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Old 05-05-2009, 02:19 PM
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5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

As this continues to grow, how would you organize the worldwide competition when there are 5,000+ teams? The only other robotics competition (I believe) that has this many teams is FIRST LEGO League, but I'm not sure their model would work best for us.

Let's pretend you are now the director of competition for VEX. How do you structure the events so that there aren't 1,000 teams at worlds. Not surprisingly, I have some ideas:

1. Run things as they are today -- just find a place that can hold 1,000 teams and run 16 divisions. Each divisional winner then goes into the finals which will probably take a long time to run.

2. Create a playoff system, with regional winners qualifying to compete at Worlds. If the goal was to have 400 teams (eight divisions of 50) at Worlds, it might work to:

- Have regional championships that each qualify seven teams for Worlds (winners, program skills, robot skills, Excellence, Judge's Choice). There would be 40 of these regional events.

- Each of the regions would have about 125 teams in their area. Local schools or clubs would sponsor local tournaments as they do now, each of which would qualify teams for the regional. At the very least, the top six teams in each local event qualify for the regional, but the regional committee might extend the list to include the Amaze Winner or the Finalist Alliance. Other slots at the Regional could be filled by a lottery or by some kind of points system that rewards teams that do well in the tournament or in earning other judged awards. A 64-team regional with eight local events could admit eight teams from each local. Perhaps all local events would be conducted by February, the regionals would be in March, and the Worlds would be at the end of April.

Current Super-Regionals, like the Tournament of the Americas and the Pan-Pacific event would have reserved slots at Worlds for their winners, too. Teams that have done well at local events could travel to attend the Super-Regionals as way to get out of their own home area, see new teams, and get a Worlds experience even if they aren't quite up to Worlds yet. Perhaps the Super-Regionals could all be four weeks before Worlds?

I'm sure if I took more time there are things here that don't make sense, but I think it's an interesting question. I have to admit that I kind of like option 1. It would be really, really cool to have 1,000 teams at Worlds, as long as there enough volunteers to run everything!
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:09 PM
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pjohn1959 pjohn1959 is offline
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Re: 5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

I'm not sure that VEX could get that large. Right now FIRST has about 1800 teams and uses 43 regional events to determine the qualifying teams that would attend the Championships. This brought in 348 teams (if I remember right). Split into 4 divisions, (87 teams each), each determining an division winner, then those 4 winners playing against each other to determine an ultimate winner.

VEX could follow this model for now. I would only want them to post the winners of each event, so that anybody could track the winners.

Should they get bigger, you could easily double the model, 8 divisions, etc., and this would work for upwards of 4000 teams.

There are plenty of arenas that could easily hold this, especially with the new VEXnet that will soon be available.
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:11 PM
smartkid smartkid is offline
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Re: 5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

I say find a really big convention center! Not to copy FIRST but the Geogia Dome should do

But being serious, if hosting such a large competition is an issue then a playoff system might work out. With that said, the world events have been amazing so far, I would really love to see 1,000+ teams get to go.

-Cody
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:12 PM
bons bons is offline
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Re: 5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

If I had a playoff system I would like to make sure there was one of two systems in place:

1) (the less preferred option) Part of the playoff system would be a methodology in which teams that win, but couldn't go to Worlds could pass down their invite to teams with the resources to go to Worlds. This way, teams aren't discouraged from competing and yet all regions do get represented.

2) (my more preferred option) Part of the playoff system would be to insure the winning team(s) would have the resources necessary to make the trip to worlds. There are plenty of amazing teams that simply don't have much in the way of resources.

For those people who equate performance with resources and wonder why this might be an issue worth dealing with in advance, I invite you to read http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.04/robot.html , the wired story of "Stinky" and the national underwater bot championship.
_______________

I'm pretty sure that the number of competitors in a regional event will vary widely. An urban area where Vex is heavily embraced by the local school system are likely to be very competitive with a greater than average number of teams. Other areas could find themselves wanting to send a representative to Worlds long before they have 64 teams. (What would be the Vex equivalent of the Jamaican Bobsled Team). Whatever system is used, I believe it will have to be flexible enough to deal with this variation.
_______________

