Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

User avatar
bernard
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 2248
Joined: January 5th, 2014, 3:12 pm
Division: Grad
State: WA
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Has thanked: 137 times
Been thanked: 608 times
Contact:

Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by bernard » August 17th, 2020, 12:09 am

Last edited by bernard on August 17th, 2020, 12:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
"One of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there."
Rate my tests!

User avatar
SilverBreeze
Exalted Member
Exalted Member
Posts: 298
Joined: November 28th, 2019, 3:42 pm
Division: C
State: CA
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Has thanked: 143 times
Been thanked: 258 times

Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by SilverBreeze » December 7th, 2020, 9:16 am

I don't really have an opinion on whether SciOly should try to have little parts of other common extracurriculars like robotics or compsci, but I think if it does try to do that, the events need to be affordable enough to create a functional build on a tight budget (doesn't need to win nats or anything, just something feasible instead of a shoebox). I don't mind it as a trial where you can just opt out, but when it does count in any way (even with a drop), it unfairly benefits affluent teams (versus poorer teams that are forced to do cheaper events instead of getting a high placement just for making a functional robot). Builders can probably give more feedback on this.

I think some people have been advocating having Robot Tour rotate in as a national event, and I personally hope that doesn't happen. The amount of interest it would garner and the level of learning it would encourage is not enough to counter the significant performance divide it would cause due to financial inequality. I don't think SciOly can be made perfectly fair, but we can try to create a balance, and I don't think the tradeoff is worth it with Robot Tour.

A lot of this is that, with developing technologies, we're already seeing a divide on access based on income. We can't change that divide any time soon. We're just deciding where we want to operate within that imbalance.
These users thanked the author SilverBreeze for the post (total 4):
sciolyperson1 (December 7th, 2020, 9:30 pm) • Booknerd (December 12th, 2020, 9:05 pm) • HugoTroop (December 26th, 2020, 3:44 pm) • samy-oak-tree (December 26th, 2020, 8:16 pm)
Troy SciOly 2019 - now
Suzanne SciOly 2016 - 2019
Events this season: Water Quality, Forensics, Ornithology, (some experience in DP)

The team may be gone, but the program lives on...

User avatar
BennyTheJett
Exalted Member
Exalted Member
Posts: 391
Joined: February 21st, 2019, 2:05 pm
Division: C
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Has thanked: 83 times
Been thanked: 172 times

Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by BennyTheJett » December 7th, 2020, 9:26 am

I agree with everything Silverbreeze says, and I would like to throw in that I see a potential alternative event in Mechatronics, where people work with Arduinos and the cost us removed. This removes the need for paying to have a robot. This event really strikes me as RoboCross 2.0, and I dislike that. I get the apparent "need" for a robot event in scioly, but this is very far from the answer in my opinion.
These users thanked the author BennyTheJett for the post:
sciolyperson1 (December 7th, 2020, 9:30 pm)
2021 Events:
Dynamic Planet, Fossils, Geocaching, Geologic Mapping, Water Quality,

Event Volunteering:
- Rickards Fossils C Writer/ES
- SOLVI Dynamic Planet C Cowriter/ES
- Socorro Dynamic Planet B Cowriter/ES
- River Hill Dynamic Planet C Writer/ES
- Menomonie Dynamic Plant B Writer/Grader

knightmoves
Member
Member
Posts: 319
Joined: April 26th, 2018, 6:40 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 27 times

Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by knightmoves » December 7th, 2020, 9:59 am

How much does it really cost to enter this event? I've never done it, but it seems to me like you could put together a reasonable attempt for somewhere in the $50 ballpark. That doesn't make it different from any of the other builds. How much does spending extra money actually get you?

User avatar
BennyTheJett
Exalted Member
Exalted Member
Posts: 391
Joined: February 21st, 2019, 2:05 pm
Division: C
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Has thanked: 83 times
Been thanked: 172 times

Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by BennyTheJett » December 7th, 2020, 10:04 am

knightmoves wrote:
December 7th, 2020, 9:59 am
How much does it really cost to enter this event? I've never done it, but it seems to me like you could put together a reasonable attempt for somewhere in the $50 ballpark. That doesn't make it different from any of the other builds. How much does spending extra money actually get you?
To compete for medals on the nationals level the kids that I've talked to think more than 50. This does not benefit smaller teams that attend nationals, such as Treasure Valley and others. This plays to bigger more affluent schools such as Solon and Troy.
2021 Events:
Dynamic Planet, Fossils, Geocaching, Geologic Mapping, Water Quality,

