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

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  • #16
    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.
    Last edited by driveguy; 02-13-2018, 08:51 AM.

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    • #17
      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. 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.
      Last edited by mlonsinger; 02-13-2018, 09:32 AM.

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      • #18
        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.
        Last edited by driveguy; 02-13-2018, 10:21 AM.

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        • #19
          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!
          Last edited by mlonsinger; 02-13-2018, 10:26 AM.

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          • #20
            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!!
            Last edited by Foster; 02-13-2018, 01:28 PM.

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            • #21
              While the topics could stand alone, again the issue I'm seeing all goes back to adult built robots. In my opinion, while it appears to be two topics, I'm talking about the same thing. It is my opinion if the robots weren't adult built the school wouldn't win 5 for 5 at double the score of their closest opponents...but since they are adult built and since the consensus is from experienced mentors here that it's ok if they are adult built then the next best thing to make this educational AND enjoyable for the students is to make the adult built robot effect have a minimal impact as possible. That's all I'm suggesting.

              That said, post-season, I will be reaching out to Dan to discuss this issue and what should or can be done. I am all about providing real solutions to problems vs. just complaining. I'd rather solve problems than complain any day...one reason I'm an engineer.

              As far as going to the EP Summit physically or remotely, I didn't know such a thing existed, but will definitely look into it, especially if it is in Louisville again this year. That said, I'm not an EP, but I have helped run an event for the last two seasons, and will be stepping up to have a more active role to assist the lead of that event in this next year.

              Good luck to all.

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              • #22
                We are back on the cusp, is what I do a "dad-built" or "foster mentored". Mentoring is what you want, just extend it to other teams.

                Your idea to reach out to dan t the EP summit is good. Remember these are staged events, get your vote heard before the pomp starts.

                Foster

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                • #23
                  Some of you on this forum have known me for a long time. Some of you I have only met via e-mail and the forums. Some of you don't know me at all. I can tell you that this topic is very important to me. Next to the more general, "tolerate zero cheating" this is my #1 item to FIX in the VEX Programs. The reason we created the VEX IQ Challenge is that I was sick and tired of the engineer parent built robots and the fact that the robot as the central inspiration and learning tool was becoming unimportant.

                  If all of our coaches and parents were as reasonable as those of you participating on this forum, then this just simply would not be a topic of discussion. Unfortunately, not all people participating in this program share our beliefs.

                  I know this may come off as arrogant, but I KNOW when a robot is not built, and more importantly, programmed by an elementary or middle school student. This comes from a 5 minute, or less, conversation with the students. I have been designing and building competitive robots since 2000 and when I looked at some of the VEX IQ robots from the last few VEX Worlds I said to myself, "man, I want to shake that engineer's (parent, whatever) hand on a job well done" because I knew I would have a very hard time designing and building a robot with that level of performance.

                  Enforcing this is tough. Very tough. But we will figure it out. It will not stop the GDC from stating unacceptable behavior in our manuals. Why? Because when we do catch cheaters, then we will act swiftly and harshly. Their win at all costs is only matched in intensity by my "catch all cheaters at all costs" attitude. Trying to accomplish this without creating a witch hunt mentality will require tenacity, training, and expectation setting.

                  From a very top level, it is the following principles we are trying to instill:

                  1. Building and programming these robots by adults is unacceptable.

                  2. Adults sitting with the students and showing them how to program and teaching them the basic fundamentals of mechanisms, or loops, or "go straight code" is ok. Teaching a student about a double reverse 4 bar is OK. Showing them how a slide drive works is OK. Building a drive base for them and saying, "here, use this" is not OK.

                  3. Sitting down with Modkit or ROBOTC and programming without students so you can LEARN the language and the tools is ok, but NONE of this code should even be saved to be used on the competing robot.

                  4. At a competition, students do everything. Period. (ok, there are exceptions with regards to students asking for help to get a battery out or a pin out, etc.). If you have "Foster mentored" them, then they will be well prepared for this requirement.

                  5. We know there gray areas. The bottom line is if I can pull a student to the side and ask them to explain their robot or how something works, then they should be able to do it.

                  6. Teams that are scoring standard deviations higher than the norm will get extra scrutiny.

                  7. Teams that have nearly identical robots or programs will get extra scrutiny.

                  6 and 7 don't mean they will get DQed or anything like that. It does mean that they better be prepared for questions regarding functions in their program and they may be asked to write a simple program.

                  The GDC will be formalizing this for the 2018 and 2019 season to make sure our EPs have well though out guidance and that some of our more aggressive EPs don't go overboard to ruin the experience for the majority.

