rules. does this really apply? how is it enforced?

General discussion - would like to hear from teams (I’m sure this topic or similar has been discussed before…I’m new to Vex as of 2 years ago, but I speculate this has been talked about):

Excerpt from the rulebook:

“In all aspects of the VEX IQ Challenge program, the Students make the decisions and do the work with adult mentorship.”

In my state, (Hawaii), it is strictly enforced. Coming from a judges perspective, we have been told by certain people not to give out awards when it looks like the adults are doing most/all of the work. Also as an adviser to a team as well, I have taken a step back in terms of helping them, I will spoon feed them ideas. But not give them the answer to problems. I only help them if they have tried their hardest and failed to get something out of it.

It’s an ethos and it is hoped that people abide by it. Generally, it is very difficult to win judged awards if you don’t abide by this ethos although it’s hard to prevent matches being won with robots built and programmed by adults.
On the whole, in my 8 years being involved with running events, I’ve hardly ever had concerns about this. Quite often, as MC’s at events, we do give gentle reminders when we see things going on that perhaps go against this rule and it’s usually just a case of over enthusiastic mentors trying to help their teams do things very quickly.

Was hoping for more input. Maybe over the next week or so more people will see this post and give their input. I will go ahead and throw my story out there…

Earlier this season, I was a design judge at a local event. A particular school had several teams at this event. As I pre-reviewed the engineering notebooks for all of the schools/teams I found in the back of one of the teams from this particular school some loose papers which had a filter equation, graph, and coefficients. This was college level work. Not only did I take courses on this topic, I taught DSP and digital filters in college. As I looked in the book itself, similar work was placed on the pages in the book.

During the interviews, two other teams from this particular school both had their programmers sick that day and could speak nothing to the program. They both described the use of an exact sensor setup both teams had in the exact incorrect inaccurate verbiage. Led me to believe they didn’t set the sensor up and didn’t know how it actually worked.

The particular team which had the notebook with the filter info in it did have their programmer there. The student opened the computer and showed me the program in which I asked a few questions. The filter was pointed out by the student and vaguely told me its use. I asked a few questions which said student could not answer. I then asked who developed the filter and where it came from. The student told me that the filter was developed by a team in a previous year and they were reusing. While I do believe that the filter was developed in a previous year, it in no way was developed by a middle school student. It’s a college level topic and even college students struggle with the concepts.

I was at a competition this weekend. Same school was there. Late in the day, I walked past the pits of this school. It was right next to the main exit of the pits to the fields. The student, who could not explain the filter to me at the previous competition, was sitting at a table next to an adult (I will just say the adult was a mentor as I don’t know the adults exact role). The adult was writing on a piece of regular sized note paper. I glanced at the paper and noticed he had a filter equation written down. Blew my mind. I circled back around to see what else would be wrote, next thing I see is a graph and more work detailing out this filter. The work looked similar if not exactly the same as what I saw in this student’s engineering notebook. So November to February, and this child is still trying to be taught what is in their robot.

In the finals, the 10 pairs of teams (20 teams total), bottom team pairs 10-7 had scores around 95 to 120, next bottom team pairs 6-2 had scores around 125 to 145, the top team pair (both from this school) had a score of 240 or so. I’ll note that both of these teams had already won a ticket to state at least 3 times at other competitions this season already, and will likely win yet another ticket to state this coming Saturday, as their school is hosting a local competition.

I know some schools have more mentor/adult hands on involvement than other schools, I suppose that is fine. At my child’s school, If I simply try to help a student (any of the teams, not necessarily my child’s team) to get their program to not have compiling errors, figuratively I get my hand smacked with a ruler from the teacher…while other schools have robots that at least appear to be 90% built and programmed by an adult. I’m new to Vex IQ, this is my second year being involved with my children. I’ve seen several schools which have a higher level of adult hands on work with the robots, but I feel this school is the worst offender. The question is…. Will anything be done about this or is this a green light signal for other parents and mentors to do as they wish on a student’s robot at any time they wish? I was warned by another team coach not to complain about this, as it might come back on me, my child, or their school. I find that warning interesting, a little puzzling…not sure what to make of it.

