This year at Vex IQ the top 25 elementary teams scored higher than the top 25 middle school teams, it is possible for elementary teams do better than middle school teams?
definitely can happen
Primarily the fields were all varying in quality and messed ms teams (like myself only avg of 230) up. But after hundreds of matches, they began to approach what most fields that es kids had practiced on, and thus got better accuracy.
I would say there are 2 reasons why this happens as I have been a coach for both ES and MS teams. ES teams tend to be more into, and focused, on robotics in general because MS seems to have more things going on after school for them so they can’t commit as much.
The second reason, and the more controversial one, is based on what has been getting shared on certain social media groups and that is…that certain ES teams are “cheating”. There have been accusations that certain teams/clubs are buying robot designs, coaches are the ones building them, and that the kids are basically just practicing driving throughout the entire season.
I have no first hand proof or knowledge of this but it is something that has been making the rounds.
I somewhat agree with your first point about activity level and engagement. I don’t do VEXIQ for MS because lots of the MS roboteers don’t want to play with a “kids toy” when they can do metal.
I’ve had VRC MS teams build far better and higher scoring robots than some of the HS teams.
As to the second point, it makes me sad that you would buy into unsubstantiated accusations on social media the things that you posted. I’d like to think mentors / coaches would focus on building better robots than going “well we were at the bottom of our Worlds divisions because we got beat by teams with access to $5000 in parts that were dad built bots driven by roboteers that spent 20 hours a day driving in custom made, 9 screen simulators that could give them up to 150 different partner models to compete with.”
BlockquoteI’ve had VRC MS teams build far better and higher scoring robots than some of the HS teams.
If it were one or two teams in ES that were amazing, that would be the same thing. The best MS teams were outscored by the best ES teams, and it wasn’t close. The top MS VRC teams in VRC weren’t as good as the top HS teams, and the HS skills scores were almost 40 points better than their younger cohort.
I’d like to think mentors / coaches would focus on building better robots than going “well we were at the bottom of our Worlds divisions because we got beat by teams with access to $5000 in parts that were dad built bots driven by roboteers that spent 20 hours a day driving in custom made, 9 screen simulators that could give them up to 150 different partner models to compete with.”
The quoted statement above is a straw man and an over-reaction to what Mark said.
The OP pointed out that the top 25 in ES was far better than the top 25 in MS IQ. I don’t think anyone mentioned additional parts or resources (other than practice time). It is reasonable to at least question how younger, less capable, and less experienced students managed as a group to come up with higher scoring robots than an older group of their peers. One or two outliers? Sure, some special group of kids can do something amazing and maybe a team or two can have the skills run of their lives.
At Worlds, ES IQ was better than MS IQ. Only the top 3 MS bots would have been in the top 10 in ES skills, placing 4,5, and 6. Twenty one ES teams scored over 400 in skills, while only ten MS teams did so. ES programming skills scores were also consistently higher. Only 5 MS teams manged to score 200 or more in programming skills while 14 ES teams managed to do so. While I agree it is incorrect to accuse any team of wrongdoing without direct evidence, can you argue with the observation that ES IQ performance as a whole seems odd?
While not *the reason, I’ve also wondered how much the age limits play into the skills score ‘phenomenon’:
|7th Grade||12-13||Elementary or MS *|
There are students that are only required to compete in Middle School for a single year before they go to high school, which is 9th grade for many US students. In this case, you can ‘play up’ but why would you if you didn’t have to.
* Students are required to compete in Middle School if they turn 13 years old before the World Championship Competition dates.
** Most US students begin High School, while some locations do have a Junior High setup with a 7th, 8th, 9th setup
Which is what is going on in the “social media” and is being repeated over and over. TBH, I’ve been accused of building “Dad bots” (in my case Foster Bots) and because I have at least one of every Hexbug robot, I do have all those weird parts. “Hey those red arms are not legal” “Yes they are, they are from the racer kit” “Wow, must be nice to have all that money to spend on parts” is a exact conversation I had with another teams adult. The rest of it is projection of next year when CHAT-GPT4 becomes a robotics mentor.
I don’t think it’s odd Thanks to @GBR posting the age groups, a 12 year old roboteer can have 4 years experience building robots. VEX has made huge strides in improving the programming tools. Schools are doing more with programming. And for lots of roboteers they are coming off of two years being stuck in the house, so they had lots of time to learn how to program the robots.
A lot of locations don’t do VEX in elementary school, they do Lego. (And let me tell you some of those FIRST Lego League roboteers have jaw dropping skills)
Maybe Doug and Mark could reach out to those top 25 ES teams and the top 10 MS teams and get the details about
- Team age/grade
- How much actual experience does the team have
- How much time do they spend building
- How much time do they spend coding
** How many sensors and what type do they use
- How much time do they spend practicing
- What is their access to parts
** Just standard part?
** HEX bug parts?
- How many events did they go to last season?
- How many dads / moms on the teams are professional engineers and actually design the robots.?
I’ll bet that you’ll find the experience level, time spent and events will be far greater than the MS teams. But I’ll wait for the published data. (Hey a STEM Research Project!)
I think you pretty much summed up what I was trying to say with data to back it up, nicely done. I know if REC has, or gets, proof they will handle it. As someone who volunteered this year at skills and robot inspection at World’s, REC was doing a great job of making sure it was the kids and not the adults handling the robotics. Where there is smoke there tends to be fire.
It is indeed odd, and I would like to put my two cents into this discussion, ES Teams are not the only ones that can or have done this, (Not accusing anyone here) MS is still part of the problem, and I would like to say that by us denying that these purchased robot designs and mentor built are problems it is going to get worse, I’m not saying that all top teams do this, but in my state, it is a huge problem, top 4 had the same robot design, down to the brain placement, wire management, all that, same exact thing, two of the teams, when asked how they came up with their robot design, said that mentors had built it for them, other two said that they had no comment to make on their design process, I would like to think that this is not an issue, I would like to believe that next year everything is fine, and we all go back to normal, student-built robots. However I did this last year, and we ended up with more teams thinking this is okay, we need to address that this is a problem and fix it because the students I work with cannot be the only ones that are thinking of leaving this comp because of this issue. VIQRC is great, the community, all of that, but if students are wanting to leave before they find their place in this community, we will lose students.
From my understanding, the field affected the performance of slapshot robots a lot, as the ES fields had gone through all the use from MS, perhaps they more closely resembled the fields that they had been using at home. Not saying mentor building isn’t a problem, but this could be part of the reason for the higher scores for ES.
Good points. There was a team that was ruled ineligible at our regional because they admitted during the interview that they had adult help building their bot.
There is no doubt that certain other teams from around the world put in a ton of time designing, building, and practicing driving. Robotics is their “thing” for sure. I would never want to discount the hard work that many of these kids put in. But to ignore what appears to be very obvious manipulation of the intent of the program is naive at best. With some of these clubs that are bought into there is a ton of pressure to be successful. With that pressure comes temptation.
Another thing to take into consideration, how many of these top ES teams also worked alongside a MS team as well? With the growth of clubs and such in recent years, you have ES and MS teams working in the same place and it’s easier for ES teams to pick up on high-end designs a lot easier now.
Interesting take on it except that ES seems to outscore MS every year as of late. I do agree that as programs grow MS will tend to mentor ES more. But if the ES teams are copying MS designs then they also aren’t following the core ideas of the program.