                  One last thing: I have an 8th grade son who has a VEX IQ team. Yes they qualified for VEX Worlds. They qualified by winning STEM Research. Their robot is in the middle of the pack for VEX Worlds ... maybe. I taught the programmer (a 7th grader) how to program in Modkit. I taught him about go straight code. He wrote everything himself. I haven't helped the team since December (Foster knows why). We worked on his program 5 straight days during Spring Break at his house and told me he achieved my goal for him. I haven't seen it. Why am I telling you this? I am in your shoes. I see things I just don't like and bring them back to my team. I encourage you to give us suggestions via these forums. We listen. We may not agree, but we listen.

                  The bright side is 95%+ of our community gets it. We have to make sure the small % don;t ruin it for the rest of us.

                  If you are going to VEX Worlds, I encourage you to attend the sessions that Dan and I are hosting. They are wide open and no question is off limits.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by driveguy View Post
                    While the topics could stand alone, again the issue I'm seeing all goes back to adult built robots. In my opinion, while it appears to be two topics, I'm talking about the same thing. It is my opinion if the robots weren't adult built the school wouldn't win 5 for 5 at double the score of their closest opponents...but since they are adult built and since the consensus is from experienced mentors here that it's ok if they are adult built
                    driveguy This is a misnomer. In our first year in IQ (bank shot) our kids went undefeated at 5 tournaments and then won FL State. As 4th graders they were top against Elem and MS all year through to the State competition. No, we weren't scoring 2x, but were doing quite well. Some teams got upset with us, one 8th grade boy even yelled at my daughter after they won and physically confronted her until I stepped in. I get pretty tired of all of that garbage. Yes, they won State as well, and did the year after too, and State Skills, and State STEM.... However, they did it on their own, it was not adult built.

                    Their first robot that went undefeated because it was simple. It was a scoop that never even went for the "high scoring goal", just low goals consistently. Which made programming/driving for them easy and simplistic, no sensors yet.

                    The next year they tried a few different things and ended up picking up off the fence and dropping 8 scores total plus the ramp (middle of the road score, but consistent). Again, simple programming, time/distance based (has it's challenges) no sensors yet in 5th grade, but worked. Won most tournaments, won State.

                    This year, again, they used a simple modified clawbot. But with sensors to learn about line detection and gyro (they were ready). It's 6th grade and they get it, they wrote all of the code and built all of the robot. The difference was that they focused on skills only, not tournament wins. This worked for them. They were in the World Skills top 25 all year until the very end, they ended up 28th. Won Skills and Amaze at State, it was all theirs.

                    For those that are not able to win the awards yet at their competitions, focus on skills. Duplicate invites move to the State skills list for State invites. At least that is how it is supposed to be, but they messed that up this year in FL for VRC (and IQ too I think).

                    We have the same problem in VRC, we constantly hear that the robots were built by me, the mentor. I haven't touched a robot or code in years. I mentored them, they learned it. It really bugs me because these kids never seem to get the credit they earned. Their club has had undefeated teams in their qualifying rounds at Worlds for the past two years. Yes, they generally do quite well at their competition, yes some teams in our state get pretty irritated even though we implement team rules to help spread around the winning amongst opposing teams. People seem to forget that many of these teams (including ours) started with a clawbot and were crushed for years while they learned.

                    However, I have been through a similar thought process as yours. When we go to Worlds and see IQ robots that the kids can't even carry it brings up questions in my mind. But, I'm not in their shoes, I have no idea what they went through or who did what. But our Worlds experience was negative enough last year that we decided to skip this year and save some money for new equipment.

                    What I would say to solve this is "ask them". I really think it is that simple. If kids are up for an award, the judges should have a simple Q&A sheet for each programming language and they should ask the kids those questions. Same for mechanical (although that seems more obvious). For the higher ranking teams, pull them aside and make them walk through a clawbot programming setup on the PC (this is done at worlds). My point is, I don't care how they learned it, just check and see if they really did.

                    On the other side of that, I wish REC would stop asking every kid to know everything. Many of my kids are musicians, they understand what a band is, they understand that 5 guitars don't make a band, neither does 5 drummers. It takes balance, different instruments, and different talents. Don't ding a team because not everyone knows what a while() loop is. There is no issue giving everyone a shot at all disciplines and then placing them in their best fit. Don't pigeon hole them from season to season, but the team needs to be a band.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by TriDragon View Post

                      driveguy
                      On the other side of that, I wish REC would stop asking every kid to know everything. Many of my kids are musicians, they understand what a band is, they understand that 5 guitars don't make a band, neither does 5 drummers. It takes balance, different instruments, and different talents. Don't ding a team because not everyone knows what a while() loop is. There is no issue giving everyone a shot at all disciplines and then placing them in their best fit. Don't pigeon hole them from season to season, but the team needs to be a band.
                      I take exception to this. That is not what the REC Foundation or the GDC is going for. However, I don't think it is too much to ask that three isn't one programmer for 6 teams. Asking for 1 programmer per team is not unreasonable.