To me this rule doesn’t really apply, is too subjective, and is in no way enforceable. Hindsight (being my first year to judge, I didn’t throw a flag, I will next time though) I should have had the school DQ’ed at the event I judged at. Secondly, I would like to ask is it fair protocol to speak to the hosts of an event to have a school DQ’ed when you witness what I witnessed?

I’m not sure about other areas, but having coaches do the work doesn’t seem to be a concern to judges in Indiana. Our local Middle School is very fortunate to have a wealth of knowledge at their disposal. My husband and I (both engineers) have been mentoring at the school for the past two years, as well as several other technical-minded parents. We could all certainly build and program a top-notch bot, but as the previous poster stated, we (as mentors) operate at an arm’s length. We provide guidance by assisting through their thought processes and yes, get through compiler errors! There was an instance last season, where I was holding a team’s bot at practice just while one of the kids was getting a piece to add…and the kids were even taunting me that I wasn’t supposed to be touching the bot!

I have seen too many examples to recount, but one example really stands out. Last year, I (and others) witnessed a coach sitting on the floor next to a practice board before a match, laptop in his lap, programming away. The team that he was supporting was nowhere to be found. I stealthily took a picture with my cell and presented it to the head judges with my concerns. Nothing was done. Two weeks later, I witnessed this same coach building a bot at their team table (back in a corner)…and again, no kids were anywhere in sight. And, once again, nothing was done.

Just take a gander through the topics on this forum board! It’s quite evident that a large majority of these posts are from a parent or coach. Like the original poster said…most of these topics are ideas that I learned about in college! Can we make a forum that is more kid-friendly so that they can feel free to ask questions? Maybe we, as coaches, can provide answers or guidance on that sort of forum….instead of having this forum being driven by adults. I have been a long-time lurker myself, but this is my first response. Obviously, this post touched a nerve.

I also have concerns about some of the “rules” (or specifics of rules) of the VEX IQ competitions. I think some of the coaches have learned how to use the rules to their advantage. And while not technically “breaking the rules”, the coaches definitely add their influences to put their teams ahead. I have judged STEM presentations where teams have only sent their “best” 2 speakers. One of the Rubrics that is graded asks the question if everyone on the team knew the material. When I’m comparing a team that only sent 2 and knew the material very well against a “whole” team that knew the material just well enough, I had to give the edge to the 2 team…even though the rest of their team may know absolutely nothing at all on the topic! Also, we witnessed this past weekend, teams driving with their program during their skills rounds. I understand that the “rules” accept “assisted driving”, but driving with a program (that a coach probably wrote!) does not assess their driving skills. It only tests their ability to hit a button. During last season, one of our teams was paired up with another team during the qualification rounds and were told to do nothing but get on the ramp with them at the end. The other team ran their program and our team did nothing but join them on the ramp. How is that fostering teamwork and allowing these kids to learn?

I believe that judges should absolutely be assessing these bots and whether or not they are built at “middle school” or “elementary” skill levels. At every competition, it is VERY evident which of the few schools are coach enabled and which are student led. It’s very disappointing for our kids to be building (and learning) on their own, but have no way to compete with adult-built bots.

This is always a hot topic, sometimes justifiably so and sometimes not. Here are some thoughts from someone who has mentored, EPed, attended EP summits, and currently runs an organization that works with an entire region covering a number of districts, teams, etc…

We encourage all teams, mentors, etc. to be student led. That doesn’t mean that adults have no involvement or are babysitters only - it means the team is the driving force with assistance from adult mentors, older robotics students, fellow student mentors, as well as other teams. This is tempered by common sense - for instance I do not disqualify a 2nd grade team when their mentor helps them remove a battery or part from their robot they don’t have the dexterity for. On the other side we give extra scrutiny to teams that have adults sitting in the pits - we encourage all adults to be in the stands during competitions (again tempered by common sense.) We have infrequently DQed teams who obviously have adults doing the work in place of students. I have seen 3 week old teams with Worlds level robots and professional engineering notebooks - we made sure they were not eligible for judged awards after interviewing them but it would be over the top to not let them on the field in my opinion. Often a brand new team will outgrow too much adult involvement as both they and their mentors understand how everything is meant to work - sometimes they will not.

