Robot judging is different than the project judging in that a scripted, well-rehearsed presentation is not needed nor desired. Typically, the teams will be asked to show their robot to the judges and identify any features that they feel are unique and of which they are particularly proud. Inside the Robot judging room should be a regulation FLL table with this year's mission models setup. The team will be asked to run a few missions on the table and it typically will be their choice as to which one(s) they run. They should be prepared to run one or two missions while explaining what the robot is doing.

The FLL robot judges are typically prepared for both shy, reserved teams as well as bold, take-charge teams. Both can do well in the robot design, depending on their level of sophistication of the mechanical design, programming and strategy/innovation.  (FLL Robot judges try their best to look beyond the glitter of a team and to rank the teams based on their robot design,  programming and strategy.)

Each judging team has its own approach. My personal model for the robot judging process comes in five steps (not always in this order):

1.       Welcome! Glad you could be here. We hope you are having a good time and have learned a little about yourself, food safety and robotics this year.

2.       "Show and Tell" Using the robot and any attachments you have brought with you, please show me your robot and tell me what makes it unique. This is exactly like the "show and tell" that they may have done in school.

3.       "Director's Annotation" We'd like you to run your robot on the mission table in the room for a few of your favorite missions this year. Just like you can watch on your DVDs sometimes, while the robot is running on the table, please explain to me what the robot is doing while it is going along.

4.       How Did You Design Your Robot? (This is new to some teams this year).  Explain to me how you designed your robot? Between September and today how did you improve your robot's performance? What strategy did you use to determine which missions to try and in what order you conducted the missions?
How Did You Program Your Robot? Using the printouts your brought (preferred) or your laptop (not preferred), please show me a few programs that you have written for this tournament.

5.       Thanks for Visiting With Us! Congratulations on a great showing. We hope you do well for the rest of the tournament and enjoy the rest of the day.

If, at any point, your team starts running out of things to say, the judges will know to fill in the voids with specific robot design questions. Additionally, the judges will ask different questions based on what they observe during the judging process.

I highly recommend you bring a printout of some of the program code. You might get guidance from your tournament regarding how many or how few printouts you should bring (I know of at least one which requests that you bring no more than three pages of code printouts). Using a laptop is acceptable, but having a set of printouts greatly facilitates the discussion (you only have about 5 minutes!).

A few random comments:

*         Echoing Eric's advice below, seriously consider if adults should go into the judging rooms with the teams. Depending on the team members, this could be a bad idea. If the team members are turning around to confer with their coaches, the judging session is not as good as a team which is focused on the judges. If adults go into the judging rooms, they must be absolutely quiet. I tell them that they should blend into the walls and should not be noticed. Adults speaking even a single word can potentially blow it for another wise excellent team.

*         While typically not required, having a few copies of the team information sheet provided to each judging team is helpful. Your tournament might give you guidance in this area.

*         While typically not required, a handout with some pictures of the robot with descriptions is helpful (when you advance to the World Festival, this is pretty much required).

*         The judging room is not a confessional. The judges don't need to know or want to know what has gone wrong or what does not work reliably. Unfortunately, comments like, "this only works half of the time" are heard often.  BE POSITIVE!  Let the judges try to figure out what is not working well.

*         The judging process is a very subjective process. The judges are looking for discriminators which make your team better than the one which just left the room and than the one getting ready to enter after you leave. Don't show them common features of your robot and programming. Everybody has two motors and wheels, but perhaps your team is the only one with two color sensors or a special gear train.
Here is the FIRST LEGO League website for team resources: On this page are the coach call recordings and one of them pertains to judging. If you have not listened to them, it might be worth your while to listen to a few.
Here are the official FIRST LEGO League Rubrics: The robot design rubric is the last sheet.
Team information sheet:  Your tournament(s) should be giving you guidance on how many to bring and when to turn them in.

Thank you for all that you have done this year for your team. They and we greatly appreciate your efforts.

Best of Luck!

From: First Lego League in Virginia and DC [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Eric Palmer
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 1:32 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: EXT :Re: [VADCFLL-L] Robot Design

Your team should be ready to solve a mission or two at the table and answer questions from the judge

Bring the robot and any attachments
More experienced teams bring printouts of program code (some annotate the printout), laptops can be used but tend to slow this down
Be prepared to answer questions about the programs, the robot, attachments and how they are solving the missions, who did the programming
Questions will also cover roles and who did the work

Read the rubric and determine a set of questions that a judge might ask (for example, how did you choose your base robot design, what other options did you consider, why)

They can bring in other material but it is not expected. It can help if the team is judged strongly and the judges have to decided between multiple teams. For example a few pictures of your robot with different attachments and maybe annotated.  But again this is not required. Anything that can help the judges remember your team.

Judges that are more experienced with design will ask questions that determine what engineering concepts the team understands. They don't have to know the "official" terminology but the concepts help. Why is the robot so high, what problems might that create (center of gravity, tip over).  So things like friction, speed, sensors, etc.

They have 5 mins. That is it.

Some teams come in and take charge, some let the judges drive. Both can work depending on level of sophistication and age of team members.

Consider letting the kids do this and other judging without adults (coaches, historian) present.

Hope this helps
Eric Palmer
team #7
The rainbow Cows

On Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 1:19 PM, Savita Sethi <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
Hi all,
This is our second year. Last year was our first try and while we came first in the research part of the competition, we didn't do well in the robot design and the mission part. We are still not sure how to prepare for the robot design judging session. We are ready with the answers, the programs etc but we have heard that the team should have a presentation on the robot design. I am not sure how and what to tell the kids about this. Can someone please let us know and put us in the right direction. Last year also when the kids went for this session, judges were waiting for us to start and we had no ready-made presentation.
PLease help.

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