Hi everybody,

My team holds a short 4 day camp for students to teach them about robotics through vex. One of the big things we do is hold a mock competition for them.
I need some help designing the game for them to play.

Here’s what we have so far:

The scoring objects will be colored tennis balls, because that is what we have on hand.
A 12’ by 12’ field is subdivided by tape into 9 sections like a tic tac toe board.
The center of each section has a goal.
Each goal has 2 parts, a high goal and a low goal. The low goal is a square with raised edges high enough to stop balls from rolling back out, but low enough for robots to be able to drive over them and not get caught. The high goals are a block with the top hollowed out, like the barrels in Gateway, centered in each low goal.

Points are given for each goal with a ball in it, not for each ball in the goal. Sorry, that is a bit unintuitive.
High goals are worth more than low goals and you get bonus points for each 3-in-a-row your team ends the game with.

The parts I need help with are the scales of everything. What should the dimensions of the goals be? What should the point values be worth? How many scoring objects does each team get? I would also appreciate any other helpful suggestions.

Some things to keep in mind are:
These kids will only have had around 5 hours working with VEX before getting this game.
They are about 5th to 8th graders.
They will only have between 4-6 hours to design and build their robot.
They will only have the parts for about 2 squarebots, meaning 4 motors and around 2 small chassis worth of metal.
We really just want them to have a good time.

Thanks so much for the help.

In terms of numbers of objects, you need to take into consideration how important you want scoring rate to be compared to just being able to score in goals.
If you don’t want speed to be a major factor, have fewer balls, so that most teams would be able to score most of them. This will also force teams to go for the higher-scoring goals to gain any advantage. Also, robots generally have to go further to reach the balls.
By contrast, more balls means hoarding as a strategy is much harder, and the field becomes much more cluttered. It also gives teams the choice between scoring lots of low goals or fewer high goals.

In terms of point values, I would say make high goals worth quite a bit more, because anyone can build a bulldozer robot; you want to be encouraging experimentation with more complicated things, even if the competitors are absolute beginners.
You should probably bear in mind that “descoring” will probably be quite easy in this game.

In terms of goal dimensions, if you only get points for each goal with one of your balls in, there is not much point making them any bigger than 2 or 3 balls. This also means that there would be no point in giving a team more balls than there are goals.

The great thing about designing Vex games is how creative you can be with the rules. A game will work fine with all kinds of modifications, its just a matter of deciding where you want the focus to be.
Based on my experience with similar workshops, I would go for 1 point for a low goal, and 3 or 4 for a high goal, and maybe 12 objects per team, unless you make it so every ball counts rather than every goal. But that is just my opinion, and others may well disagree.

I like the 3-in-a-row bonus, it is a very nice and simple way of adding an extra dimension to the game.

Hope this helps!
-Chris@AURA

I think that they should be around 6" so they are a challenge but not impossible within the part restrictions. The indent on the goals will depend on whether you are encouraging de-scoring or not.

I think that the high goals need to be worth the effort of building an arm and a grabber of some kind rather than just a simple squarebot so I think the low goals should be worth 1 point, the high goals 3 points and a three-in-a-row should be 5 points.

I think you should have slightly more total tennis balls than will fit in the goals. I think you should have around 20-24 tennis balls to give a team slightly more than will fit in the high goals so they have to go for both types of goals adding to the challenge.

Just my 2 cents

we held a summer camp and created a new game called cube soccer it was extremely simple and a big hit! its played on a 12 x12 regular field with the red and blue tiles in the corners (only 2 corners) and arranged elevation cubes in to stacks (could be done with any game element) and had the students try and push the cubes in to their goals. they built tumbler bots and base bots. some got ideas to put metal fixtures on the front of the robots to help them score the cubes. some got pretty intricate like claws and plows. the whole thing was a lot of fun and the students enjoyed it because the game was simple enough where our 6th graders could beat the 8th graders

If you haven’t made your goals yet, consider getting some 4" PVC pipe and cutting into the lengths you want for the goal heights: perhaps 1/2" or 1" for your low goals and 3-6" high for the high goals. My personal “let’s make a game kit” includes different lengths of 4" ABS pipe, some soccer ball tees (like these with the tops cut off), some Lexan goals from Elevation, a bunch of tennis balls striped red and blue, a few pink tennis balls (bonus points!), some 4" green balls from Clean Sweep, and some Elevation cubes. I suppose I’m now going to toss in some rings from Round Up, too.

With a box of different stuff you can make up an interesting game pretty easily.