BTS Special Edition 2013

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Inspiring students, one robot at a time.

Special Edition: Back To School

September 5, 2013

Referee Training Videos

Karthik and Rich are back as the instructors in the 2013- 2014 Toss
Up referee videos - which are now available for everyone to watch.

VEX IQ Program

VEX IQ - is the newest member of the VEX Robotics Competition family, which
brings a hands-on STEM program to elementary and middle school

College level - teams from around the world continue to challenge each other and
compete with the VEX Robotics platform.

Start Up Team Grants
If you know of schools in your area that are looking to start VEX
teams, they can find additional information on our website - .

Newsletter Subscription

Invite additional mentors, sponsors, parents, and administrators who
would like to be kept up to date on the latest team information to
subscribe - and receive monthly updates today!

Mission Statement
The REC Foundation seeks to increase student interest and involvement
in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by
engaging students in hands-on, sustainable and affordable
curriculum-based robotics engineering programs across the U.S. and

REC Foundation on Twitter
Invite your students, mentors and volunteers to follow us on Twitter.
Keep up with all the new information shared by our teams, event
partners, sponsors and the the REC Foundation. Our Twitter handle:
@REC_Foundation - .

Past E-Mails Available
Archives of all email blasts from this season can always be found
here - .

Team Registration

Teams can register - and choose from more
than 350 competition events this coming season with more to come! To
date, more than 2,200 teams representing 15 nations have already
logged into the system, and are filling up hundreds of events around
the globe.

Over the summer, the REC Foundation team - has
grown to include new team members to better serve our growing
community of students, teachers, mentors and partners. Please visit
us today to connect with your regional manager!

State/Region Qualifying Model

With the current and anticipated team growth this season, we are
ushering in a new State Qualifying System - . Under the new system, teams from local events will qualify for
the state or provincial championship events, which feed into the 2014
VEX Robotics Competition World Championship. Check your state or
province event listings to see if there is a championship in your

U.S. National Championship Moves to Summer

As the VEX Robotics Competition continues to grow, the REC Foundation
is pleased to announce an exciting new location and date for the U.S.
National Competition. The new event will take place in the summer in
Honolulu, Hawaii and will be presented in partnership with the
Friends of Hawaii Robotics on July 10-12, 2014. The REC Foundation
extends its appreciation to the CREATE Foundation and all of their
volunteers for being a gracious partner and host to the U.S. National
Competition for the past five years. The CREATE Foundation will
continue to hold a premier event in the spring which will also
qualify US teams for the National Championship in Hawaii. Please stay
tuned for more information about both events, coming soon!

2014 & 2015 VEX Robotics Competition World Championship

The REC Foundation is pleased to share that the 2014 and 2015 VEX
Robotics Competition World Championship, co-presented by the Northrop
Grumman Foundation and the REC Foundation, will once again take place
at the Anaheim Convention Center in California on April 23-26, 2014
and April 22-25, 2015. This intense four-day annual robotics
engineering tournament will attract more than 800 teams and 15,000
students from over 25 countries to celebrate their accomplishments
and further inspire their interest in science, technology,
engineering and mathematics (STEM).

VEX Robotics Curriculum

VEX Robotics provides academic curriculum that is mapped to the new
Common Core standards. The unique materials provide the rigor and
relevance teachers seek, while promoting a fun and hands-on classroom
experience for students in grades 2-8 - and 9-12 - .

Scholarship & Grant Opportunities

The 2013- 2014 season will provide VEX Robotics students with access
to more scholarship - opportunities with new universities coming onboard this season. In
addition, the REC Foundation has established a new area of the
website to notify potential new teams of grant opportunities - organized by state and by program.

Online Challenges Open September 17

There are currently seven Online Challenges - that
provide students with creative outlets for additional awards. This
year, the educational video will request that teams produce a video
to teach a new team something about the STEM aspects of robotics
engineering or construction that can help them better prepare for a
competition. All of the Online Challenges will open for submission on
September 17th.

2014 VRC World Championship is only 230 Days Away!

Visit the 2014 VRC World Championship tournament pages on RobotEvents
for more information. The event will take place at the Anaheim
Convention Center April 23-26, 2014. The 2015 event will also be in
Anaheim from April 22-25, 2015.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” -Alan Kay

Map Search Function on
You are able to search out local events and teams on the Map Search - feature at the
top of the page on - . This is a
great way to find new events and teams in your area and around the

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I am very confused on why US Nationals was moved. Before, Omaha NE was a perfect place because it was in the very center of the contiguous 48 states. The new change put it thousands of miles farther for teams. I understand Hawaii is nice, and it would make a good spot for a competition, but US Nationals does not need to be there. I don’t think there have been many Hawaii teams that have come to Omaha for Nationals. Likewise, I am very certain the attendence of teams from the contiguous 48 states will drop.

I also am wondering why it was moved to the summer? It is after the season ends, and Worlds has already been completed. This time is also used for teams to start designing and building for the next years competition. I again don’t understand the change.

I know for certain my team will not be attending because of how much it will cost. We were looking forward to hopefully winning US Nationals this year instead of getting 2nd. We know one thing for certain; Hawaii is winning US Nationals.

If you could please explain the change and how it will benefit the majority of the US teams, that would be great. Thanks!

I agree with Jesse. The location chosen (Hawaii) is not a wise location to hold nationals, and neither is the time it is held. To start off, Hawaii is on a distant island. Sometimes it even costs more to ship mail there. Now imagine how much more the flight ticket will cost (correct me if I’m wrong!).

I do not see how this would benefit any of the mainland U.S. teams (they are the majority of teams in U.S.). Since the majority live mainland why don’t we hold the competition where the majority of teams are? Nationals has been in the great location of Omaha, center of the U.S., and has had premier venues, why change that?

I expect the attendance of nationals to drastically decrease this year due to the change. Hawaii already has a large tournament (Pan-Pacific) so why do they need another? I assume that nearly only Hawaiian teams will attend nationals, so they are going to be receiving national bragging rights when it was a nearly only state tournament.

It is depressing that in my senior year, and many of my other team members, we will not be able to attend nationals due to cost.

If the event partners have a reason for change the location and time (I assume they do), please explain.

Well, all I can say is Omaha was never that attractive and the timing was bad. Hawaii in July however, I’m already packing my bags, where do I sign up to volunteer?

I’m not against the new schedule and location, (Primarily because my teams cant attend anything over spring break:D), but with all due respect to the RECF, it seems like a very poor decision.

Unlike Omaha, it is impossible to drive to hawaii from other states, forcing teams wishing to attend to fly. I haven’t checked other states, but a flight from Houston to Hawaii round trip is roughly 900$. Although I didn’t book our past flights, that seems like it was more than worlds has been.

Secondly, July will be 3 months into the new season. By July of this year, a considerable amount of teams already had operational robots. Most teams cant afford to begin a new robot without disassembling their old bot. In the end, the attendence rate will drop drastically and the eventual champion won’t really be the best, because they didn’t battle top teams such as 323 that couldn’t make it.

I’m sorry that it might be difficult for mainland teams to attend. I wonder if the move in location is related to there being no Vex Pan Pacific event this year? Possibly teams from Asia and the west coast that used to attend Pan Pacific will attend the event. I’m looking forward to another possible event for my team to compete in. I hope I won’t be on any trips, or taking summer classes for college at the time, since I would of graduated by then :frowning: . Beside this, maybe this works out for teams that had to make a tough decision on whether they should attend Vex worlds or FRC worlds. Looking forward to more information!

After talking to my (very upset parents) we have some more questions.

  1. Why would a team (from the contiguous 48 states) pay thousands of dollars just to go to US Nationals? Before, US Nationals was only a 10hr drive and didn’t cost thousands of dollars.

If I had a couple thousand dollars to spend, I would spend it on Worlds not Nationals. Nationals was a good competition because it prepared a lot of teams for Worlds, and (for some teams) is was their World Competition because they could only attend Nationals (because of money or qualification). Now that you have moved Nationals to the middle of no where, lots of teams that want to attend and have qualified for US Nationals can’t go. Schools don’t want to pay thousands of dollars just for US Nationals.

  1. The scenery doesn’t really matter that much. It’s not like your going to get to Hawaii and be like, “alright, lets go hit the beach for a few hours”. No. Because of the costs, teams will probably arrive the day of the competition. That will give no time (just like in Omaha) for “fun in the sun”. It was the same for Omaha. We didn’t really get outside until the competition was over. I really hope the RECF didn’t pick Hawaii just because it is nice there.

  2. Who wants to continue meeting all through July for the same competition? That means people’s season is a whole (mostly) 365 days. That’s ridiculous. Currently, the set up is great. Competition ends after Worlds (in April), then teams have from April-August to design, CAD, build prototypes. I don’t think it would be fair to the teams to put Nationals in the summer. People also like going on vacation :wink: I thought March was a great time for Nationals because it was after State, and before Worlds. It gave a pre-world feel to teams.

Let me know again! Thanks.

Unless the rules change this year, since this is the **U.S. National Championships **only U.S. teams would be able to compete.

That is very unfortunate. My questions still stand though. Why put it in Hawaii in July?

So here’s my vantage point:

If I had money to spend on nationals,

I could fly out to Omaha (and miss classes)
I could fly out to Hawaii (and not miss classes)

While it might be inconvenient to those who lived near nationals, I would be MUCH more willing to go to Hawaii then Omaha. I mean, how couldn’t you want to go to Hawaii for robotics xD


I’m guessing it was late planning (perhaps nobody in Omaha willing to host as hinted above) and this was the earliest they could get. I remember reading about how vex has to reserve worlds in California years in advance

While I never had the opportunity to go to US Nationals because of money (though the ACME teams in my area did), this move does seem weird. This does restrict literally most of the US teams in VEX.