In regards to using code that they didn’t write, I have mixed emotions on that. On one hand it gives them an advantage other teams do not have. However, every team uses code they didn’t write and it is common for even professional programmers to use libraries they didn’t create. RobotC itself contains a ton of code that is already written much of which the average mentor wouldn’t understand! Many EDR teams use freely available libraries that they didn’t create.

There is another thing I often see happen and I mean no offense to boilerplategirl (I hope that the statement was made assuming interviews/etc.) but think this should also be discussed:

More often then I see adults too involved with teams, I have seen parents from other teams make the above assumptions in error. I am in a unique position of working with 100s of teams and I have heard many of them say so-and-so team is a “dad-bot” or that the mentors did the work and I know this is not the case. I know elementary level VEX IQ students who have surpassed their high school EDR/FRC counter-parts! By the time some of these students reach middle school they already have 4-5 years of robotics experience. It is highly unfair to assume that students from these sorts of teams are not capable of a high-level robot - some experienced teams practice year-round and have been through 10+ iterations by the time competition happens in the US. That is why enforcement of this rule is difficult - there are no easy guidelines or black and white cases.

I am not saying some teams aren’t over-mentored, I am simply saying it is nearly impossible to know without spending time with the team and speaking with the students. It is not a positive thing to assume the worst or encourage other students to assume it. Robotics should be fun - not just for the students!

I’ll end with Quarkmine’s “food for thought” we share with all teams in their event packets:

It is Excellent to win…
It is shameful to win at all costs.

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No offense taken! But, yes…my statement was made following experience with design interviews/casual walkthroughs/presentations. I work in software and am well aware of the benefits of code re-use. However, when asking a student what a particular function is supposed to do (or as the original poster said about using filters!) and the students have absolutely no clue, it is quite evident that a coach/mentor “helped” a little too much. And, like I said in my post, when I have witnessed a mentor on multiple occasions blatantly doing the work for their team (with no students even remotely close to him), it tends to support the “dad-bot” theory.

We, as mentors, should be teaching the kids…not doing. And, I think it is a relatively easy thing to assess the “over-mentored” teams. There is much to learn by looking at their design notebooks and just talking through their processes with them. Sitting with each team for 10 minutes can paint a pretty clear picture of how much they know or don’t know. Now, what does the penalty for “over-mentored” teams look like? I appreciate that you have DQ’ed teams in the past. I’ve been to many (too many?!?) competitions in the past two years, and have yet to see that happen here…even in cases where it was witnessed first hand.

It is interesting to hear the different philosophies about what “mentoring” looks like. Obviously, at different ages and program experience, different levels of “help” are needed. My experience has been helping at the Middle School level and with a fairly experienced program. Obviously, they are not going to need the same level of assistance as a new elementary program. But, how do we (as a program) encourage more kid-driven programs and discourage the “hands on mentorship”?

I love your ending quote, by the way. Absolutely, robotics should be fun! But, whether we like it or not, that doesn’t always mean winning. We often learn more by losing.

Another thing to keep in mind as a guiding principal is this… REC is education first, competition 2nd (I know I’m waxing philosophical on a hot topic.)

Ultimately a team that is student driven will get more out of VEX IQ then a team that is adult driven. Most will have a better time and enjoy the experience more (when is the last time you saw a 4th grader say “oh that’s a dad bot and not oh that’s an awesome robot?”) Adult driven teams tend to show in the attitude of the kids and they usually don’t last a long time.

By the time these students reach VRC it is highly unusual for adults to over-mentor. At most of the VRC events I have been to, run, judged, etc. it was a rarity to see adults in the pits. Usually by then the kids still doing it are the ones who have the skills and perseverance on their own and they have surpassed most mentors in skill.

I know it is hard to think about the long game when you have kids on a team, just relaying what I have seen over the years.

It does far more damage to a program to hear accusations about robots (when they aren’t accurate) then you may imagine. More damage then a dad-bot here and there. Dad-bots tend to bother other adults more then the kids unless the kids have heard the adults ranting about it.

In the end (and this is one of the reasons I prefer elementary and middle school to compete against one another) getting beat, even by a older kid or dad-bot will benefit a student who loves STEM. They will observe, plan, do, and come up with ways to build a better bot! They will spend their time “shooting free throws” so they get better. Most dad-bots are just copies of robots they have seen on youtube anyway!

Yes, thinking this way will help other adults when they come across a possible dad-bot… or MOM-bot! :slight_smile: Education first!!!

Our state has the local events combined together - MS and Elementary. Is it not like that everywhere? When we got to state and it was separate, it was a tough transition!

Recently I’ve spoken to an out of state friend who’s kid was involved in a program where literally the mentor wouldn’t let the kids touch the robot! He had a miserable season. So sad.

What is a filter? #AskingForANon-EngineerMentor

I’ve been involved with competitive robotics in Indiana for 12 years, 9 years with VEX. Let me start by saying that VEX IQ has been a huge challenge last year and this year. Our growth from less than 200 total teams a couple years ago to 900 elementary and 211 middle school teams this year has been difficult to accommodate. There are a large number of new teams and event partners that I don’t believe have received adequate training. In past years most of our events were blended, this year they are separated by grade level.

I have seen a few instances like you describe over the years, but I can fairly confidently say that in many cases it is not intentional actions on the part of the adult. I was at an event this past weekend where it was the first competition for about half of the teams there. We spoke with the teachers and mentors from several teams and they didn’t know half of the rules of the game. This was also the first qualifying event for the event partner so there was a lot of learning that was going on from the aspect of running an event. In settings like this it can be very easy for things to slip because the teams, event partner, and volunteers may not have the experience or training they really need. In this case another experienced event partner was helping as well and things really ran without too many issues, but the potential was certainly there for the types of issues you described.

As Quarkmine suggested don’t be too quick to make assumptions about other teams. I’ve judged middle school teams that could explain in detail parts of their program that blew me away, and I’ve been a Software Engineer for almost 30 years. I also have a 4th grade daughter that is in her third year of competing in IQ. She grew up in the stands and pits for FRC and VRC teams and at 3 years old was putting together movable mechanisms from her brothers’ spare parts. She can see and build solutions to her robot’s problems but can’t always document or describe it well because much of her learning has been experiential and she just knows that this is what works. I’m sure this doesn’t come across very well in her Design interviews many times.

Most Indiana teams and event partners are trying hard to do things the right way and make this about the students. If you have concerns at future events I would definitely suggest you talk to the event partner about it. Depending upon the situation you may want to talk to the team directly but this can be a little touchy. As an event partner myself I have approached teams before (not at my event) and told the team mentors that if I saw this at my event this is the action I would take. I’ve even had to do this with one of my own teams in the past. As far as your team being told to stay out of the way I agree that does not promote teamwork. Sometimes this comes down from the adults and sometimes it just comes from the kids. I’ve see both and dealt with both on my teams.

I know many of the Indiana event partners and if you would like to discuss this further please feel free to send me a private message.

​Jay

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I really appreciate the replies and input. I do agree with not making assumptions and not making false accusations as to not hurt the program.

I may post a longer reply later. But I want to be clear, there is no assuming going on here. This is based on design interviews and physical witness. I agree with a lot of what has been said, but the situation I present has only been refuted with “don’t make assumptions”. Which I am not. 100% certain of that. In fact, Quarkmine’s comment about VRC not being over mentored is absolutely 100% right on. This school wasn’t even in top 10 of an event they held, and of their VRC teams only 1 has 1 ticket to state. So our children do stand a chance once they get to VRC, but that’s a long row to hoe with a lot of discouragement and disappointment along the way when the best you can do is half the points of an adult built robot.

I have a few questions in regards to some points that are made.

If this is about education (which should be the case) and not competition, what is the point behind a school having 15 tickets to state among their 5 teams? If that school is for education and encouraging STEM then why not back off and let others have chance at a state ticket? What drives a school, a school with adult built robots, to dominate like that?

Although, already commented on, what is the point in telling a team to “do nothing” in the finals? I have witnessed this by this exact school in the crossover challenge last year. Why would a school with adult built robots allow their teams to tell their teammate, just stand still don’t do anything?

As I saw in a comment on a post that was made just this week a #1 qual team quit playing near in the end of a match in an attempt to throw the competition to another team in their school. Where is the education first in that? sabotage another team so another team from their school can make it to state?