I think, as this system grows, something will need to be put into place regarding age. It's my understanding that "middle school teams" (the American definition) were competing directly against "high school teams" (again, the American definition). I know there are numerous groups of younger children who are capable of building (with more engineering assistance) and driving these robots. My son, at age 10, will be building machines with me this year and while it's my understanding that he's too young to compete, I would like to find a way to make it possible for him to interact more with the competition teams while keeping it fair for everyone involved (For now, I'm thinking we'll be happy making youtube videos.). I also recall someone in this forum mentioning that their son (age 6) can assemble the robot and their daughter (age 9) was starting to learn how to program it, so I know I'm not the only person in this boat.
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:32 PM
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corpralchee corpralchee is offline
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Re: 5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

As much as I hate what FIRST did with the District system in Michigan I think it might work in this case.(In my opinion it gave michigan teams an unfair advantage, more events for less money, more time to play etc.)

Anyways the way I would run it is that each state has an organization which is responsible for running competitions around the state throughout the year. With the game being released in the spring plan an event for early fall, late fall, mid winter, late winter, and the a spring regional. That gives you 4 events early on in the year for teams to get practice at. Then for the final regional that is the "Big" event. That is the one event that qualifies teams for worlds. Each regional qualifies 5 teams, winning alliance and 2 skills challenges. That gives you a minimum of 250 teams right there not counting the rest of the world. Now because of team density you might have one regional for the true "midwest" states, the states east of the rockies. Then maybe you have to do two regionals per state out east. Now I'm not sure how it would work in china, do they have states like us? I would just give each country a quota based on team density and let them figure it out themselves so as to tailor it to their population.

As far as the world competition goes I would cap it at 400 teams at the most. That gives you 4 divisions. Give each division 4 fields and run two matches at a time.(Wow that is 16! fields) Each division runs their own eliminations to save time and then the winners play off in another round of eliminations.(Sounds a little similar, eh) I would also like to maybe make it a three day competition, getting a couple more matches in would be nice but I can understand if that's pushing it.

Overall I think something has to change because if we continue with the current system we will end up with worlds being way too big. So by doing bigger regionals you get the big competition feel but at a, hopefully, reduced price. Also I think teams that went to the first ever worlds should get an automatic entry into ever other world competition
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:36 PM
Blake Ross Blake Ross is offline
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Re: 5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

Quote:
.... My son, at age 10, will be building machines with me this year and while it's my understanding that he's too young to compete, ...
I think I will still be repeating this on my deathbed

Can you show me the rule that says your son is too young to compete???

Quote:
....each state has an organization which is responsible for running competitions around the state throughout the year....
I assert that state boundaries make exceedingly poor dividing lines between groups participating in VRC programs.

Blake
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:43 PM
Blake Ross Blake Ross is offline
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Re: 5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

I suggest that one/we/IFI must first determine what we want a 5000 team tournament system to accomplish, before they can choose how to structure it...

Blake
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:15 PM
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Re: 5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

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Originally Posted by gblake View Post
I suggest that one/we/IFI must first determine what we want a 5000 team tournament system to accomplish, before they can choose how to structure it...

Blake
I was actually reversing that flow. Let's say 5,000 teams have signed up to participate in local tournaments, what's the best way to handle the numbers? You're correct in suggesting that coming up with a tournament structure goal is the right first step, but I guess I was unconsciously assuming that the goal is, "to provide the greatest chance for students to learn about engineering, science and math through a competition system that rewards excellence and is perceived as fair." How's that for a working mission statement?
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:31 PM
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Re: 5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

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Originally Posted by pjohn1959 View Post
I'm not sure that VEX could get that large.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are around 40,000 secondary (middle and high,private and public) schools in the United States. To reach 5,000 teams, there would, on average, need to be at least one VEX team in 12.5% of schools. Considering international teams and schools with multiple teams, it seems reasonable that VEX will be able to reach 5000 teams.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d...s/dt07_083.asp
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:42 PM
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bellpride bellpride is offline
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Re: 5000 VEX Robotics Competition Teams

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Originally Posted by Robbie View Post
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are around 40,000 secondary (middle and high,private and public) schools in the United States. To reach 5,000 teams, there would, on average, need to be at least one VEX team in 12.5% of schools. Considering international teams and schools with multiple teams, it seems reasonable that VEX will be able to reach 5000 teams.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d...s/dt07_083.asp
Hawaii was at 33% high school participation (robotics in general) as of April 2008.
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