Notebook Help (My first year on notebook)

I found the old rule odd but went along with it. In the end, the notebook is like the rest of Vex… there is lifelong learning that can be done by using the notebook (the idea of writing out the problem so everyone is clear on what, exactly you are addressing) and then there are the rules that have to be followed to win the game (at least 3 ideas when brainstorming). As a coach, I try to focu on the former and simply remind the students of the later if they want to win.

It is a very good notebook, but I don’t think that you need to include all of the rules and field layouts or the table of contents. The judges are looking for the engineering part, and you are giving them way too much, so it is less likely for them to give you points.

I disagree. If you look at the Engineering Notebook Rubric ( you will find that the table of contents is part of achieving the five points for ‘notebook format’. A table of contents should absolutely be included.

Including and commenting on the field layout arguably goes towards identifying the problem (i.e., the game the team is competing in) and lays the groundwork for finding solutions (i.e., how to play it). It could also benefit judges who haven’t been to a VEX competition before.

If the judges don’t want to see that then they can use the table of contents to get to the first entry about design/build/programming, etc.


Just to note, the article you listed isn’t explicitly applicable or references VRC. I think this has been mentioned in this Q&A, but it is still a useful resource regardless.

Personally, I would still stick with some older (possibly redundant) notebook practices because most teams and judges would be accustomed to these practices, in addition to how it could most likely cover notebook requirements in the last strand of the engineering design rubric.

(also, happy birthday!)

Typically, a good feature that can be used to track changes in a digital notebook would be the version history functionality in most of these editors. I use Microsoft Word for my notebook and it can completely track all of my text changes throughout time which allows teams to be accountable for their edits and ensures that pages are made appropriately.

This is going to be a lot of text, but my notebooker on my team wrote “The 10 Commandments” of notebooking. It helped us win the “judges reward” twice. Hope this helps! (This is VEX V5, not sure how different it is compared to VEX IQ)

1. Consistency is Key: Develop a standard format for documenting each entry in your notebook. This could include sections for objectives, sketches, calculations, materials used, testing results, and reflections. Consistency makes it easier to navigate and understand your entries.

2. Detailed Descriptions: Provide thorough descriptions of your designs, mechanisms, and prototypes. Include dimensions, materials used, and any modifications made during the design process. This helps others understand your thought process and replicate your designs if necessary.

3. Use Sketches and Diagrams: Incorporate sketches, diagrams, and CAD drawings to illustrate your designs. Visual representations can often convey information more effectively than written descriptions alone.

4. Include Testing Data: Record the results of any tests or experiments conducted during the development of your robot. Include quantitative data such as measurements, timings, and performance metrics. This provides evidence of your design's effectiveness and helps identify areas for improvement.

5. Document Iterations: Document each iteration of your design, including changes made and the rationale behind those changes. This shows the evolution of your design and demonstrates your problem-solving skills.

6. Reflect on Challenges and Solutions: Take time to reflect on challenges encountered during the design process and the solutions you implemented to overcome them. Reflective entries provide valuable insights into your problem-solving approach and demonstrate your ability to learn from setbacks.

7. Include Team Contributions: If you're working as part of a team, clearly attribute contributions from each team member. This ensures that everyone receives credit for their work and provides transparency into the team's collaborative efforts.

8. Update Regularly: Make a habit of updating your engineering notebook regularly, preferably after each significant milestone or design iteration. This helps prevent information from being forgotten or overlooked and ensures that your notebook remains up-to-date throughout the project.

9.Review and Revise: Periodically review your engineering notebook to identify areas for improvement or clarification. Consider soliciting feedback from mentors, teammates, or instructors to ensure that your documentation effectively communicates your ideas and processes.

10. Stay Organized: Keep your engineering notebook organized and easy to navigate by using tabs, dividers, or a table of contents. This makes it simple to locate specific entries or reference previous work as needed.



I agree that there are lots of good version history tracking options out there. My point is, the rubric does not require them to be used. And I am almost certain the Judges Training said nothing about using those features to verify the changes and their timing, even if the features are available.

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I disagree with this, having rules and layouts is too much in a notebook, judges LOVE to see this kind of stuff. The “problem” in the design process is the game itself and the solution is your robot your programs and such. And yes like a regular book it needs a table of contents so the judges know where to flip for certain things they want to see. Rules are important as well so if your team breaks a rule, you can document it in there to state that “Hey, we broke a rule, this is why and how we can fix it” Hope this helps!