What is more damaging to the program? a few false assumptions of adult built robots OR discouraging students who may feel they aren’t as smart as other teams that have an adult built robot? My child is lucky enough to have a dad that knows better I can tell my child that they will be much more successful than this school that has an adult built robot. And while he/she may not get a Vex scholarship, the true team work, design, and programming skills he/she is learning over that school is much more valuable than winning by not playing by the rules. And I’m going to be clear for a second if I’ve confused someone, I do for fact point out to my child that this school does have adult built and programmed robots so he/she doesn’t get discouraged and gives up. I’m just glad he/she will be in VRC next year, and I’ll make a promise to you all reading this, my younger two are in elementary Vex IQ, they have a clawbot, and I promise you when they are in middle school I will not sit back and let this school do what they are doing right now. You got 1 more year to clean your act up.

And I’ll dispute the claim of 10 iterations before they got to this stage. Part of the criteria in the notebooks is to have several designs concepts, which I did not see in this school’s books. The most complex adult built robot, I asked the team in the interview, what other designs did you consider before you built this robot? their answer “a clawbot”. Are you kidding me? a clawbot and this masonstrosity of a robot? That was the two choices. I don’t think so.

I don’t have a problem with adult built robots per se or a higher degree of hands on mentoring but I do have a problem with taking all tickets to state and putting up twice as many points as your closest competitor at any given competition when you have an adult built robot.

^^^ yes that is a short reply.

uncchs9: here are a few links about digital filters. It’s a college level topic even the simplest form doesn’t belong in a middle school robot if it’s not understood by the student.
https://www.mathworks.com/help/signa…tedDomain=true
http://www.dspguide.com/pdfbook.htm start with chapter 14

yesterday afternoon, I watched my child work for an hour and a half to get three rings on a post non-uniform autonomously in RobotC. and guess who did the work? he did. it works about 50% of the time. he was determined and did it on his own. <----- the way it should be.

Soooo much to talk about. I’m yet another long time Indiana coach and EP with another long post.

My main goal as a coach is to teach the kids. Sometimes, that means letting them struggle, other times it’s giving them the answer. In the end, if they can explain why or how the robot does that, they have learned something. (That is simplified)

I’ve never dq’d a parent-bot. But I have talked with (warned) over-involved parents. You can NOT tell who built the robot by looking at it. But it only takes a minute to assess how much the students know. I don’t like the idea of punishing the kids because the parents were over-involved.

I’ve also never had a coach/parent tell me “Team XX has a dad-bot”, when I didn’t already know it. I may appear to shrug it off, but that’s because I’ve already dealt with it. Those teams don’t win judged awards. But I can’t say all events are run the same way.

At our last event (two weeks ago) the judges were blown away by the notebook and STEM from one elementary school. I don’t like to be involved in the judging deliberations, but I wanted to make sure the judges were confident that the students did the work. In the end it was decided that the coach (a 5th grade teacher) did a great job of teaching the students, and their two teams won STEM & design over several Middle School teams.

All the Spots: In Indiana, the number of state spots is set. 50 MS team and 150 ES teams will be going to state. No school will change the number of spots. A team that earned 15 spots will still only go once. 14 other teams will also be going, they will just earn a spot another way (from Skills) Do we really need to tell the 15-spot-earning team to stop improving? — I will very much accept that this paragraph is MY OPINION. Others may feel different and I’m not trying to argue.

Stay in the Corner: Teamwork is a tricky thing, and the VEX IQ challenge is set-up like no other sport, because you have to work with the teams you’re trying to beat. A couple years ago, in Bankshot, there were 44 balls on the field, and teams could put them in 1 or 3 point goals. Some teams were able to collect all 44 balls and put them in the 3-point goals (and have a shot a winning Worlds), while others could pick up a few and score them in the 1-point goal (no shot to win, but are there for the experience) Two possible strategies (A) Let one team score all the balls and get 132 points or (B) Have both teams score and earn less points. With each of those strategies a different team is being SELFISH.

My teams have always been in the A camp. And at Worlds have sometimes been paired with teams in the B camp. I’d love to hear a good argument for either strategy. Again, there are two balanced sides to this.

driveguy: great to hear about your child’s success. It can be tough to explain how parent un-involvement can be a good thing.

