Would it be frowned upon to use an online notebook?

So I’m lazy, and throughout last year I was doing the notebook for my team. Everybody on our team had bad handwriting (including me) and including accurate sketches were also difficult. My team also seemed to suffer from a lack of transparency. If my builder took the robot and changed it over the weekend, I wasn’t told what changes were made, so I wrote them down based on my own observation. If I make a kind of Google Doc notebook, I think that my productivity and the team’s ability to communicate would increase. Formatting and making mistakes in pen wouldn’t be a problem for my clumsy self, and we could easily add in pictures in color, which most of our printers at school can’t do. Sketching could be done in 3d and in Google Sketchup, which is on every school computer. Now I was curious, would a judge maybe not consider our notebook if it was done using this method? It sounds like I might be accused of working after meetings and away from my team, and there could be a situation where the judges cannot receive/view my notebook.

Presently you cannot use digital notebooks

REC Foundation: “Please remember that Engineering notebooks should not be edited documents and that a bound notebook is preferred.”

But nothing is stopping you from printing your digital notebook and sticking it in a binder. Lots of teams do that, because nobody does a 600 page hand written notebook.

This is what my team did last year, and while our notebook was never rejected, we certainly never won any awards. Because of this, and the fact that judges are able to prefer a bound notebook over a printed one, I would personally advise against it.

It also depends on the region and the judges. 3 Ring Binders did very well in Indiana this year.

I think it’s a good idea to use a google notebook, but I recommend not using Google Docs. Especially when placing images and moving around text, it can get particularly annoying. Instead, try making a Google Slide and making the page dimensions 8.5 by 11. This way you can do some pretty advanced object arrangement as if it was a powerpoint but print it out like it was a word document.

I think it’s really gotta do with your area. Here in south texas plenty of teams have won with typed notebooks. Although admittedly it’s easier for a judge to feel a bias for written notebooks. It really does look like more effort was put in(depending on how well you did it, of course), even though nothing like this is supposed to be evaluated according to the rubric.

That is actually a really awesome tip in general, thanks for sharing that.

It’s also possible our notebook was trash

It depends largely on your region. Where I am, it’s usually fine, I got multiple interviews with my printed online notebook, but where you live the Judges might find it unacceptable. At Worlds, for example, you cannot have a printed notebook, it must be handwritten (this usually leads many teams to create a digital notebook, and recreate it manually when going to Worlds, not the best system)

Delaware loves great notebooks in three ring binders!! While I still rock the bound notebook for my engineering work notes, I’m also using on-line systems to share documents with colleagues around the world. In Delaware we embrace technology, as noted above, your mileage may vary in luddite states. :slight_smile:

I have not seen any specific rules saying notebooks MUST be handwritten at Worlds. Only that they are evaluated by the Design Rubric. Only mention of handwritten and bound is that it is the preferred method.

I also do not remember anything saying that only Hand Written Bound Notebooks would be accepted at worlds. I DO remember a forum post with a ruling against submitting a laptop or table with a digital notebook, though.


It sort of is but it does not DQ you from awards. This season our D bot one an Excellence award and design award with an printed online notebook.

How many of you making these claims have had experience (or at least one of your mentors) as a World Judge??? This isn’t actually true, there is nothing in the scoring criteria about handwritten or printed. And rewriting a printed notebook by hand is asinine. Just publish/print all you want, and stick the daily journals in an appendix as backup material. The rubric is no secret, and is available on the RECF pages (although current documents have not yet posted because the game just changed).

Step back a minute to consider why judges look at handwritten work: if I, as a judge, am looking at a perfectly formatted, impeccable, professionally printed engineering notebook, how do I know that this isn’t the work of MentorMom or MentorDad? I have to rely on the interview to try and determine if the students are actually as mature and scholarly as the notebook implies. If, on the other hand, a printed presentation is accompanied by hand-written notebooks/journals in the appendix, I can at least have objective evidence that the engineering process was followed throughout the year, and not just fabricated for the notebook.

This is all completely logical and reasonable. The only wrench in the whole thing is that RECF decided to throw in one line in one document saying that hand written bound notebooks are “preferred”, and it made a mess of everything. I agree that the rubric is no secret, and that the notebooks should be judged on the rubric and NOTHING ELSE. I hope to either see the format of the notebook added to the rubric, or the wording of “preferred” completely removed or replaced by “required”.

So to specify, I’m from Maryland. I should ask a judge or two locally and act accordingly

That would probably be a good place to start.

Good point, but look at this Q+A

I can dispute these claims like you did, but the fact that at least one time I’ll get a judge that agrees with this and then my notebook is nullified.