I too would love it if the teams could see the other projects. I think it would really spur their creativity and set a mark for excellence for the next year. Re the introductions: we didn't get a checkmark for that even though our team did introduce themselves (team, school, town), which made me wonder: are individual teammember introductions desired?
Kathy Wakeman
Mindstorm Marauders
On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 9:35 AM, Linda Bangert <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Hi All,

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 to practice.

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!

Linda Bangert
Coach for Team WNANF
Poquoson Middle School

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