Ohio 2016

Sciolapedia
Member
Member
Posts: 91
Joined: March 26th, 2013, 4:58 pm
Division: C
State: PA

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby Sciolapedia » April 11th, 2016, 4:34 pm

There is no doubt in my mind that Centerville knowingly and purposefully found a grey in the rules to exploit. A team of that magnitude, skill, and success not knowing what they're doing . . . come on. This is not the question at hand.

The real question is whether exploiting the system should be punished. People are bringing up the spirit of the competition rules and other moral stuff, but this does not make sense. How can you apply subjective rules to a subjective argument? This alone is not enough to indict Centerville. Playing dirty has and always will inflame those who abide by the rules in the "traditional" way, but that is the nature of life and cannot be punished. If we can punish Centerville for being in the gray area, why can't schools punish us for comparing notes before tests or using sparknotes?

In short, Mentor fell victim to chance and to the shrewdness of Centerville, which as much as you may argue against morally, can and never will be punished. That being said, Centerville, you guys are lucky. You better bring Ohio a national tournament trophy.

chalker
Member
Member
Posts: 2089
Joined: January 9th, 2009, 7:30 pm
Division: Grad
State: OH

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby chalker » April 11th, 2016, 5:33 pm

Unsurprisingly, my email and PM mailbox are filled with messages today, and again in the interest of maximum transparency, I'm going to try to respond to the comments since my post last night as well as the PMs here:
I would just like to say that I'm quite disturbed at the fact that teams were videotaping Centerville testing their EV near the competition. I honestly believe that those who were taping it were acting much more out of the spirit of the competition than those running the EV.
I have no evidence there was any videotaping done. While it has been mentioned here on the thread, we were only provided with a single photo and there was never any comment about additional photos / videos (nor were they requested as Centerville confirmed what they were doing). I'd also like to point out my strong belief that observing / taking pictures of other teams in public is NOT against the spirit of the competition. I've posted about this before here and encourage everyone to read it: http://scioly.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php? ... re#p287852 To summarize my thoughts: by trying to be all secretive about device designs at events that are open to the public, a disservice is being done to the mission of SO
On the subject of testing the EV, at nationals people test their vehicles the day before in the testing area almost every year (for example 2 years ago like 20 teams were testing scrambler and wheeled vehicle in the gym a day before the competition), which is definitely fair since all teams have an equal opportunity to test it there.
I've not personally witnessed this, so don't know whether or not it indeed happens at Nationals. However, one thing that was discussed while we were arbitrating in the intent of rule 4.f. My belief is a major aspect is that it would be impossible to allow all teams equal opportunities to test during the standard competition day, hence the prohibition against it. However all teams DO potentially have the opportunity to come to the site in the days/weeks prior to the competition and perform testing. Note that in some events like Wright Stuff, we DO generally allow for testing by all teams due to the typical space / resources involved.
I strongly disagree with "chalkers" response that "looking for a loophole" is within the spirit of SO. If there is loophole in the rules I believe that teams should be obligated to bring it up to the event director for clarification, not exploit it.
Much like reasonable people can disagree over the definition of 'cheating', I think there are different definitions of 'loopholes'. Time and time again we've had teams come up with something we didn't account for or consider in the rules (e.g. a 'loophole' by my definition). Sometimes they submit FAQs asking about them, other times they just show up at an Invitational or Regional with them (at which point it generally is out in the public). And I can assure you that time and time again, behind the scenes we have discussions about whether the 'loophole' violates the spirit of the event or is somehow ground-breakingly unfair. More times than not we decide NOT to issue a clarification or FAQ since we are trying to encourage innovation and creativity.
Was Centerville cheating by testing on site? IMHO, this clearly does not constitute cheating. If they were cheating does anyone here think that they would do it during the day when most of the students were visiting the event sites? Their intend certainly wasn't to cheat, IMHO.
This is an interesting point I hadn't considered before, but I think important. My view of whether something is cheating generally involves doing something in a discrete or surreptitious way to avoid being detected. That was clearly not the case here.
Integrity means doing the right thing when nobody else is watching. Let's think if Centerville was doing the right thing knowing that nobody was watching, up until they were caught (and on that note, everyone is lucky that their actions were photographed so it isn't a "he said, she said" type of matter and everyone making this decision knows exactly what Centerville was doing).
As I just noted, they weren't be secretive about this. They knew other people were watching. In the picture I have, there are 5 people, and I don't assume they all are from Centerville. They also never disputed the fact they were doing this. To the contrary, they fully explained it repeatedly.
I am waiting for a Centerville coach to stand up and say "You know, we did go outside the rules. It is time to give up and do the right thing." I am amazed that there is even an argument that Centerville did not cheat (see above).
The Centerville coaches strongly believe they did nothing wrong and within the letter and spirit of the rules. During the day they engaged us in serious, truthful, good-faith discussions about why they believe that. At no point did it seem they didn't believe they 'cheated'. And to reiterate, none of the 4 people involved in the arbitration felt this was an incident of 'cheating'. Here are some key quotes from their official appeal form:
"We were penalized for breaking rule 4f, which we did not. The kids were checking out their device in one of the hallways of the journalism building. It was a very bumpy bus ride and we did not have a smooth tile floor at our hotel. However they were NOT rolling the vehicle "on or adjacent to the track surface between the Starting and Target lines". These lines had not been placed yet, as the track had not been set up. The event was to take place in a classroom and the kids were checking their device around the corner and down the hall. The primary goal of this event is about braking distance and speed, which are ultimately controlled by programming and vehicle design."

"While the French Field House and Hitchcock Hall (for scrambler) had been identified as "off liimits" for device testing (via email and state website), no such designation had been made for the Journalism Building or Electric Vehicle prior to the text/email that was sent out to coaches at 1:51 PM Friday. As soon as the kids were made aware of inclusion of Electric Vehicle in the "off limits" rule, they packed up and left immediately."

"Testing, calibrating and modifying are the "spirit of the problem". We had no more knowledge of braking distance than any other team"

"If the intent was to keep kids from testing anywhere near the event sites, perhaps a more general "blanket statement" could be posted to that effect, rather than a few specific locations and events"
I don't see how anyone with either a logical head or a moral heart can side with Centerville, knowing the Code of Ethics that everyone agreed to prohibits that kind of behavior.
As has been conveyed publicly in this thread (and privately to me) there are a LOT of people who are 'siding' with Centerville on this. I can fully understand why people that are 'siding' with Mentor hold the views they do, and would like to encourage respectful debate instead of insinuations related to moral or intellectual character.
I am going to throw this out there, but do we know if they were doing it to find out the target distance? If that is the case, Centerville most certainly crossed the line and cheated. However, if they were only doing it to "warm up" for the competition, why are we disputing this? Have we not, at some time or another, tested our devices before impound to make sure nothing broke on the way to competition? If they were testing in another building to try it out on different surfaces, they could have been innocently checking that the car ran as intended on different floors. Tile has a different frictional constant than wood, which has a different frictional constant than concrete, which has a different frictional constant that vinyl, etc.
I can factually state that they were not doing this to find the target distance, nor was there any possible way they could have since the track hadn't been setup yet and they weren't practicing in a way that referenced anything related to the room the track was going to be setup in. See above for the reasons they claimed they were testing there.
But, I think everyone can determine that those students went to that building on Friday with the intent to bend the rules as much as possible to give them an unfair advantage, and I don't think that should be rewarded. I say this with respect towards everyone involved.
As I stated, we the arbitrators did feel they bent the rules a bit past the line, and we penalized them for that. It appears that the crux of the argument from most people that are upset is regarding the MAGNITUDE of the penalty we issued. As I stated early on in this discussion, it was somewhat arbitrarily set, but was mutually and uniformly agreed upon by 4 people. "Monday morning quarterbacking" isn't going to change the fact we made a reasonable decision based upon the appropriate information available to us. We all now have additional information regarding the fact that they qualified for Nationals that is completely inappropriate to bring into such a decision.
Wouldn't it just be logical to allow Mentor to go to Nationals as well as Solon and Centerville? I am pretty sure all of this arguing would not be occurring (for the most part) if Mentor was able to go.
Previously I provided an excerpt of the message I sent to the National Office, State Director and both Mentor and Centerville coaches. Here is the rest of that message which is relevant to this:
I spent an extensive amount of time going over in detail the situation with both coaches after the ceremony. Everyone is of course upset to varying degrees. I’m personally heartbroken that I caused the students involved to go through such an emotional rollercoaster. The Mentor coach, as is appropriate for a coach in this situation, asked about a variety of potential appeals or alternative resolutions that could be applied. I explained in detail what I know about the National Tournament invitation process and logistics and what has happened in other states in situations like this.

