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log: comments received after tournament

The judges and others were asked for their comments about how things went. This is an attempt to capture the comments.
From: on behalf of Glenn Trewitt [glenn@trewitt. org]
Sent: Sunday, November 20, 2005 11:43 PM
Subject: Re: Thank You Judges

My main problem was that 10 minutes very short, and there wasn't any time between slots to talk and decide scores before the next team was upon us. This improved in the second half, when Eitan held off the next team until we were finished scoring. Ideally, I think that we should get something like 10 minutes with the team, and then 2 minutes to talk and score.

It was fun, but a little too much like running a race. And, yes, I'd do it again.

   - Glenn

From: Edmond Macaluso []
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2005 12:28 AM
Subject: Re: Thank You Judges

One comment that my wife suggested is that we have a brief template for the presentors
who will be announcing the awards.  I believe she said something like:

1.  Talk about the award, why it is given, etc
2.  Talk about why the runner-up got the award
3.  Announce the runner-up
4.  Talk about why the winner got the award
5.  Announce the winner

It's not a big deal, but some of the presentors at the North tournament left out some of these steps,
and at times it was confusing. 

Eitan himself made a great presentation, talking about the awards overall and his experience with
professional robotics projects vs FLL.  My wife enjoyed was impressed with his talk.


From: Scott D. Thomas []
Sent: Sunday, November 20, 2005 8:56 PM
Subject: RE: Programming Judging



One thought is that I had no prior experience with Lego Mindstorm or the other one (can’t recall the name right this minute), and it might have been useful to have had some experience with one of them…  In fact, is there a way I can get a manual or a working copy for a little while?  I would study it a little with an eye toward the next competition.  Also, I didn’t have enough time to really internalize the suggestions in the rubric… we just picked a few ideas and tried to be even handed.


Gideon and I were a little baffled about how to recognize whether a participant was using a “subroutine” because the building blocks didn’t seem to support that.  We asked this because of what we saw in the rubric.  (In one case, I recall asking a kid whether he used a subroutine and him replying, “I don’t know what that is!” and then I said, “neither do we!” and then I noticed Mom’s video camera capturing every gesture!  But it was true.)  I don’t think anyone we asked had actually heard of the idea of a subroutine or why one might be advantageous.  I should think that if anyone had read through the documentation and if the concept had been introduced there, then at least one kid would have said the word “subroutine” or “function” when asked about it.  So what I mean is, I can’t tell whether Mindstorm (or the other one) even supports such a concept, or whether it just stops at the notion of a myblock.


Toward the end of our allotted time, we were thinking that a “myblock” with a passed-in variable might be considered a subroutine.  On the other hand, one of the teams used myblocks as templates which they copied and then customized (hard wired with different values, I gather).  That seemed like a good idea from an ease of programming point of view, but I should think that one advantage of a subroutine would be to conserve memory on the rcx. 


However, another thing I don’t have a grasp on is how anyone could possibly run out of memory, with it being so cheap these days.  Also I should think that the CPU would be fast enough to forgive any clumsy programming technique.  Is that the case?  If so, then the emphasis would be on the human element, saving labor time.  At that point, when not limited by the hardware, elegant programming ideas might appear particularly brilliant.


One of the teams indicated that they were able to make the rcx beep a sequence of one or two tones, and I have no idea what kind of resources that might use up, or whether to consider it a smart thing to do.  Does everyone do that?


The other thing is that in that small room, with the P.A. system going, as we were pit diving, it was kind of hard, but not impossible, to hear the kids.  This also affected the two “at large” judges, not just Gideon and me, evaluating programming.  I think we were still able to be effective, however, don’t get me wrong.  When we brought this up with you, toward the end of the day, we tossed around the idea of having the pits (kids and laptops) move to another location to be interviewed, however, in retrospect, I think that would be disruptive to the teams, and the smart thing to do would be to keep the pits by the competition, not force them to move around, but make the pits more interview friendly.  More distance?   Acoustic baffles?  I don’t know.  I do know you just have to go with what you’ve got.  One of the other judges indicated to me that last year the competition was in a gymnasium that was larger and so the PA system was not such a big deal.


Finally, nobody really explained the awards to me, or I didn’t read about the process if it was out there somewhere.  I was a little surprised to see “programming” being a category for receiving a certificate.  Well, that’s nice, I just wasn’t expecting it.


The Oak school certainly was a beautiful place, and what a lovely day to have the competition, warm and clear.  It was fun and I enjoyed it.  Thanks!

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