Steve

I just hate these discussions. I come from the FRC competion (big robots, big fab skills, big programming). It’s a mentor driven program. Mentors transfer their skills to the roboteers. Sometimes that means I machine a part and you watch, you machine a part and I watch and then you machine the rest of the parts. And there is an unbelievable amount of “mentor shaming” that goes on, even though it’s a mentor driven program.

VRC I help transfer what I know about robots to the roboteers. I don’t build the robot, the roboteers do that. We may have a discussion about what part may work better (umm it’s a pretty heavy arm, have you considered the VEX turntable? ) I will teach them how to assemble the turntable since it’s a huge pain to get it done the first time. Does that make it a Foster-bot?

VIQ is the same way. You can’t throw a box of VIQ parts at an elementary roboteer and expect them to be successful. They need some level of “help”. Feel free to swap out the word “Help” to “Education”. So we have sessions on how gears work, how to figure out ratio’s etc. Does coming by a team that is struggling with an arm that’s moving to too fast and saying “Hey, have you thought about the gear ratio you are using?” does that make it a Foster-bot?

I’m super done with the entire “Student led” as an absolute. Other than free play, nothing is “absolutely student led” and is successful. It’s Olympic time, do you think any of those kids got there by being just student led? Doug Pederson, Eagles Coach shows up every day. Does he say “go play football?” He doesn’t play, but he was a key factor in the Eagles Championship. And those people are adults.

So lets dial back the “dad-bot” nonsense. I’m like Steve and Quarkmine, I’ve seen more than my share of roboteers that have blown me away with their skills. But none of them started out with just a box full of parts and a “hey be student led, it will work out”. Those two guys have an epic ton of skills, they don’t build robots, but they are awesome at teaching skills to roboteers.

Let’s approach the issue a different way. If you have a parent that’s building, you should sit with them and teach them how to teach their roboteers. Tell them that you recognize their skills in robot building, can you work out a way to transfer their skills to the roboteers. Trust me, that will be well received and go farther than yelling at them. (But let me tell you now that teaching people how to teach isn’t that easy.)

Like Steve, I’ve dealt with people that don’t get it. Ask the parent that I forced to wear oven mitts. (Hey, if you can assemble VRC parts with oven-mitts on, go for it). Eventually they get it. But when you come tell me “Hey that’s a dad-bot” I’ve dealt with it, and you should assume the parent is out of build mode and into teach mode. I’m an VIQ judge, I can look at a notebook and tell you if a fourth grade team did all the work. (Pro tip, perfect handwriting, no spelling/grammar errors, and they have nailed the use of the Oxford comma, it’s not a fourth grader. When in doubt ask them to sign your “autograph book” match the writing)

Penultimate point , I just don’t get the “school has 15 tickets to States”. It’s one ticket per robot. If the school has 15 robots and all of them are going to States then I’m pretty impressed that they were able to get 50 roboteers together to build 15 robots that won events, have taught them the communication skills, have watched them come up with strategies and worked with other people that are complete strangers to score well on matches.

Finally, there is a line between letting people flounder around and giving some direction. Your entire life, including these words, has been full of people offering you helpful tips and ideas. Why now would you take your most precious possession and not do that for them?

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Foster, I appreciate the input. and I agree with 100% of what you said. However, I believe you and others have missed my point. While there is a fine line between giving direction and not, there is stark difference in doing the work for someone and mentoring them. I definitely mentor the teams I work with and do not do the work for them. Never have I let them sit there and flounder around. I have also never assembled one single part or programmed their robot for them. I have taught them how a latch works, or how to build a sequencer in their code, abso freaking lutely. Also, In no way can I go to another school and put oven mitts on a bunch of teachers/parents/mentors, it wouldn’t go over so well. The original questions still stand, does this rule apply? how is it enforced?

The answers I have received are “no it’s not, it doesn’t really matter, it can’t be enforced, no it won’t be, and I’m done with this rule”. Which is fine. Also, based on the feedback, the experienced mentors here are ok with a child having a college level topic programmed into their robot that they can not explain in any form or fashion. Which is also fine. I just wanted to know what the community thinks. So when my child’s teacher smacks me with a ruler (figuratively) for simply searching the RobotC web help file and pointing out a solution (e.g. an instruction to zero the motor) to my child I will send her to this forum post and let her read all of your feedback.