Some alternative resolutions he in particular mentioned were the possibility of a team from another state either declining their invitation or dropping out late in the process, and adding a 61st team in Division C. I promised him I would personally reach out to you to document what happened and advocate that if there is an extra spot at Nationals that somehow becomes available, that Mentor be given the opportunity to take it.
This is one thing on which an exception will most likely never be made:
1) Adding an extra team (especially this late in the season) would mess with scheduling and such at Nationals.
2) There's substantial precedent against this (see the state pages on the wiki for more info). The current system for allocating national bids has been in place for 30 years with (as far as I'm aware) no exceptions made.

I explained both of these issues to the Mentor coach at the ceremony, and told him I thought there was virtually no chance of getting a third spot, but that I would personally advocate for it (as you can see above). I really don't want anyone to get their hopes up, because at the end of the day the National Office has complete control over who they invite to the National Tournament and has a consistent policy they've applied in previous situations like this.

From various PMs:
The 1,000 point penalty should never have been assessed... period. By doing so is an error on the E/C... not the scorer.
This is fully my responsibility too. At some point during the day, when it was clear we weren't close to resolving the issue, I directed the Event Supervisor to submit his scores with the 1000 point penalty in place, since we knew that was the 'worst case' scenario. I knew that it'd be easy to 'reverse out' the 1000 point penalty once we came to a conclusion if needed, I just failed to do it. As an aside, the idea of issuing a complete DQ to Centerville never came up or even crossed my mind. Thus clearly none of us felt this was that egregious of an incident to warrant event considering it.
It seems there are a lot of discussions around intention...
The simplest measure of intention is how the students involved, when confronted, responded. It appears that, upon first and second questioning, they denied their actions. They only gave up the truth of the matter when pressed. This carries weight, as their intentions were not something they wanted to let known... and thus too, is a violation of ethics. There were less than forthright in their responses.
Centerville NEVER denied what they were doing that I am aware of. Their response was consistent to everyone that I've spoken to.
As I see it, the students violated the pledge of ethics that they all sign as participants in Science Olympiad. If I were their coach, I would have insisted that the penalty be a DQ or a tier, as I do not at all want anyone on my team to think that I would ever permit or condone such behavior. I have it on good authority that a number of the other head coaches have similar feelings.
I've personally heard from several other head coaches today that completely agree with what transpired and the nature of the penalty relative to the actions of the team. Obviously there is no clearer way to illustrate that this is a grey area with no objective, right solution to it.
for future events, guidelines surrounding arbitration and severity of infractions (and associated penalties) could be published to reduce the chances of a similar situation happening in the future.
This is definitely a good suggestion and something I know was already underway at a National level (which I'm involved with). I won't jump the gun and say they are finalized, but I can share that there are active discussions about updating some of the language in the guidelines. And my belief is they are going further emphasize the desire to apply the least restrictive penalty possible. There's definitely a perception by several people (including myself) that some supervisors and directors are sometimes too quick to jump to trying to disqualify competitors.
I can say with certainty that the Mentor team spirit has been crushed with this apparent decision on your part. As well, it has the potential to impact not just the current team but the future student participants and even the wanna-be's, as word about this situation has reached deeply into the community. I heard it from people who know that I am a former coach, each asking me for an opinion. Many are saying "this should never have happened."
As I've repeatedly said, at the end of the day the reporting situation is my fault alone. If I hadn't made the error regarding scoring the penalty, Mentor would have never been announced as 2nd place and it's very unlikely we'd be having this passionate discussion. As someone who is extremely passionate about SO and has given in countless ways to the organization, this situation breaks my heart. I hope by being open and transparent about this the students that were impacted will be able to find some solace and closure in it, and realize that sometime mistakes happen despite the best intentions.

I also want to emphasize that the decisions regarding the penalty that was applied to Centerville was not 'my decision'. There were 4 people intimately and actively involved, each of which has their own background and opinions. It was very much a democratic effort amongst all us, with no-ones vote or input counting more than others.

Student Alumni
National Event Supervisor
National Physical Sciences Rules Committee Chair

trailing12
Member
Member
Posts: 3
Joined: April 11th, 2016, 4:34 pm

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby trailing12 » April 11th, 2016, 5:38 pm

I for one am sickened over this whole thing. I think the real question should be (and I feel qualified to have an opinion as I am a Mentor parent) "How can we make sure such a heart wrenching, careless mistake, never ever happens again at any invitational, let alone states?" I am so very, very sad for these Mentor kids that we are even in this situation. Why are they being made to feel they need to defend anything? They worked as hard as anyone there and were made to believe they did it!

We watched them cheer and celebrate in tears with teammates, friends and family only to have that joy ripped away! and why? because you said they won and then changed your mind! They were so close they held the second place trophy in their hands, dancing and taking photos only to listen in heartbreak to a grown woman yelling that their team "DID NOT EARN THE SECOND PLACE TROPHY!" They eventually left believing they still won, having one more go at the big show! And because of that we didn't hug our child and his friends and tell them it was alright and that we were beyond proud no matter what. That they worked incredibly hard and came so close. The lesson in acceptance was lost. The opportunities to thank to coaches and wish farewell to seniors gone forever. We can never get that back and I'm so hurt and disappointed for these kids who lived for Science Olympiad for all these years. So, while you worry yourselves over the fact that you dare not let more than two teams from Ohio go to Nationals, try to find it within yourselves to put policies in place that guard against this hurt in the future. I truly know this error was not made on purpose. But just like you are so very sure the penalty for doing something questionable at states is only five points, be very sure that Centerville has the right scores in the future because if not, another innocent school will suffer.

Apple_Nut
Member
Member
Posts: 17
Joined: April 7th, 2012, 10:07 am
Division: C
State: PA

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby Apple_Nut » April 11th, 2016, 5:51 pm

I would mainly like to address this to chalker but for anyone who has insight please feel free to chime in. I feel terrible for all the students and parents involved especially at Mentor. Out of curiosity I wanted to ask if the national team limit for Ohio could theoretically be raised by the national coordinator given the situation. I feel as though if there was ever a time to raise that limit, now would be that time.
[b][u]Regionals 2016[/u][/b]
Electric Vehicle: 2nd
Game On: 1st
Wind Power: 1st
Wright Stuff: 1st

[b]Team: 1st[/b]

[u][b]States 2016[/b][/u]
Electric Vehicle: 1st
Wind Power: 8th

[b]Team: 7th[/b]
Regionals 2017
Electric Vehicle: 4th
Wind Power: 1st
Remote Sensing: 3rd
Robot Arm: 7th

Team: 1st

User avatar
Unome
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 4107
Joined: January 26th, 2014, 12:48 pm
Division: Grad
State: GA
Location: somewhere in the sciolyverse

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby Unome » April 11th, 2016, 5:59 pm

I for one am sickened over this whole thing. I think the real question should be (and I feel qualified to have an opinion as I am a Mentor parent) "How can we make sure such a heart wrenching, careless mistake, never ever happens again at any invitational, let alone states?" I am so very, very sad for these Mentor kids that we are even in this situation. Why are they being made to feel they need to defend anything? They worked as hard as anyone there and were made to believe they did it!

We watched them cheer and celebrate in tears with teammates, friends and family only to have that joy ripped away! and why? because you said they won and then changed your mind! They were so close they held the second place trophy in their hands, dancing and taking photos only to listen in heartbreak to a grown woman yelling that their team "DID NOT EARN THE SECOND PLACE TROPHY!" They eventually left believing they still won, having one more go at the big show! And because of that we didn't hug our child and his friends and tell them it was alright and that we were beyond proud no matter what. That they worked incredibly hard and came so close. The lesson in acceptance was lost. The opportunities to thank to coaches and wish farewell to seniors gone forever. We can never get that back and I'm so hurt and disappointed for these kids who lived for Science Olympiad for all these years. So, while you worry yourselves over the fact that you dare not let more than two teams from Ohio go to Nationals, try to find it within yourselves to put policies in place that guard against this hurt in the future. I truly know this error was not made on purpose. But just like you are so very sure the penalty for doing something questionable at states is only five points, be very sure that Centerville has the right scores in the future because if not, another innocent school will suffer.
Specifically responding to what you're saying about policies to prevent scoring errors, chalker already has an extensive amount of these, an overview of which can be downloaded here (the SO Scoring Guidelines PDF).
Userpage
Chattahoochee High School Class of 2018
Georgia Tech Class of 2022

