Response to: 3-ring binder notebook

@kellyc I have never experienced opposition to a 3-ring binder notebook in Arizona. At State, our team won Excellence with a 3-ring binder as a notebook. The Design Award winner, a frequent winner of Design and Excellence at other tournament, also uses a 3-ring binder. I think it is somewhat suspicious that this decision came up at the last moment and resulted in one school receiving all the judged awards. Note that I am not suggesting wrongdoing, as I don’t know any of the teams or organizers in Georgia. That one fact taken alone just seems suspicious.

RECF needs to make the requirements more clear and take steps to make sure they are actually followed at competitions. Right now its just a crapshoot of who you get as judges at your tournament.


This same situation has happened in Washington State, and even though I have a bound notebook, I don’t think that this is fair. I definitely think that RECF should clear this up and make a rule/statement that says all types of engineering notebooks should be considered and not disqualified. They also need to let people know about it, so all tournaments can be run the same.

I just posted a similar situation my team had here. This occurred at the Southern NE championships.

Here in Wisconsin, we have always allowed 3-ring binders as Engineering Notebooks. We do have some judges who do have a preference for hand-written bound notebooks and if all is equal between a 3-ring notebook and a bound notebook, there might be a slight bias toward the bound notebook. But we have NEVER, at least any event that my teams have competed in, nor any event I have run (have been running events since 2005), have we ever REQUIRED a bound notebook. The general principle has always been that if it isn’t specifically outlawed in the rules, then it is legal. The rules do NOT specifically rule out 3-ring binder Engineering Notebooks, therefore they are legal.

We’ve never outlawed 3-Ring Binder Notebooks here in VA. Heck I have my IQ and VRC teams do 3-Ring Binder notebooks.

I get that bound might be industry standard, but I still dislike the inherent bias in VEX against a digital or binder based notebook.

The industry standard is typed…

It depends what industry. Electrical or mechanical engineering? Computer science? Even then, I imagine companies may have variation.

Regardless, mandating a specific format (within reason) is ridiculous.

Even if we know that 3 ring binders aren’t supposed to be banned, but are preferred - that’s not good enough! What does preferred mean? How much extra preference should be given to hand-written bound notebooks? And all judges need to be informed and made to give the appropriate preference to the bound notebooks

While the source may be a bit biased, others say not. See

All 3 ACP Robotics teams also use 3-ring binders. Between the 3 teams, 4 Excellence Awards and a Design Award have been awarded.

Honestly, I would really hate to not be able to use 3-ring binders. The idea of having to glue/tape all non-written content (such as code or pictures) into the notebook would annoy me greatly and result in messier notebooks.

Also, the way I see it, there should be less focus on determining when entries were completed/whether they were revised later and more focus on how much care was put into the journal in general.

Most of those has typed for standard.

there’s not really anyone on my team who shows up consistently who has good enough handwriting for a handwritten notebook, we ended up giving the notebook to who is probably the only one on the team with decent enough handwriting and haven’t seen the notebook on months because she’s so busy. for the 2017-2018 season I doubt handwritten will be a viable option for us at all, unless we don’t mind the judges being unable to read it at all.

I think the best for everyone would be for VEX to remove the “bound notebooks preferred” clause. I think a lot of judges are taking this too seriously and making it into “bound notebooks required”.

I agree.

Requiring the notebooks to be hand written could ultimately lead to issues of discrimination based on a recognized disability and could become an ADA issue. There are some people (some very smart people) who are dysgraphic and hand writing is really not much of an option.

Dysgraphia is real.


in a perfect world we would be grading these notebooks on content not how the content is presented. I am a bad hand writer, I have to type anything out i plan to present.

I am a retired engineer with many years of working in notebooks as a daily part of work. I also am a judge advisor and judge. In Tenn. I stress we judge content against the Rubric which is a very good model of engineering practices. It appears to me that there is a common assumption that bound notebooks are hand-written. The Judge Guide clearly describes the correct practice for adding content such as printouts of code or CAD drawings.
I hope we are teaching the students to document their work while they are doing it and complete their documentation in the notebook using the practices described in the front of most professional notebooks.
This is not about how it looks but always about the content and an authentic record of the work.
The comment about dysgraphia is real and I support the students who have found a way to fully participate.

i agree

I have seen the issue on the forum before, so when I got the chance to speak with my RECF representative, @bill_ryno , about my engineering notebook I figured it was a good idea to ask him. From what I recall, the bound notebook is preferred because, although you could still put in incorrect dates, the level of accuracy is higher because someone who puts in the time to make a handwritten, bound engineering notebook will likely be more on top of it. In addition, it retains more psychological impact just as a handmade card is more impactful than a store bought card.
Furthermore, creating a handwritten notebook is much more work than making an online notebook, so it should get more recognition. Making an online notebook would be easier because, in order to make my handwritten notebook, I have to arrange charts and pictures on a word document so that I can print it off, then I have to paste them in, and then I get to comment on them. Making it online would eliminate the print/paste and make commenting easier. I am willing to put in the work in order to make it more appreciated, but I wish VEX would make a more decisive statement about it.
If you look on it says:

This is the only specification about the engineering notebook that I can find and, as this thread has previously pointed out, the word “preferred” is vague. I have already started this year’s notebook as a handwritten one, and I plan on continuing it that way. I think VEX should either lay down the law and say it is required to make a bound notebook, or say nothing at all about the format!