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                      • #26
                        Paul Copioli Thank you for the response. It may not be what REC or GDC is striving for but it is what they have. I don't want to hijack this thread but I will say that the judges and refs in many tournaments (IQ and VRC), including Worlds, have a mind of their own. Regardless of what is written down or in the official rules thread, they seem to just make stuff up (training problem) or, at times, judge to benefit their local teams. It's not conjecture, it's fact. Our teams have been marked down for the "not everyone knew everything" during judging. Of course, more related to this thread, we were also refused judging at two different tournaments because the judges felt we had "won" too much and they wouldn't look at our notebook.

                        With respect to one programmer per team. My understanding, as it stands now, is that only drivers define a team (can only be on one team at a tournament) according to the REC rules.

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                        • #27
                          Actually having one or two students do a raft of robots is possible. We are incorporating the students from the "Code Clubs" in the schools. They love to code, building robots not so much. So I have them work with teams on custom / improved driver programming (like making the sideways of the H drive work by moving either joystick side to side) or working on an autonomous. I have two reasons
                          1) I'd like to flip them from just programming to doing both
                          2) Getting the roboteers that "I just want to build and drive" to think about the coding part by seeing what cool things the code guy comes up with (We will be calling them Technomages next year to give them some additional street cred *)

                          Because they split their time across some robots, they are always busy.

                          So I'm good with some specialization. It's like me and machining. Give me access to your Bridgeport Milling machine and I'll turn it into 7,000 pounds of smoldering metal. Give me access to your robot code, I'll make the robot dance.

                          Thanks!

                          (* Why yes, the Technomages are from Babalon 5 " using science to create the appearance of magic". )
                          Last edited by Foster; 03-24-2018, 02:22 PM.

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                          • #28
                            ‚ÄčFoster and TriDragon we will be significantly clarifying what MUST be done in the manuals and still give coaches flexibility. We have gained a lot of experience in the last two years with regards to VEX IQ on what I will call "unexpected" bad behavior and how our rules (or lack thereof) actually encourage this behavior. We believe that having one programmer for 4 teams is just as bad as 1 driver for 4 teams. We believe that having one builder for 4 teams is just as bad as 1 driver for 4 teams. We will not require "everyone to know everything", but we will require that a roboteer should be part of one team and only one team. This is fundamental if we want MORE students to be exposed to technical things.

                            With that said, we do need to do a better job of providing building blocks that every team can start with. We took a first step with the purpose built robots Slick and Stretch, but will up our game with code examples and mechanism examples.

                            With regards to team members, we think robotics should be no different than school sports. If you are a football player (or soccer, softball, etc.) for one high school, then you can not play for another school. Seems pretty obvious that this is the way it should be done so we will require it. The only extension we are going to make is that if your school has multiple teams, then those students must only work on that team's robot.

                            Getting this correct is fundamental to the success of the program, in my opinion.

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                            • #29
                              Paul Copioli -- I agree "people are why we can't have nice things" is my mantra. I'd like the "clarification team" to be aware that:

                              1) It's not one size fits all -- I'm in a 5th grade version of Groundhog Day. Every year it's a new crop of builders and drivers. So pulling the ability to leverage programming resources may make it so some teams don't get programming help.

                              2) I'm into MORE students to be exposed to technical things, I started ~250 new students this year. You are now talking breadth vs depth. You need to decide what dragons you want to slay first.

                              3) You are on a slippery slope with teams. If each of my robot team (4 roboteers, a brain, a controller and a bunch of plastic and motors) is considered a standalone entity, then I want the nonsense about "you can't bring more than 20% of your organization to an event" to be removed. If all the teams are complete units, why can't they compete.

                              I really think the disconnect is between people that want to go to and win Worlds and all costs and people on the other end (like me) trying to inspire as many roboteers as possible. Good luck on that balance act. I'm always happy to proof read draft documents....
                              Last edited by Foster; 03-27-2018, 01:30 AM. Reason: Missing words...

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                              • #30
                                Paul Copioli I somewhat checked out of the forum and this post since my last comment. Checked back today to see if there were any more commentary. I really appreciate your thoughts in your post from 03-22-2018, 10:56 AM. That gives me hope. I sat down today with a teacher who is 2 years into a new Vex IQ program, and will be starting a new program at a new school opening next year. One of the things on my list that we discussed was setting clear expectations for mentors and the students so we know exactly where we stand...which will carry over into any competition we hold. Paul, thanks again for the attention and thought you and Dan have planned for leveling this for us. I sincerely appreciate your thoughts you've conveyed.

                                Question where are the sessions you mention and how do we see a schedule and/or agenda? Forgive me if I should already know this or it is readily available. "If you are going to VEX Worlds, I encourage you to attend the sessions that Dan and I are hosting."
                                Last edited by driveguy; 04-12-2018, 08:04 AM.

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