Opinions expressed on this site are not official; the only place for official rules changes and FAQs is soinc.org.

meteorology125
Member
Member
Posts: 31
Joined: February 1st, 2014, 5:18 pm
Division: C
State: OH

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby meteorology125 » April 11th, 2016, 6:02 pm

I would mainly like to address this to chalker but for anyone who has insight please feel free to chime in. I feel terrible for all the students and parents involved especially at Mentor. Out of curiosity I wanted to ask if the national team limit for Ohio could theoretically be raised by the national coordinator given the situation. I feel as though if there was ever a time to raise that limit, now would be that time.
While raising the team limit for Ohio seems to be a good idea, it also brings up the question whether Tower Heights in division B should be allowed to go in that case. They were third by a closer margin than Mentor. Also, Westlake was third last year by one point, but no exception was made for them. It is very unlikely that the national committee will make an exception now considering this is how it's been for many years. At this point, it has been decided that Centerville is going to nationals and that will not change. I believe that the decision was well thought out and fair and it is no use further discussing it.
2015 Events: Anatomy and Physiology, Crave the Wave, Entomology, Meteorology, Picture This, Road Scholar, and Simple Machines

User avatar
samlan16
Member
Member
Posts: 523
Joined: December 30th, 2013, 2:54 pm
Division: Grad
State: TN
Contact:

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby samlan16 » April 11th, 2016, 6:10 pm

I would mainly like to address this to chalker but for anyone who has insight please feel free to chime in. I feel terrible for all the students and parents involved especially at Mentor. Out of curiosity I wanted to ask if the national team limit for Ohio could theoretically be raised by the national coordinator given the situation. I feel as though if there was ever a time to raise that limit, now would be that time.
They would likely have to cut a team from another state to accommodate a third Ohio team.
Remember, we are proud of every team that participated and you are all winners.

[noy_tou]
Member
Member
Posts: 5
Joined: April 10th, 2016, 5:38 pm

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby [noy_tou] » April 11th, 2016, 6:12 pm

Formercoach wrote:
As I see it, the students violated the pledge of ethics that they all sign as participants in Science Olympiad. If I were their coach, I would have insisted that the penalty be a DQ or a tier, as I do not at all want anyone on my team to think that I would ever permit or condone such behavior. I have it on good authority that a number of the other head coaches have similar feelings.

I think this is the point that I am trying to get at. I simply can't understand how their actions can be rewarded, because that makes absolutely no sense to me.
Chalker mentioned that they were down the hall and around the corner from the room, so I think that shows they didn't want to be seen when people were going around to the different buildings to find their location.
I also understand that they weren't testing braking distance, because nobody had that opportunity. However, friction on that specific floor has a huge impact on what they were testing, and they clearly went into that building to gain that advantage. They point out rule 4f, "on or adjacent to the track surface". The track surface was the same where they were testing it. I am confused why that part of the question is up for debate there. However, I pointed out a few times that even if there is a debate whether or not their actions qualify as cheating, I still do not think those students aligned with the Code of Ethics they agreed to. I realize that the "spirit of the competition" is not defined, and maybe the Centerville coaches are correct that testing, calibrating, and modifying vehicles is a part of that. However, I hope that, for the sake of all past, present, and future competitors, that the spirit of the Science Olympiad program means a little bit more than that. I hope that everybody hold the spirit of competition to be one of respect, honesty, kindness, and fairness, rather than testing, calibrating, and modifying.
And, I would like to add that any part of this comment, my past comments, or any possible future comments that seem derogatory or disrespectful is not written with that intent. I am commenting solely for the purpose of promoting honest and clean debate, not anything to drag others down. Perhaps in the heat of my comment typing my message came off more malicious than I intended it to be, and I fully apologize for any confusion or harm that may have caused.

