's been 9 weeks since the World Class Challenge was released, and over the next four weeks over 500 teams will compete in the Virginia-DC FLL Regional tournaments.

  What should you expect?  You'll visit with three different sets of judges to show them what you can do. You'll take your robot to the competition floor at least 4 times to play the Robot Game.  You'll meet lots of other teams who have thought about ways to improve how people learn, as well as how to build and program robots--just like you!  It will be a busy and fun day.

  What will happen in judging?  What are the judges looking for, anyway? The judges will all be using the World Class Rubrics to let you know what they see.  The rubrics are available on the web in the "Judging and Awards" section of the main FLL website at http://www.firstlegoleague.org/event/judging

  Most judging sessions in VA-DC FLL are about 10 minutes long.  They each have different formats.

Project Judging:  During the first five minutes of the session, you set up and present the project presentation that tells about your research problem, solution, and sharing.  [Yes, setup time is part of the 5 minutes.  (see the bottom of page 4 of the Challenge)]  For the rest of the session, the judges will ask you questions about your research and solution so that they can understand all the things that you've done.

Make sure to read the requirements in the World Class challenge that describe what you'll need to do to be eligible for awards.  Teams are expected to do their setup without adult help, and to have everything that they will need for the presentation (except we'll almost always have a desk or a table of some sort available.)

Robot Design Judging:  Be ready to talk about what your robot can do, and how you designed it and programmed it to work on the Challenge missions, and why you made the choices you did.  The judges will have a Robot Game table, and will probably ask you to demonstrate one or two of your favorite programs.

Core Values Judging:  The judges will give you a few minutes to work as a team on a secret task.  Then they'll spend about 5 minutes asking you questions so they can see how your team understands and lives the FLL Core Values.  By the way, the secret task is just for fun--the judges are really mostly interested in how you work together!

Optional--Core Values Poster/Robot Design Executive Summary:  The FLL Judging and Awards page mentions an optional Core Values poster and Robot Design summary.  We do not require these in Virginia-DC FLL.  As several coaches have commented, these types of poster can be used to enhance visibility for other teams and judges of the key aspects of your team's demonstration of the core values promoted by FIRST or your design principles and proces.  They can be displayed at your pit and brought into the judging session to help facilitate discussions.  Mostly, thinking about what you would put on a poster will help your team to review what you'd like to discuss with the judges.

  Lots of experienced teams like to use one of their last meetings to practice being in the judging sessions.  Maybe you'll have the chance to show your families everything your team can do.

Tournament Schedule:
  Your tournament will give you a schedule telling you when you are supposed to be at judging and at the tables.  Try to be there 5 minutes ahead of time--that's the gracious and professional way to behave.  You should wait quietly until your team is asked to enter--the judges have to spend some time between teams in order to mark down their evaluation.  You'll get those judging sheets back at the end of the day to provide feedback about skills that your team does well, and ones where you can look to improve.

Judging Etiquette for Coaches and Mentors
  FLL Judging in Virginia-DC is not open to spectators.  (Note that some tournaments may have more open judging because of their specific host facility.)

  Each team is permitted to have two coach/mentors in the judging room as observers.  A third person may also be present, serving as a team historian, with a camera or recorder.  Observers are expected to minimize their disturbance of the team by not speaking and staying to the sides or back of the judging room.  Some teams may choose not to have observers during judging.

  Gracious Professionalism applies to all attending the tournament (team members, coaches, parents, spectators, volunteers, etc.). Our purpose is to celebrate the accomplishments of all FLL participants during the season.  Please remember to focus on that.

  Judging and awards are discussed in the "About Judging" section of http://www.firstlegoleague.org/event/judging .  In our tournaments, awards are given in each age Division.  In accordance with FLL policy, teams must participate in all 3 judged areas (Project, Core Values and Robot Design) and the Robot Game to be eligible for any Core Awards. In addition, teams are only eligible to win one judged award at the tournament.

  Note that the awards listed in the Awards Description document are given at large tournaments, such as our Virginia-DC championship tournament.  At regional tournaments, we'll have a Champions award, overall awards for Robot Design, Project, and Core Values, plus Judges' Awards and special recognition.  (The number of awards is limited by the number of teams competing in a division at a tournament, so not all of these may be awarded if there are only a handful of teams in the Division.)

  We'll celebrate and recognize the achievements of all teams during our closing ceremonies, so be ready to cheer!

  Lastly, each tournament has been assigned a certain number of invitations to the Virginia-DC Championship.  These invitations will be given to teams that do well on the Champions' Award criteria--showing excellence in all areas of the World Class Challenge.  (By the way, the invitations are "virtual".  You'll get an email after all 3 weeks of tournaments are finished with instructions about registering for and attending the Championship tournament.)

Steve Scherr
VA-DC FLL Referee Advisor

P.S.  This time I really have attached a sample scoresheet.  As you can see, it looks a lot like the online score validator posted at the FLL website.

P.P.S.  One great way for parents and coaches to increase their understanding of FLL and what it brings to your team is to volunteer as a judge at a tournament in a week when your team is not competing.  See http://www.va-dcfll.org/volunteer/ to learn more.)

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