Notes from the First Weekend of Tournaments

We had 8 FLL regional tournaments in Virginia our first weekend, and it looks like teams had a great time. I know that the referees were impressed at all the creative solutions teams found to accomplish their selected missions, and I’ve heard good things from the judges too. I hope that the week 1 activity during core values judging helped to raise everyone’s expectations!

There a few things that surprised some teams at the robot game tables, that I would like to give teams a heads-up about.

First a reminder–don’t trust any pictures or video unless the text of the Robot Game agrees with them. According to Rule 5:

“When there is conflict between pictures/videos and text, the text takes precedence!”

1) Engagement mission setup

According to the Field Setup, and Game Update 5, the engagement pinwheel setup is with its red arm up. (That means that the main body of the arm points straight up.) Both pictures on pages 10 and 29 are incorrect.

2) Bouncing the Sports Ball

Teams at several tournaments discovered that the blue ball may not bounce the same on competition or practice tables as it does on the table that they practiced on. I know that at some tournaments, there was a mixture of behaviors among both the competition and practice tables. We’re sorry about this unexpected behavior, but it is covered by Rule 4, Variability, and no team will know what to expect until they get to the table.

3) Ramming the Door

As described in the mission and rules, the team doesn’t get points for opening the door by ramming it and breaking it. You must push down on the handle to allow the door to open.

4) Loop in the Senses mission

Update 32 was a little too subtle about the loop in the Using the Right Senses mission. The mission requirement is that the loop is “released” only by pushing the slider. The update says not to expect the the loop will be “ejected” by using the slider. The update is also trying to say that “release” means “to allow to be moved or taken”, so, once your robot pushes the slider to lift the weight out of the way, the robot is allowed to remove the loop from the model.

5) Reverse Engineering–making the original model during setup

Your team is required to build an original model out of all 6 pieces when they get to the table, even if they don’t plan to do the Reverse Engineering. See the Field Setup, and Updates 14 and 24. The two Robot Handlers are the only ones allowed to build the model. Being prepared for this is part of being a Gracious Professional.

6) Apprenticeship–try it out!

If your team isn’t doing the Apprenticeship mission, they really should take a look at Update 7.

7) Apprenticeship People

As discussed earlier today, your team is required to use the people at the table in order to score full points on the Apprenticeship mission.

8) Kidnapping

Please be careful, both at the competition tables and the practice tables, that you don’t take any mission models, such as the people or the blue ball. If you discover them, take them back immediately. Removing them hurts other teams, and thus is against Gracious Professionalism.

You shouldn’t bring the Apprenticeship people from your practice kit, and you should avoid bringing any blue balls, if at all possible. Tournament volunteers will think that they belong to the tournament kits, and will ask you to hand them over.

Best wishes to all FLL teams in the upcoming weeks!

Steve Scherr
Virginia-DC FLL Referee Advisor

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