To explain the 15 tickets to state, let’s say said school has 5 teams which all go to the same 5 competitions, 2 of their teams win the teamwork challenge at all 5, one of their teams also win the excellence award at all 5. These awards are spread across all 5 teams at the 5 competitions. That is 15 tickets to state they have won, yes, they only have 5 robots going to state. Again the question remains, what is the point in this? And don’t give me the hone and improve your skills line, if they wanted to hone and improve their skills they would design and build their own robots…and if you needed to hone and improve your driving skills then first of all drive (instead of running a program during the driving skill) and second do you really need to improve if you’re putting up double the score of your closest competitor at a given competition.

I’m glad you hate these discussions.I would rather not have them as well. Fostet et al., since you all are such seasoned vets at this robotics thing and can run circles around me with your experience, you should speak with Vex and have this so despised “student led” rule revised, reworded, and reworked such that it is reasonable, enforceable and fosters a learning environment (and I won’t get my hand smacked with a ruler).

You all have helped me well, next year will be much more hands on.

Driveguy, your thread seems to have diverged into two separate discussions, and one of them (why do teams continue competing in qualifying events after qualifying for regional championships?) is being paralleled in the VEX World Coaches Association group on Facebook. It’s a polarizing subject that coaches feel strongly about, one way or the other, and I believe a lot of the opinions begin and end with the teams’ goals for the season.

My team, for example, feels like after being interviewed by judges multiple times at Worlds last year they might have been close to winning a judged award. Their goal for this season is to not only return to Worlds but to be a contender for Judged awards, including Excellence. To do that (as you likely already know) they have to be contenders in every facet of the larger competition.

Their STEM project, engineering notebook, and interview must be exceptional, and they’re continuing to work on those.

They have to rise to the top in Teamwork once at Worlds, which requires that they have considerable experience in creating and adapting driving strategies with other teams. This experience comes from tournaments, the more the better.

Lastly, and speaking directly to your “do you really need to improve if you’re putting up double the score of your closest competitor at a given competition” question above, they must rise to the top of the global skills heap. Being the best in your region is not enough if you’re shooting to be the best in the world. Period. Given that each of these teams is starting from the same place (mentor involvement aside for the moment), any team with the time and the drive should be encouraged to shoot for being the best, if that’s their goal.

Each of the points above still apply if a team is only shooting to be the best in their region, and win State/Regional Excellence. Qualifying for Regionals early in the season, then not competing for awards again until Regionals deprives teams of opportunities to re-engineer, improve, and test improvements to their robot in competition. It also means they’re no longer creating and adapting driving strategies with other teams.

Now back to your original topic. :slight_smile: I agree with your frustration about the differences amongst teams and regions regarding adult mentors vs adult workers, and I believe that all of us in this thread have the same goal of wanting kids to love VEX IQ. RECF appears to work every year to find a happy balance between not enough rules and too many, and I hope that this rule and others will continue to be adjusted in language and tone to strike the right balance. For now, it’s up to each of us to do what we believe is right. I love that your child is both being taught and being allowed to lead the engineering process, and it sounds like your interpretation of that rule matches mine exactly.

While this has somewhat taken two different directions, the intent in the conversation all boils back to one root-cause, adult built robots. Adults doing work for students and them presenting it as their own. Students having college level work in their robots that they can not explain in any form or fashion.

Maybe the rules need to be adjusted such that if you already have a ticket to state/regional, whatever the applicable term may be, that the next runner up gets the ticket if you win yet again. So if one of the two final winners in teamwork already have a ticket and they win then the next highest seeded team in the runner up in finals gets the ticket, if both final winners have a ticket then both runner up teams in the finals gets the tickets. Just offering a compromise solution that would, to me, promote education, not discourage teams who do not have as much adult hands on, and once those that do have adult hands on win they can keep competing and “honing” their “skills”… and leave opportunity for others. Same could be said for excellence award. Now if this is not a good idea I’d be open to hearing criticism of it. I’ll stand by my statements and feelings that as it is, it does not foster an environment that is educational or encouraging to the students.