Private Wang Fire
Member
Member
Posts: 100
Joined: June 1st, 2015, 3:43 pm
Division: Grad
State: OH

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby Private Wang Fire » April 11th, 2016, 6:15 pm

I would mainly like to address this to chalker but for anyone who has insight please feel free to chime in. I feel terrible for all the students and parents involved especially at Mentor. Out of curiosity I wanted to ask if the national team limit for Ohio could theoretically be raised by the national coordinator given the situation. I feel as though if there was ever a time to raise that limit, now would be that time.
While raising the team limit for Ohio seems to be a good idea, it also brings up the question whether Tower Heights in division B should be allowed to go in that case. They were third by a closer margin than Mentor. Also, Westlake was third last year by one point, but no exception was made for them. It is very unlikely that the national committee will make an exception now considering this is how it's been for many years. At this point, it has been decided that Centerville is going to nationals and that will not change. I believe that the decision was well thought out and fair and it is no use further discussing it.

Coming from a school in Ohio that falls short at state every year, raising the limit to 3 teams sounds appealing - the discussion was had last year after Westlake lost by a point as well. But IMO it doesn't make sense to make an exception now, after all this time, despite the extraordinary circumstances. Mentor got played hardcore though, what an awful way to cap off a season.
MASON HIGH SCHOOL '18

Private Wang Fire
Member
Member
Posts: 100
Joined: June 1st, 2015, 3:43 pm
Division: Grad
State: OH

Re: Ohio 2016

Postby Private Wang Fire » April 11th, 2016, 6:24 pm

Formercoach wrote:
As I see it, the students violated the pledge of ethics that they all sign as participants in Science Olympiad. If I were their coach, I would have insisted that the penalty be a DQ or a tier, as I do not at all want anyone on my team to think that I would ever permit or condone such behavior. I have it on good authority that a number of the other head coaches have similar feelings.

I think this is the point that I am trying to get at. I simply can't understand how their actions can be rewarded, because that makes absolutely no sense to me.
Chalker mentioned that they were down the hall and around the corner from the room, so I think that shows they didn't want to be seen when people were going around to the different buildings to find their location.
I also understand that they weren't testing braking distance, because nobody had that opportunity. However, friction on that specific floor has a huge impact on what they were testing, and they clearly went into that building to gain that advantage. They point out rule 4f, "on or adjacent to the track surface". The track surface was the same where they were testing it. I am confused why that part of the question is up for debate there. However, I pointed out a few times that even if there is a debate whether or not their actions qualify as cheating, I still do not think those students aligned with the Code of Ethics they agreed to. I realize that the "spirit of the competition" is not defined, and maybe the Centerville coaches are correct that testing, calibrating, and modifying vehicles is a part of that. However, I hope that, for the sake of all past, present, and future competitors, that the spirit of the Science Olympiad program means a little bit more than that. I hope that everybody hold the spirit of competition to be one of respect, honesty, kindness, and fairness, rather than testing, calibrating, and modifying.
And, I would like to add that any part of this comment, my past comments, or any possible future comments that seem derogatory or disrespectful is not written with that intent. I am commenting solely for the purpose of promoting honest and clean debate, not anything to drag others down. Perhaps in the heat of my comment typing my message came off more malicious than I intended it to be, and I fully apologize for any confusion or harm that may have caused.
While it's valid argument that they did go into the building to gain an advantage, I don't really see how rule 4f clearly bans them from trying to calibrate on the same surface of competition. Moreover, in previous years vehicle events like Scrambler or even events this year, the state tournament people have sent out a message clearly saying that people couldn't test in the same building before competition, but that wasn't a thing for EV until after Centerville was found. With these factors in mind, combined with the fact that as you mentioned, friction and braking distance (which you can still test for without knowing the actual distance), are critically important for some EV designs, so it was a logically choice to go test Friday night especially considering that they were never specifically prohibited.

However, I do feel that a 5 point penalty is rather light - it accounts for what I feel is around the minimum drop in placings that would've happened had they not been able to test the night before. But without specific details on their vehicle that's all speculation.
MASON HIGH SCHOOL '18


Return to “2016 Invitationals, Regionals, and States”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest