I have two teams who really struggle with creating the Engineering notebook. One of the teams is made up of second graders, and large blocks of writing are difficult for them. One of the teams has a few kids who struggle with writing in general (dysgraphia). Would it be better for the kids to do their best on the Engineering notebook, even if it’s largely illegible or parts of it incomplete? Or would it be better to have them dictate and have an adult write?
Have them do their best. An engineering notebook doesn’t have to be all long blocks of writing. Bullet points can be great. Pictures/Drawings are great. Graph paper can really help with that.
With that age group I like to have them try and solve a simple challenge each entry… a sentence to identify the challenge, a few bullet points of possible solutions along with the one the team decides on starred, some drawings, and finally the results of their solution. Some days are a little different but it is easy for 2nd-4th graders and keeps them engaged.
I agree with curiousworx, have them do what they can. At the early ages being in this competition will be a completely different challenge than the older kids. You can use photographs of the robot in different stages of assembly. Have the kids write a sentence about the photo.