I do believe that there should be balance between rules and common sense. However, if this topic comes up from time to time and if we hate this subject, then why not make it less gray? Some students themselves take this to the extreme, I’ve seen students fuss at a mentor for picking up a robot from the floor and putting it on the table saying “you can’t touch the robot”. And as boiler girl states, she’s taken pictures of an adult programming away with no student in site. So my suggestion would make some clear cut examples of what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior, that way both the students and the adults have a balanced picture of how things should work… vs. the current generalities that are made in the rules… and as we can see with generalities we are left to people’s preferences and opinions, and we all know that never works out… if it did we wouldn’t be coming back to this topic time and time again (albeit this is my first time in the conversation). If we hate the topic so much then let’s fix it.

Here’s to more hands on next season.

I agree that clarification of this rule would help the organization. I haven’t attended the EP Summit in previous years, as it’s really stinkin’ far away from me. That said, I’ve now heard that there may be some dial-in options that I plan to seek out for the next one. Concrete examples of what’s acceptable and what’s not would go a long way toward helping mentors make good decisions. Yes, let’s fix it, and on a global level.

Currently, the only on-book penalty I can find for violations is that violators should not be considered for judged awards–which does nothing to address adult-heavy robots in Teamwork and skills. A rule that’s more consistent could help ensure that mentors’ level of hands-on-help is more consistent, and improve the experience for the kids. (edited–seems there is an option for refs to DQ violators, according to the VEX reply in the “official answers” sub-forum–time for me to go re-read the game manual again!)

Thanks, Driveguy, and I hope to “see” you at the next EP Summit! :slight_smile:

@driveguy and @mionsinger – It may be worth while to split this threat into the “teams that win and take teams” - “teams that push school teams into winning” and “dad-bots” into different threads.

So I’m going to stay on the “dad-bot” thread here.

I really can’t help. Locally I tamp it down. I tell ALL my parent the oven mitt story, it makes a difference. Feel free to socialize it with your teams. Hit the Dollar Store and buy a pair as props. I know you can’t zip tie mitts to people, but I’m happy to be the role model (?!?) for the crazy EP in Delaware that does that.

A lot of my life is driven by “and thats why we can’t have nice things”. LLBean recently announced that they would not honor lifetime replacements due to people abusing the system. I bought duck shoes and at year two they failed, I got new ones. The current pair is at year 20 and I wouldn’t send them back.

Robots is the same thing. A few dozen parents mess things up, but out of 20K robots, they are the minority. But let’s use them. Don’t take pictures of the parent coding. Go to them and say “Hey, you are writing code, can you help my team?” 50% of the parents don’t know that what they are doing is wrong, but all of them are willing to help.

You are all mentors, you are 100% into making things that seem like disasters become positive learning experiences.

“Life isn’t fair, the Fair comes to town in August” is a phrase I often use. Don’t be driven down. We all work and live in a world that isn’t fair. We teach roboteers lots of things, here is another.

Next @Paul_Copioli is the guy that runs VEX Robotics. They make the parts / software / etc. that we all love. Dan Mantz runs RECF, they run the event part. Paul steps up alot since he is 110% invested in us, he’s a long time FRC mentor and he gets the “mentor shaming”. Direct your competition changes to Dan, as the CEO, of RECF he can make the changes you want. He’s also 110% invested, so your emails to him will also get a response.

Dan has a hard job, he’s running NASCAR but not 60 teams, but 20,000 teams. It’s a lot to wrangle, hard to do with lots of issues to manage. Help him help you.

Lastly, step up, be an Event Partner. It’s not has hard as it looks. Roboteers and Parents are excited, the Tournament Manager software will run the scoring side of your event. You can do 16 team events in your school cafeteria. Or has the Kiwi’s have proven, in a big back yard with a few BBQ’s and some fields.

I started 10+ years ago with 4 roboteers and 1 event 2 hours away. Next year we had two dozen robots and 6 events. Events are so easy. Some people think you need indoor fireworks, bands, and cheerleaders. You need a place for 16 teams to build (16 tables), a field (on the floor) and a laptop. Math time: 16*6 (16 teams with 4 roboteers and 2 parents) is 96 people. You had that many for Thanksgiving, and with robots you don’t need to deal with weird uncle Frank. — Go Do An Event!!