Event Volunteering:
- Rickards Fossils C Writer/ES
- SOLVI Dynamic Planet C Cowriter/ES
- Socorro Dynamic Planet B Cowriter/ES
- River Hill Dynamic Planet C Writer/ES
- Menomonie Dynamic Plant B Writer/Grader

User avatar
sciolyperson1
Exalted Member
Exalted Member
Posts: 1007
Joined: April 23rd, 2018, 7:13 pm
Division: C
State: NJ
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Has thanked: 366 times
Been thanked: 515 times
Contact:

Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by sciolyperson1 » December 7th, 2020, 10:01 pm

1) To get a Non-Participation (NP) rank ("working robot") it has a minimum budget - a reasonable estimate would be $50 dollars. This could be compared to <$5 dollars for balsa events, <$20 dollars for GV/MTV, ~5 dollars for PPP, etc. For any small team, this forces NS or P points. Anyone can make a working Gravity Vehicle by gluing a few sticks together; building a Robot requires much more skill than this.
This also includes kits. Competitors may be forced to use kits, similar to ELG/WS, which gives them a large advantage over other competitors. Kits do not teach much, designing and engineering does.

2) A distinct lack of interest in this trial event. This is also shown in Belleville and Boyceville's B and C, mini and Satellite tournaments, where less than 6% of all teams competing at these 8 tournaments participated (19/325). Notably, only 5 teams participated across all of the four division B tournaments (average just 1.2 participants per tournament), with two tournaments having winning teams since they were the only ones that competed, and another that did not have any teams at all.
If you think that this issue is only isolated to these tournaments due to it being early in the season or it being online, Solon Invitational ran it as a trial - 5 teams participated out of 72 teams, 3 of these teams got a negative score.

3) If I want to build a robot, there's something called Robotics, I didn't do Science Olympiad to do more Robotics. It's the same thing, dulled down. Robotics clubs have sponsors, coaches, parents, all dedicated to building one device. In an online setting, that's now ONE student, potentially one in middle school, building their own device.

4) Why are you replacing Robot Arm with an equally expensive event? As SB or BJT stated earlier, Amazing Mechatronics is one option. A proper substitution would be something comparable to Game On vs. Cybersecurity - teams do not have any advantage in testing and competing, and many people have shown interest in a non-Game On substitution (All BEARSO feedback that was given was positive and indicated that they did think that this was a feasible event, even as a replacement to Ping Pong Parachute). I've heard minimal positive feedback for Robot Tour, either because people don't like it, or because there aren't even enough participants that do the event to give feedback.
These users thanked the author sciolyperson1 for the post (total 12):
builderguy135 (December 8th, 2020, 4:42 am) • CookiePie1 (December 8th, 2020, 6:05 am) • BennyTheJett (December 8th, 2020, 7:31 am) • SilverBreeze (December 8th, 2020, 7:37 am) • gz839918 (December 8th, 2020, 8:50 am) • Umaroth (December 12th, 2020, 8:36 pm) • Booknerd (December 12th, 2020, 9:07 pm) • yoshiketchup (December 22nd, 2020, 5:18 pm) • kh.aotic (December 22nd, 2020, 5:18 pm) • legendaryalchemist (December 22nd, 2020, 5:40 pm) and 2 more users
WW-P HSN '22, Community '18, BirdSO Tournament Director
'21: Gravity - Boomi - WICI - PPP - Cybersec

BEARSO: Gravity - 1st '21
MIT: LMMM - 1st '21, DigiStruc - 2nd '21, Gravity - 1st '20
PUSO: PPP - 1st '20, WIDI -1st '20

Team:
Nats - 3rd '18, '19
MIT - 1st '21, 3rd '20

Rate my tests!

nicholasmaurer
Coach
Coach
Posts: 422
Joined: May 19th, 2017, 10:55 am
Division: Grad
State: OH
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 21 times

Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by nicholasmaurer » December 22nd, 2020, 4:06 pm

sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 7th, 2020, 10:01 pm
1) To get a Non-Participation (NP) rank ("working robot") it has a minimum budget - a reasonable estimate would be $50 dollars. This could be compared to <$5 dollars for balsa events, <$20 dollars for GV/MTV, ~5 dollars for PPP, etc. For any small team, this forces NS or P points. Anyone can make a working Gravity Vehicle by gluing a few sticks together; building a Robot requires much more skill than this.
This also includes kits. Competitors may be forced to use kits, similar to ELG/WS, which gives them a large advantage over other competitors. Kits do not teach much, designing and engineering does.

2) A distinct lack of interest in this trial event. This is also shown in Belleville and Boyceville's B and C, mini and Satellite tournaments, where less than 6% of all teams competing at these 8 tournaments participated (19/325). Notably, only 5 teams participated across all of the four division B tournaments (average just 1.2 participants per tournament), with two tournaments having winning teams since they were the only ones that competed, and another that did not have any teams at all.
If you think that this issue is only isolated to these tournaments due to it being early in the season or it being online, Solon Invitational ran it as a trial - 5 teams participated out of 72 teams, 3 of these teams got a negative score.

3) If I want to build a robot, there's something called Robotics, I didn't do Science Olympiad to do more Robotics. It's the same thing, dulled down. Robotics clubs have sponsors, coaches, parents, all dedicated to building one device. In an online setting, that's now ONE student, potentially one in middle school, building their own device.

4) Why are you replacing Robot Arm with an equally expensive event? As SB or BJT stated earlier, Amazing Mechatronics is one option. A proper substitution would be something comparable to Game On vs. Cybersecurity - teams do not have any advantage in testing and competing, and many people have shown interest in a non-Game On substitution (All BEARSO feedback that was given was positive and indicated that they did think that this was a feasible event, even as a replacement to Ping Pong Parachute). I've heard minimal positive feedback for Robot Tour, either because people don't like it, or because there aren't even enough participants that do the event to give feedback.
I think there are a few things to consider on this topic that should be added to the discussion here:

1) With respect to budget: Having spoken with the NES who developed this event, and having coached students who compete in it, I would agree that ~$50 would be your typical cost to entry. It might be possible to do this event for slightly less, especially if you can salvage common parts from previous builds, but $50 seems like a fair number in general. Is this more expensive than Wright Stuff or Gravity Vehicle, for example? As a minimum cost, almost certainly yes. If you are trying to be competitive, not really. I can tell you from experience that even moderately competitive teams (not just the Solons and Troys of the world) spend more than $50 on kits, components, etc. for these events. Additionally, I think a more fair comparison might be Robot Arm, which has a minimum cost at least as high as $50, and likely higher.

Furthermore, one of the goals of this event is to avoid a pay-to-win scenario, as has been a problem historically with some events (see: MagLev, Robot Arm). You can achieve (and I have observed) good results with relatively simple, inexpensive components. Much of the result hinges on how robust your code is to allow you to react to the specific combination of gates, starting and end points, and target times you are provided. The fact that it forces competitors to adapt their code during the event also solves some issues around alumni or parents constructing devices for students.

2) When is there ever much interest, at an invitational level, in a build trial event not scheduled to enter rotation for several years? It is a lot of time, effort, and expense for an event that students will only encounter a handful of times and only as a trial event. The virtual environment, which I certainly hope is restricted to just this season, exacerbates that problem further. Students do not have the same access to materials, tools, and collaboration they would in a normal year to make their devices successful. The Solon Invitational last year did have only a handful of teams competing; it was also the first time the event had ever been run.

3) Yes, if your personal passion is robotics, you might be able to join a club focused on robotics, especially if you go to a large school. However, there are many Science Olympiad teams that come from smaller, rural schools. In these cases, SO is often one of the few STEM extracurricular offerings available. Additionally, there is a desire from the national organization to make sure Science Olympiad is teaching the skills needed in today's STEM workforce. The ability to program and handle basic robotics is one of those core skills.

4) As I said above, I think the minimum cost of Robot Tour might be similar to Robot Arm (although I suspect it is actually lower). However, the cost to be competitive is far far lower with Robot Tour because the emphasis is on adaptable code rather than expensive components. Being unfamiliar with Amazing Mechatronics, I cannot say one way or the other if it would be a good event. I will take your word that it is - even so, there is a need and a desire for more than one event in the robotics/applied programming space. Why not both?
Last edited by nicholasmaurer on December 22nd, 2020, 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Assistant Coach and Alumnus ('14) - Solon High School Science Olympiad
Tournament Director - Northeast Ohio Regional Tournament
Tournament Director - Solon High School Science Olympiad Invitational

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

User avatar
sciolyperson1
Exalted Member
Exalted Member
Posts: 1007
Joined: April 23rd, 2018, 7:13 pm
Division: C
State: NJ
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Has thanked: 366 times
Been thanked: 515 times
Contact:

Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by sciolyperson1 » December 22nd, 2020, 5:13 pm

nicholasmaurer wrote:
December 22nd, 2020, 4:06 pm
sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 7th, 2020, 10:01 pm
1) To get a Non-Participation (NP) rank ("working robot") it has a minimum budget - a reasonable estimate would be $50 dollars. This could be compared to <$5 dollars for balsa events, <$20 dollars for GV/MTV, ~5 dollars for PPP, etc. For any small team, this forces NS or P points. Anyone can make a working Gravity Vehicle by gluing a few sticks together; building a Robot requires much more skill than this.
This also includes kits. Competitors may be forced to use kits, similar to ELG/WS, which gives them a large advantage over other competitors. Kits do not teach much, designing and engineering does.

2) A distinct lack of interest in this trial event. This is also shown in Belleville and Boyceville's B and C, mini and Satellite tournaments, where less than 6% of all teams competing at these 8 tournaments participated (19/325). Notably, only 5 teams participated across all of the four division B tournaments (average just 1.2 participants per tournament), with two tournaments having winning teams since they were the only ones that competed, and another that did not have any teams at all.
If you think that this issue is only isolated to these tournaments due to it being early in the season or it being online, Solon Invitational ran it as a trial - 5 teams participated out of 72 teams, 3 of these teams got a negative score.

3) If I want to build a robot, there's something called Robotics, I didn't do Science Olympiad to do more Robotics. It's the same thing, dulled down. Robotics clubs have sponsors, coaches, parents, all dedicated to building one device. In an online setting, that's now ONE student, potentially one in middle school, building their own device.

4) Why are you replacing Robot Arm with an equally expensive event? As SB or BJT stated earlier, Amazing Mechatronics is one option. A proper substitution would be something comparable to Game On vs. Cybersecurity - teams do not have any advantage in testing and competing, and many people have shown interest in a non-Game On substitution (All BEARSO feedback that was given was positive and indicated that they did think that this was a feasible event, even as a replacement to Ping Pong Parachute). I've heard minimal positive feedback for Robot Tour, either because people don't like it, or because there aren't even enough participants that do the event to give feedback.
I think there are a few things to consider on this topic that should be added to the discussion here:

1) With respect to budget: Having spoken with the NES who developed this event, and having coached students who compete in it, I would agree that ~$50 would be your typical cost to entry. It might be possible to do this event for slightly less, especially if you can salvage common parts from previous builds, but $50 seems like a fair number in general. Is this more expensive than Wright Stuff or Gravity Vehicle, for example? As a minimum cost, almost certainly yes. If you are trying to be competitive, not really. I can tell you from experience that even moderately competitive teams (not just the Solons and Troys of the world) spend more than $50 on kits, components, etc. for these events. Additionally, I think a more fair comparison might be Robot Arm, which has a minimum cost at least as high as $50, and likely higher.

Furthermore, one of the goals of this event is to avoid a pay-to-win scenario, as has been a problem historically with some events (see: MagLev, Robot Arm). You can achieve (and I have observed) good results with relatively simple, inexpensive components. Much of the result hinges on how robust your code is to allow you to react to the specific combination of gates, starting and end points, and target times you are provided. The fact that it forces competitors to adapt their code during the event also solves some issues around alumni or parents constructing devices for students.

2) When is there ever much interest, at an invitational level, in a build trial event not scheduled to enter rotation for several years? It is a lot of time, effort, and expense for an event that students will only encounter a handful of times and only as a trial event. The virtual environment, which I certainly hope is restricted to just this season, exacerbates that problem further. Students do not have the same access to materials, tools, and collaboration they would in a normal year to make their devices successful. The Solon Invitational last year did have only a handful of teams competing; it was also the first time the event had ever been run.

3) Yes, if your personal passion is robotics, you might be able to join a club focused on robotics, especially if you go to a large school. However, there are many Science Olympiad teams that come from smaller, rural schools. In these cases, SO is often one of the few STEM extracurricular offerings available. Additionally, there is a desire from the national organization to make sure Science Olympiad is teaching the skills needed in today's STEM workforce. The ability to program and handle basic robotics is one of those core skills.

4) As I said above, I think the minimum cost of Robot Tour might be similar to Robot Arm (although I suspect it is actually lower). However, the cost to be competitive is far far lower with Robot Tour because the emphasis is on adaptable code rather than expensive components. Being unfamiliar with Amazing Mechatronics, I cannot say one way or the other if it would be a good event. I will take your word that it is - even so, there is a need and a desire for more than one event in the robotics/applied programming space. Why not both?

1) You stated that $50 was a fair starting point for many teams, but just like any other build event, inexperienced teams lean towards kits that companies sell to assemble for competition. Although yes, the theoretical minimum is $50, that is only for a team that knows exactly what to buy - and commonly, teams experiment with different materials or parts to learn what best fits their vehicle, which is a whole part of the engineering and STEM mindset. If a team were to assemble a kit, the event description Powerpoint has four options: $65, $60, $135, and $65 - and only if a team knows exactly what to buy for their parts.

The pay-to-play scenario only applies to higher level teams, and by catering to more competitive teams, you are completely disregarding smaller, disadvantaged teams. Sure, a competitor like me or someone on your team might be fine with the $50 or more (and for many teams like ours, that comes from our pockets, not from sponsors' like more fortunate teams), but most teams struggle to produce these funds, as Science Olympiad might just be a side club they infrequently attend.

2) Digital Structures. The license is $50, and typically the event is trialed at competitions - because often times, disadvantaged teams cannot pay for the licenses. Yet, many people continue to participate in the event, with NS counts on par with even Detector Building at competitions like Boyceville and Belleville.

I think a "handful of teams" isn't 5 teams, one of them being Solon's (which I assume Nick coached), and considering that the invitational had 72 in person teams, it shows that teams just aren't invested at all. SoCal states trialed Gravity Vehicle and Detector Building in 2019; 12 teams participated in Detector Building (electronic/circuit build) and 16 in Gravity Vehicle, and SoCal states had more than 2x less teams than Solon Invitational did.

3) You stated that there may be teams coming from small rural schools, but most of those teams don't even participate in events such as Boomilever, Gravity Vehicle/Mousetrap Vehicle, and Wright Stuff/ELG. Take Iowa, a mainly rural state, and one of the last state competitions last season. With 21 teams at their state competition, 13 of those teams no showed Detector Building, 9 of those teams no showed Ping Pong Parachute, and 10 no showed Gravity Vehicle (compared to common study events such as Anat (3), Astro (4), etc), showing that although building, engineering, and technology events may be an option, they do not participate in them. The goal in this case would be to expose these disadvantaged teams first to non-electronic engineering events, not to skip all the way to Robot Tour, which you stated had a minimum cost even greater than those of common build events.

4) The whole point of a new event would be to expose teams the event, and considering the minimum cost is on par with registering with a miniSO invitational, many teams struggle to find the funds to construct the robot, leading to no shows from many of the events. Yes - the cost to be competitive is lowered, but before you care about the better, competitive teams, you have to cater to smaller, less involved teams - which Robot Tour struggles to do.


Not every team is as fortunate as yours, with twenty sponsors sponsoring your team and an invitational, which pulls in profit as well. Not every team has a sponsor, not every team has coaches, and not every team has the experience that your team might have. Coming from an equally competitive team placing equal or above yours at many competitions, our team has no event coaches and no funding from schools - all build money comes out of my family's pocket, and the last thing I want to see is yet another event requiring a minimum of $50 just to participate in the event. Hopefully National Science Olympiad reconsiders disadvantaged or non-sponsored teams.


Edit: https://www.hippocketaeronautics.com/hp ... ge_id=7540 3 Dollar Penny Plane
Last edited by sciolyperson1 on December 22nd, 2020, 5:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
These users thanked the author sciolyperson1 for the post (total 8):
kh.aotic (December 22nd, 2020, 5:18 pm) • yoshiketchup (December 22nd, 2020, 5:18 pm) • builderguy135 (December 22nd, 2020, 5:20 pm) • 404ic (December 22nd, 2020, 5:22 pm) • jshah21 (December 22nd, 2020, 5:36 pm) • SilverBreeze (December 22nd, 2020, 5:48 pm) • BennyTheJett (December 25th, 2020, 6:40 pm) • HugoTroop (December 26th, 2020, 3:44 pm)
WW-P HSN '22, Community '18, BirdSO Tournament Director
'21: Gravity - Boomi - WICI - PPP - Cybersec

BEARSO: Gravity - 1st '21
MIT: LMMM - 1st '21, DigiStruc - 2nd '21, Gravity - 1st '20
PUSO: PPP - 1st '20, WIDI -1st '20

Team:
Nats - 3rd '18, '19
MIT - 1st '21, 3rd '20

Rate my tests!

nicholasmaurer
Coach
Coach
Posts: 422
Joined: May 19th, 2017, 10:55 am
Division: Grad
State: OH
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 21 times

Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by nicholasmaurer » December 23rd, 2020, 11:39 pm

sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2020, 5:13 pm

1) You stated that $50 was a fair starting point for many teams, but just like any other build event, inexperienced teams lean towards kits that companies sell to assemble for competition. Although yes, the theoretical minimum is $50, that is only for a team that knows exactly what to buy - and commonly, teams experiment with different materials or parts to learn what best fits their vehicle, which is a whole part of the engineering and STEM mindset. If a team were to assemble a kit, the event description Powerpoint has four options: $65, $60, $135, and $65 - and only if a team knows exactly what to buy for their parts.

The pay-to-play scenario only applies to higher level teams, and by catering to more competitive teams, you are completely disregarding smaller, disadvantaged teams. Sure, a competitor like me or someone on your team might be fine with the $50 or more (and for many teams like ours, that comes from our pockets, not from sponsors' like more fortunate teams), but most teams struggle to produce these funds, as Science Olympiad might just be a side club they infrequently attend.
The pay-to-play/pay-to-win scenario is only accessible to "higher level teams," but it inherently disadvantages all of the other teams. I also reject your implication that our students do not buy materials and supplies out-of-pocket. Our students are commonly expected to do so, and many of the devices you have seen us compete with were paid for partially or entirely by students and their families. We have certainly made it a goal, over the past few years, to reduce these costs by having the team cover more of these expenses so as to make our team more accessible to students of all financial means. I don't think that ought to draw your criticism.

As a regional tournament director, equity of access to different events is something I have worked on closely the past few years and will continue to work on in the future.

Your point about the kits is valid, however I think a kit might actually make things less expensive. You are correct the PowerPoint that is published cites costs ranging from $65 to $135, but much of that is due to purchasing materials in bulk, which lowers unit costs but increases overall costs. Again, I know the ES who developed this event, and he often had to purchase a set of 10 of something (which increases cost) even though he only needed one. Kits would allow students to buy-in at those lower unit costs.
sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2020, 5:13 pm
2) Digital Structures. The license is $50, and typically the event is trialed at competitions - because often times, disadvantaged teams cannot pay for the licenses. Yet, many people continue to participate in the event, with NS counts on par with even Detector Building at competitions like Boyceville and Belleville.

I think a "handful of teams" isn't 5 teams, one of them being Solon's (which I assume Nick coached), and considering that the invitational had 72 in person teams, it shows that teams just aren't invested at all. SoCal states trialed Gravity Vehicle and Detector Building in 2019; 12 teams participated in Detector Building (electronic/circuit build) and 16 in Gravity Vehicle, and SoCal states had more than 2x less teams than Solon Invitational did.
I am not sure when Digital Structures entered the discussion, but I personally agree with you that asking schools to pay a $50/team license fee for a trial event is unreasonable. Unfortunately, it is the scenario we find ourselves in this year.

Regardless, the common numeric definition of a handful is five, there being five fingers on most hands. I certainly coached the overall team that competed at Solon, but to my knowledge there was no adult coaching involved in creating our Robot Tour device nor did the team pay for the components. Once again, I will point out (as I said in my original post): "When is there ever much interest, at an invitational level, in a build trial event not scheduled to enter rotation for several years?" The example you cite for comparison, Gravity Vehicle and Detector Building, is from a state tournament and both were scheduled to enter rotation the following year. This is, once again, not a fair comparison. Students clearly have much more vested interest in preparing for events at the state tournament and events that will soon return to the primary rotation.
sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2020, 5:13 pm
3) You stated that there may be teams coming from small rural schools, but most of those teams don't even participate in events such as Boomilever, Gravity Vehicle/Mousetrap Vehicle, and Wright Stuff/ELG. Take Iowa, a mainly rural state, and one of the last state competitions last season. With 21 teams at their state competition, 13 of those teams no showed Detector Building, 9 of those teams no showed Ping Pong Parachute, and 10 no showed Gravity Vehicle (compared to common study events such as Anat (3), Astro (4), etc), showing that although building, engineering, and technology events may be an option, they do not participate in them. The goal in this case would be to expose these disadvantaged teams first to non-electronic engineering events, not to skip all the way to Robot Tour, which you stated had a minimum cost even greater than those of common build events.
The lack of participation in the building events at smaller schools is discouraging, I agree. It is an issue that is discussed often at the national level and between state directors. I think we need to find ways to support these teams for both robotic and non-robotic events. I don't think the solution is simply lowering the bar; I think it's finding ways to empower these schools and students to exceed it.
sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2020, 5:13 pm
4) The whole point of a new event would be to expose teams the event, and considering the minimum cost is on par with registering with a miniSO invitational, many teams struggle to find the funds to construct the robot, leading to no shows from many of the events. Yes - the cost to be competitive is lowered, but before you care about the better, competitive teams, you have to cater to smaller, less involved teams - which Robot Tour struggles to do.

Not every team is as fortunate as yours, with twenty sponsors sponsoring your team and an invitational, which pulls in profit as well. Not every team has a sponsor, not every team has coaches, and not every team has the experience that your team might have. Coming from an equally competitive team placing equal or above yours at many competitions, our team has no event coaches and no funding from schools - all build money comes out of my family's pocket, and the last thing I want to see is yet another event requiring a minimum of $50 just to participate in the event. Hopefully National Science Olympiad reconsiders disadvantaged or non-sponsored teams.
You are completely accurate to say that not every team is as fortunate as mine. We do have sponsors and we do have an invitational tournament. I think, despite those facts, you would be surprised at how many costs our individual students do still face. In fact, until I started coaching the team three years ago, we had zero sponsors. The effort to recruit sponsors these past few years was precisely targeted at lowering costs for our students to make the club more accessible to all. Once again, I don't think that should be a source for criticism.

Similarly, our team has no event coaches. I am not sure where that rumor began, but our team has two coaches: a Head Coach and an Assistant Coach (me). We do have a few alumni and parents who intermittently help out, especially in a normal year when we need chaperones and help running events at tournaments. However, we do NOT have a dedicated coach for each or even most events. Our practices are run and organized by the students themselves...

We can certainly agree to disagree on the merits of this event. But I do want to make it very clear that our team's success and experience is rooted in our students' talent and hard work, as I am sure is the success of your team.
Last edited by nicholasmaurer on December 23rd, 2020, 11:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Assistant Coach and Alumnus ('14) - Solon High School Science Olympiad
Tournament Director - Northeast Ohio Regional Tournament
Tournament Director - Solon High School Science Olympiad Invitational

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

User avatar
sciolyperson1
Exalted Member
Exalted Member
Posts: 1007
Joined: April 23rd, 2018, 7:13 pm
Division: C
State: NJ
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Has thanked: 366 times
Been thanked: 515 times
Contact:

Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by sciolyperson1 » December 24th, 2020, 11:24 pm

nicholasmaurer wrote:
December 23rd, 2020, 11:39 pm
sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2020, 5:13 pm

1) You stated that $50 was a fair starting point for many teams, but just like any other build event, inexperienced teams lean towards kits that companies sell to assemble for competition. Although yes, the theoretical minimum is $50, that is only for a team that knows exactly what to buy - and commonly, teams experiment with different materials or parts to learn what best fits their vehicle, which is a whole part of the engineering and STEM mindset. If a team were to assemble a kit, the event description Powerpoint has four options: $65, $60, $135, and $65 - and only if a team knows exactly what to buy for their parts.

The pay-to-play scenario only applies to higher level teams, and by catering to more competitive teams, you are completely disregarding smaller, disadvantaged teams. Sure, a competitor like me or someone on your team might be fine with the $50 or more (and for many teams like ours, that comes from our pockets, not from sponsors' like more fortunate teams), but most teams struggle to produce these funds, as Science Olympiad might just be a side club they infrequently attend.
The pay-to-play/pay-to-win scenario is only accessible to "higher level teams," but it inherently disadvantages all of the other teams. I also reject your implication that our students do not buy materials and supplies out-of-pocket. Our students are commonly expected to do so, and many of the devices you have seen us compete with were paid for partially or entirely by students and their families. We have certainly made it a goal, over the past few years, to reduce these costs by having the team cover more of these expenses so as to make our team more accessible to students of all financial means. I don't think that ought to draw your criticism.

As a regional tournament director, equity of access to different events is something I have worked on closely the past few years and will continue to work on in the future.

Your point about the kits is valid, however I think a kit might actually make things less expensive. You are correct the PowerPoint that is published cites costs ranging from $65 to $135, but much of that is due to purchasing materials in bulk, which lowers unit costs but increases overall costs. Again, I know the ES who developed this event, and he often had to purchase a set of 10 of something (which increases cost) even though he only needed one. Kits would allow students to buy-in at those lower unit costs.
sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2020, 5:13 pm
2) Digital Structures. The license is $50, and typically the event is trialed at competitions - because often times, disadvantaged teams cannot pay for the licenses. Yet, many people continue to participate in the event, with NS counts on par with even Detector Building at competitions like Boyceville and Belleville.

I think a "handful of teams" isn't 5 teams, one of them being Solon's (which I assume Nick coached), and considering that the invitational had 72 in person teams, it shows that teams just aren't invested at all. SoCal states trialed Gravity Vehicle and Detector Building in 2019; 12 teams participated in Detector Building (electronic/circuit build) and 16 in Gravity Vehicle, and SoCal states had more than 2x less teams than Solon Invitational did.
I am not sure when Digital Structures entered the discussion, but I personally agree with you that asking schools to pay a $50/team license fee for a trial event is unreasonable. Unfortunately, it is the scenario we find ourselves in this year.

Regardless, the common numeric definition of a handful is five, there being five fingers on most hands. I certainly coached the overall team that competed at Solon, but to my knowledge there was no adult coaching involved in creating our Robot Tour device nor did the team pay for the components. Once again, I will point out (as I said in my original post): "When is there ever much interest, at an invitational level, in a build trial event not scheduled to enter rotation for several years?" The example you cite for comparison, Gravity Vehicle and Detector Building, is from a state tournament and both were scheduled to enter rotation the following year. This is, once again, not a fair comparison. Students clearly have much more vested interest in preparing for events at the state tournament and events that will soon return to the primary rotation.
sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2020, 5:13 pm
3) You stated that there may be teams coming from small rural schools, but most of those teams don't even participate in events such as Boomilever, Gravity Vehicle/Mousetrap Vehicle, and Wright Stuff/ELG. Take Iowa, a mainly rural state, and one of the last state competitions last season. With 21 teams at their state competition, 13 of those teams no showed Detector Building, 9 of those teams no showed Ping Pong Parachute, and 10 no showed Gravity Vehicle (compared to common study events such as Anat (3), Astro (4), etc), showing that although building, engineering, and technology events may be an option, they do not participate in them. The goal in this case would be to expose these disadvantaged teams first to non-electronic engineering events, not to skip all the way to Robot Tour, which you stated had a minimum cost even greater than those of common build events.
The lack of participation in the building events at smaller schools is discouraging, I agree. It is an issue that is discussed often at the national level and between state directors. I think we need to find ways to support these teams for both robotic and non-robotic events. I don't think the solution is simply lowering the bar; I think it's finding ways to empower these schools and students to exceed it.
sciolyperson1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2020, 5:13 pm
4) The whole point of a new event would be to expose teams the event, and considering the minimum cost is on par with registering with a miniSO invitational, many teams struggle to find the funds to construct the robot, leading to no shows from many of the events. Yes - the cost to be competitive is lowered, but before you care about the better, competitive teams, you have to cater to smaller, less involved teams - which Robot Tour struggles to do.

Not every team is as fortunate as yours, with twenty sponsors sponsoring your team and an invitational, which pulls in profit as well. Not every team has a sponsor, not every team has coaches, and not every team has the experience that your team might have. Coming from an equally competitive team placing equal or above yours at many competitions, our team has no event coaches and no funding from schools - all build money comes out of my family's pocket, and the last thing I want to see is yet another event requiring a minimum of $50 just to participate in the event. Hopefully National Science Olympiad reconsiders disadvantaged or non-sponsored teams.
You are completely accurate to say that not every team is as fortunate as mine. We do have sponsors and we do have an invitational tournament. I think, despite those facts, you would be surprised at how many costs our individual students do still face. In fact, until I started coaching the team three years ago, we had zero sponsors. The effort to recruit sponsors these past few years was precisely targeted at lowering costs for our students to make the club more accessible to all. Once again, I don't think that should be a source for criticism.

Similarly, our team has no event coaches. I am not sure where that rumor began, but our team has two coaches: a Head Coach and an Assistant Coach (me). We do have a few alumni and parents who intermittently help out, especially in a normal year when we need chaperones and help running events at tournaments. However, we do NOT have a dedicated coach for each or even most events. Our practices are run and organized by the students themselves...

We can certainly agree to disagree on the merits of this event. But I do want to make it very clear that our team's success and experience is rooted in our students' talent and hard work, as I am sure is the success of your team.
https://app.avogadro.ws/wisconsin/belle ... s/event/22
These users thanked the author sciolyperson1 for the post (total 2):
BennyTheJett (December 25th, 2020, 7:01 pm) • HugoTroop (December 26th, 2020, 3:44 pm)
WW-P HSN '22, Community '18, BirdSO Tournament Director
'21: Gravity - Boomi - WICI - PPP - Cybersec

BEARSO: Gravity - 1st '21
MIT: LMMM - 1st '21, DigiStruc - 2nd '21, Gravity - 1st '20
PUSO: PPP - 1st '20, WIDI -1st '20

Team:
Nats - 3rd '18, '19
MIT - 1st '21, 3rd '20

Rate my tests!

Post Reply

Return to “Build Events”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests