Engineering notebook question

So, according to the rubric for the design award, teams who use bound notebooks for their engineering notebook receive 3 extra points. Now say at a competition there are 2 notebooks that receive perfect scores: one is a binder and the other is a bound notebook. The bound notebook gets three extra points, so it technically should win. But if the binder is much more descriptive and organized and the judges like it better, is there any chance that the judges may pick the binder?


Yes. The interview is also considered also.

At that point it may come down to an interview. For a regional qualifier or competition it’s honestly up to the judges to decide who they would pick, but generally you want a bound notebook. It makes it more professional and helps with scoring

Read over the judges guide. The judges are never instructed to go by the highest score.

They generally consider the top 5 or 6 scores, then they pick the best team among those.

I think most teams don’t realize the importance of the interview, which can make-or-break your award consideration. If something happens that the judges don’t like (unprofessional behavior, poor team interactions, or excessive mentor/adult involvement), this can completely blow a teams chances for any award, regardless of how good the robot and notebook is or how the robot performs.

Although rubrics are used, the scores of the rubrics generally only determine award finalists, not the final award recipients themselves. Typically the top half-dozen teams for each award consideration will have perfect or near-perfect scores on the rubrics (which is one reason why rubrics are never returned to teams. If you need to understand further on this, be a judge at states or worlds and you’ll understand better).

For the judged awards (Amaze, Think, Build, Create, and Judges), these are based almost entirely on the interview, with some consideration given to teams’ standings at the time that deliberations are taking place, which is usually near the end of the qualification matches on Friday. At Worlds, these judging teams do not have the notebooks to review, as it is a different team than the design award judges, so if you need materials for a better presentation, prepare them outside of the engineering notebook. Things are usually different at state/regional/district competition because there is not a separate design judge team.

For the Design award at worlds, not every team is interviewed, only the teams with the top notebook scores. So the score on the rubric will not be the deciding factor since the finalists all have pretty much the same score. The interview will again be the deciding factor.

As has been told to me multiple times by my RSM when I’ve seen otherwise at events, the rubrics are not used for final selection of the winner. They are a filtering tool to get a viable set of candidates for the award.

@sankeydd @kmmohn To clarify, in the situation the OP described, according to your answers, the binder would always lose because it had a lower score than the bound notebook and thus would not be in the top 5 or 6 which all had perfect scores?

Actually, the OP mentioned 2 notebooks, one bound and one a binder. In that scenario, the binder does not automatically lose as the score on the rubric is NOT the only criteria. In your scenario, where there were several bound notebooks with perfect scores and a binder that was perfect except for the 3 point bonus, as a judge, I would still include the team with the binder in my considerations.

That being said - with all things equal (meaning ENs were equivalent and interviews were equivalent), I would lean toward the bound notebook. It is very hard to demonstrate that a 3-ring binder has not been editted and contains a chronological accounting of the design and build process. One common clue, to me, that a 3-ring binder was created after the fact is when a schedule is perfect. It is nearly impossible to prospectively generate a perfect schedule. Retrospectively, yes, but not prospectively.

And if you can prospectively generate an accurate schedule for any non-trivial project…you have a great future. But it’s not realistic to believe this is possible.

At a local event, especially in October, losing three points would be fine as long as you knock out the rest of the rubric well. There aren’t many “perfect” notebooks at those local events. You won’t have that leeway at states or Worlds, but most of the competitions you go to are local events.

If your binder is an absolute knockout then you will always be a good contender. However, while we are early in the season just go bound!

I totally agree with the interview explanation. Teams do not realize that they are being watched by judges all day. Your interview and attitude towards the judges really count. Last year, we had a team that had a fantastic notebook. At the interview, the team members acted like they did not want to be there. Your softskills do count even at a robotics competition. The main goal is to learn transferable life skills.