I completely agree with the announcing suggestions provided by Michael.  At the
Maggie Walker local tournament, they announced these couple of sentences
and it made the ceremony far more interesting.

Specifically for the teamwork and project presentation aspects, since not many
people know about it.
5154, Thunder Giants

--- On Fri, 12/12/08, Michael Blanpied <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Michael Blanpied <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [VADCFLL-L] [VADCFLL-CHAMPIONSHIP-L] Judging feedback sheets
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Friday, December 12, 2008, 11:52 AM

I'll weigh in on the thread about the awards ceremony and the role of

First, I like the parade of teams. It's a way for every team to get some
special attention, no matter how well their work stood up under competition, and
no matter how poorly their robot may have performed in the same physical space
for the same audience, earlier in the day.

Second, I think its appropriate to award plaques and trophies to exemplary
teams and exemplary volunteers. We -like- to see deserving people get
recognized, we -like- to cheer teams to celebrate their great accomplishments,
and we -like- to thank volunteers for their hard work. FLL already does a nice
job of spreading the joy and kudos by ensuring that single teams earn (at most)
single awards. (Yes, there's the possibility of a second award for robot
performance, but those are different than the judged awards, and the kids
understand that.) I also disagree with Rakesh's proposal that judging be
eliminated be "quantitative criteria will be always preferred." This
does not match the goal of FLL to encourage and celebrate well-rounded teams and
outside-the-box thinking, nor does it match the real world where science and
engineering may be quantitative, but the choice to employ their results is a
judgement call.

Yes, I acknowledge the point that closing ceremonies can be "too much
about the trophies." But the solution is not to eliminate the trophies. The
solution is to increase the -content-!

Teams work hard for all fall to perform original research, to prepare and
practice a compelling presentation, to create unique and clever strategies for
solving table missions, to design and perfect an autonomous robot, to learn and
employ a computer programming language to drive a robot, and to learn to work
together as effective teams. Judges spend a long day hearing, seeing and
exploring these wonders, and then tackle the Herculean task of deciding among
worthy choices of who will receive plaques and trophies. But despite all this,
there seems to be a reluctance to say even a few words about those things when
handing out trophies.

Awards are often made by simply announcing the team name, failing to mention
what they did to earn the award. Sure, it's great to cheer, and cheers come
from teams disappointed not to have been chosen, but it would be great to know
-why-. In Sterling, the research awards were given out by team name only,
despite cries of "Tell us what they did!" coming from kids on the
floor. This focuses on the trophy as the thing that matters, and misses the
opportunity to educate the audience, teams and coaches--and to atta-boy the
winners--by mentioning the accomplishments that made them stand out to the
judges. Unless something is said in the closing ceremony, teams will have very
little opportunity to expose their great work to the receptive, eager audience
of fellow FLL'ers, especially at one-day tournaments given the hectic pace.

It would only take a sentence or two. For example, it would be terrific to hear
something like "Team X built a strong, gear-driven robot that moved quickly
on the table, using LEGO hydraulics to lift the house. They combined their
missions into logical groupings, organized their programs using MyBlocks, and
documented their work in a binder shown to the judges. For this terrific work,
they earn 2nd place in Robot Design." Or "Team Y studied the effect of
snowfall and snow removal on local businesses. They interviewed business owners,
and created recommendations for altering the priority of snow removal to reduce
business losses, and presented their recommendations to the town council. For
this great work and a clear, organized presentation, they earn 1st place for

Adding this detail wouldn't prolong the awards ceremony--it takes me less
than 30 seconds to read both of those sentences. It would give the ceremony
interesting, meaty content, would justify the awards without saying a word about
scores or rankings, and would celebrate the hard work of the kids, giving us
something real to cheer about as the grinning kids rise to accept their
well-deserved awards.

Mike Blanpied
Reston, VA
2006 #4809 Nano People
2007 #1666 Power Bunnies
2008 #5013 BLT--Brilliant LEGO Team


At 10:52 PM -0500 12/11/08, Nicholas Duan wrote:
> I can't agree more, considering the fact that about half of the
awards/trophies were given to adults, not kids.  If I was a young child, waiting
in the hallway and going though the closing ceremony after a long day would be
very tiring, and there isn't much value-added in the spirit of FLL and
learning.  If I was a kid, I'd like to have fun and more excitement at the
closing ceremony:
> 1. Skip the team intro entirely (we could save at least an hour). Let the
kids enter the gym freely, play some dance music (just like the closing ceremony
at the Beijing Olympics).  It's party time! 
> 2. Give awards only to kids, not adults.  I'm not saying that we
shouldn't recognize the contribution of our volunteers, but this may not be
the right time.  We may find another way to give out the volunteer awards, for
instance, having a party for adults/volunteers/parents/coaches the night before.
 Or hosting a parent/coach conference for exchanging ideas in
coaching/judging/parenting, while the kids were doing their activities.
> 3. After announcing the winners, have each one do a live presentation to
the whole audience, and have the judges providing comments on the uniqueness of
each winner.  This will give our kids another opportunities to learn, and also
eliminate any doubts about fairness of the judging process.
> FLL is all about kids getting interested and learning science and
technology.  If we could focus on this goal, coaching/judging/running the
championship will become much simpler and easier...
> Nick
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Rakesh Bahadur <[log in to unmask]>
>  >
>  > Let me share my observations as a rookie coach.
>  > FLL need to de-emphasise award giving and put more emphasis on
>>  learning. As long as awards are given at the end of the
>>  tournament, winning will be the major driver of participation. In
>>  FLL spirit (all about having fun and not about winning), just give
>>  only two awards, one for div 1 champi on and othe r for div 2
>  > champion.
>  >
>>  Robotics and FLL is all about science and engineering. For
>>  anything to be scientific, it must be quantifiable and verifiable.
>>  Judgement at regional and state FLL tournament (team work,
>  > project, design) does not meet that criteria. A quantitative
>  > criteria will be always preferred over a qualitative one.
>  >
>  > FLL should decide
>  >
>>  1. Whether it wants to  stay in the realm of sound science or soft
>>  science.
>>  2. What  it wants to stand for?  L earning by the teams or
>  > competing parents/coaches.
>  >
>  > Rakesh

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