That said, I have vacation plans for volunteering soon!

I love it. We can build competition worth robots for next year’s game by July if that’s what it means, or perfect our Toss Up ones after Worlds. Either way is good with me.

And HAWAII? I don’t know if you’ve been, but it’s got tons of fun things to do. Apart from the obvious swimming/surfing/snorkeling, there’s ziplining, parasailing and just about anything you can think of. The cost is really high, yeah, but it’s amazing.

I’ll be talking with our coach Monday to see if he wants to take the entire team out. If not, I might fly in with my robot and a couple friends to compete and hang out. It would be nice to have something to do over summer and avoid the 115 degree heat.

I guess schools have thousands of dollars for their robotics groups. Unlike public schools, homeschool teams have a hard time getting money, so you can probably count homeschoolers out.

Unless we get a 10+ grand, our team will not be going.

I have not been, but my parents have. They said it was fun, BUT, we are going there to compete. Unless you plan on going there a day earlier or later, you won’t get to enjoy Hawaii. If I was going to hawaii, I would rather go to the beaches and be out all day, not be in a building competing.

The ticket alone is 1200. Add in food, lodging, transportation etc, that is probably a couple thousand dollars.

You understand Hawaii is thousands more correct?

Yeah. That’s the idea. Go a day or so early to unpack and enjoy the beach. We’re normally on Maui, though, and this is going to be on the Big Island. I’ve checked out Pearl Harbor, but not much else there. I heard Honolulu is more like a large city, though, compared to the town we were in (Kanapali?) when we visited.

I have to disagree. While the increased cost of travelling to Hawaii will prevent all of my teams from attending, it is the timing that I am really concerned about on an ongoing basis. Based on what I heard from RECF at Worlds this past year and the move to a state championship model this appears to be a change in direction.

The progression I was hearing went like this:

Local Competition --> State Championship --> National Championship --> World Championship

This progression helps alleviate issues with how many teams qualify for the World Championships and provides for what should be a more progressively challenging competition season.

The change in timing knocks the National Championship out of that loop. If the National Championship in July of 2014 is for Toss Up, then it no longer feeds into another competition and becomes the end of the Toss Up season. It just doesn’t make sense to me to hold a National Championship after the World Championship. Most of my teams start tearing their robots apart after Worlds to work on their designs for the new game.

If the National Championship in July of 2014 is for the new game that will be release next year, then it is way too early in the season to be meaningful and would be before all of the State Championships.

Also, for the majority of U.S. teams this will occur during summer break. I think this may pose problems for teams that may now need to meet and prepare over the summer. I know the local FRC team that I mentor has struggled to keep students engaged throughout the summer. Even with the largest off-season summer FRC event, IRI, in our backyard it is hard to get students to participate.

I understand the challenges of the previous timing. I am the head mentor for 6 VEX teams, directly mentor 2 teams and am also a mentor for an FRC team. At least one of my own children have been on an FRC team for the past 7 years and VEX teams for the past 4 years. Our schedule in March and April is unbelievable, but I would rather deal with that than have a National Championship whose timing makes it irrelevant to the rest of the competition season. It may be a great event on it’s own, but I think that is what it actually becomes, more of a stand-alone event than an integral part of the competition season.


To be fair, not a lot of public schools have the money to afford a trip to Hawaii either. I know my school definitely didn’t have the money.

On another note, this reminds me of the recent change FTC made to its competition structure, adding the Super Regional.

Based on the distribution of teams across the U.S. my guess would be that there could easily be support for 3 super regionals (West, Central, East) that would be within driving distance of the majority of the teams within that region. Maybe we will see something like this in a year or two when the new State Championship model settles into a good rhythm.


So lets look at the logistics.

If US nationals is on mainland
100 teams have to pay very little
10 teams have to pay a lot

Obviously the solution is to make
100 teams pay a lot
and 10 teams pay a little

NO it isn’t.

Even if the date change is a good idea (I am confused by it but don’t doubt in a few years it will seem like the right decision)

How is costing VEX teams more money a good idea?

Also its a lot harder to get school funding for an event during the summer.

No offense to any volunteers but I don’t care if the competition looks more appealing to you. There are 100 students for every volunteer at an event and that travel cost is huge.

When we are factoring in cost we have to remember that not only is flight a ton but everything there from food to hotel rooms will cost a lot more.
Subway who wants a 8$ 6 inch sandwich

The teams whose parents spoon-feed them money are the only ones who will be able to go. And don’t say we are wrong because we are allowed to voice our opinions. There is no right or wrong.

Not sure if I’m more mad about Nationals being moved and timing change or you saying we are wrong. You are outnumbered here. I’m sure if most of the teams who have gone to nationals in the past were on the forums, they would agree.

Give me more good reasons that Hawaii is a good location and June is good timing besides tests and FRC teams, and then maybe your side of the argument will make sense.