Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by lindsmaurer » December 25th, 2020, 10:19 am

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 is demonstrably false. The rules state that the robot "must be designed and programmed to follow track lines, make decisions at intersections, travel between gates, and stop at a designated target point on the track without external interactions." While a top device would probably have sensors, etc, a frame can be crafted out simple household materials, and the electrical components of the device consist of any microcontroller (let's use an arduino uno for example, off-brand versions of which can be had for ~$12.00) and two motors. Prices for a basic, calibratable device that won't be tiered and can place reasonably well can be brought down to $20.

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
This is very true. Robotics is dedicated to building high-end, complicated robots. Many divisions also costs tens of thousands of dollars and require high-level sponsors to do well, hence why many schools don't have teams. This event is about trying to give people an introduction to robotics while making robotics accessible, and is exactly why it's a Science Olympiad event, not dulled-down robotics. This event is also more about fast-paced competitive adaptability and strategy than it is about build skills. Robotics is about precision and build skills.


To your point about pay-to-win and kits: flying events generally require kits to do well, and those kits are expensive. Can the devices be made without the kits? Yes. Can a team win without the kit? No. The point of Robot Tour is that while a team could pour a lot of money into their device, that money won't get them anywhere, because high-end parts are unlikely to get them much farther past maybe a few extra sensors. Some parts can add value, sure, as with any build event unfortunately, but it's mostly design and strategy and thinking on your feet. Events such as Gravity Vehicle are even more pay to win than this. Yes, you can have a device for very little that can get participation. But to have a ramp that will work and a precise car with repeatable stopping points, you need to put money into wheels and typically the frame as well. The ramp is especially difficult.

I would also agree that there hasn't been much interest in robot tour, but when would a team ever put the time into an electronic trial event for an invitational? There's not much of a point.
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.
Yes, we have many sponsors, but as Nick pointed out, those are recent. Our students reach out to get those sponsors, and the reason behind those sponsors is not the team's success, but simply the connection to science and education that the club has. I'm sure that our students and coaches would be happy to share how we got sponsors if anyone asked; it's not supposed to be a secret.

Our invitational is another point of profit, which I would agree is another reason our team is fortunate. And I cannot argue that our team is fortunate, but I also have to note that our Division C team has no adult event coaches. We have event captains- students assigned to each event who find resources and create a plan. Any adult resources are found by these event captains, contacted by them, and then brought in for individual sessions for that one event. They aren't adult coaches who coach entire events the entire season. Our practice schedule is put together, not by coaches, but by our junior captains. Our captains put together our schedule for each invitational.

Yes, we have been trying to make builds more accessible for less advantaged students, but generally our students pay for our builds out of pocket. All build money for any of my builds or my brothers' builds, cheat sheets, binders, resources etc. have come out of my family's pocket, and the same goes for most people from Solon.

Robotics events have long been pay-to-play in SO, but the focus in robot tour shifts from the device itself (which quality impacts, but not to the same extent as other builds) to the competition and the strategy, making pouring money into it less advantageous, and making it possible for disadvantaged teams to win.
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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by Rossyspsce » December 25th, 2020, 5:58 pm

lindsmaurer wrote:
December 25th, 2020, 10:19 am
To your point about pay-to-win and kits: flying events generally require kits to do well, and those kits are expensive. Can the devices be made without the kits? Yes. Can a team win without the kit? No.
Now this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Plain and simple let’s take a look at the most recent nationals, 2019 at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Top 3 at the minimum in both Elastic Launched Gliders B and Wright Stuff C were custom designs/did not use a kit, with the latter having top 2 far and ahead of the rest of the competition, custom, kit, or otherwise. Only year where a kit *seemed* mandatory to win was 2018 Helicopters C, but even then a custom design won nationals by a wide margin.
The point of Robot Tour is that while a team could pour a lot of money into their device, that money won't get them anywhere, because high-end parts are unlikely to get them much farther past maybe a few extra sensors. Some parts can add value, sure, as with any build event unfortunately, but it's mostly design and strategy and thinking on your feet.
While I agree with you on the “thinking on your feet” look at 2016/2017 Electric Vehicle C, where you had to think on your feet with the variable target and bonus distances, but a well programmed device was able to place in both years of the event. Similarly, Mystery Architecture B is a pure thinking on the fly event, yet many have experienced the issues with it first hand, which resulted in it being thrown out at many tournaments.
Events such as Gravity Vehicle are even more pay to win than this. Yes, you can have a device for very little that can get participation. But to have a ramp that will work and a precise car with repeatable stopping points, you need to put money into wheels and typically the frame as well. The ramp is especially difficult.
A ramp can quite literally be built for free from the scrap pile and doesn’t even need to be a curve to do well, especially under the 2021 ruleset. As for the car/vehicle, spending money on “good” wheels is lower than you seem to pose. All that is needed in a good set of wheels is some sort of grip(balloons work fine) and some rigidity for repeated use.
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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by builderguy135 » December 25th, 2020, 6:18 pm

lindsmaurer wrote:
December 25th, 2020, 10:19 am
This is demonstrably false. The rules state that the robot "must be designed and programmed to follow track lines, make decisions at intersections, travel between gates, and stop at a designated target point on the track without external interactions." While a top device would probably have sensors, etc, a frame can be crafted out simple household materials, and the electrical components of the device consist of any microcontroller (let's use an arduino uno for example, off-brand versions of which can be had for ~$12.00) and two motors. Prices for a basic, calibratable device that won't be tiered and can place reasonably well can be brought down to $20.
The standards that you're setting for teams is remarkably low. You claim that $20 is enough money to build a device that "won't be tiered" and can place "reasonably well". This isn't an debate of much money teams need to not get tiered -- that's an absurd comparison, and frankly, Science Olympiad is a competition, and teams aren't here just to participate. Teams who are underprivileged should be able to enter the competition with a reasonable amount of money and have a similar chance of medaling or even winning through hard work alone.

Your $20 estimate is assuming that a team is buying not only off-brand versions of microcontrollers, but you are also assuming that teams are able to build a chassis, purchase motors, wheels, electronic parts, sensors, shipping and other miscellaneous items with just... $8. As a seasoned builder who has done every type of building event, I cannot imagine how this is possible. Not only this, but these estimates fail to account for things such building multiple designs and/or trial and error. A build event is not a building event without having to build, test, and optimize many designs. It is simply unfair that it is assumed that teams are able to build a working device on their first attempt.
nickmaurer wrote: 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.
Nick's $50 estimate is far more reasonable, yet it is still an unfair and extremely biased estimate. If you would like to talk about the minimum cost to assemble a device that "won't be tiered", I could easily come up with <$5 devices that "won't be tiered" when it comes to any other building event. A Ping Pong Parachute can simply be reduced to pieces of paper taped onto an empty soda bottle (free). A Gravity Vehicle can simply be 4 CDs attached to a piece of wood rolling down a plywood board ($5). A Wright Stuff plane can be a balsa frame ($5) attached with trash bags and a common office rubber band ($5). A boomilever can be popsicle sticks attached with Elmer's glue ($5). I could go on and on about the minimum cost to enter an event, but at the end of the day, many teams will not be able to afford participating in this event. Just because a device "could" do well doesn't mean it will, nor will it be "competitive" by any standard. Yes, the aforementioned Gravity Vehicle could be trimmed and be competitive. If it was feasible, many teams would resort to cheap alternatives instead of building devices that cost hundreds of dollars. Is it really competitive? Of course not.

The number of teams that cannot afford to even sign up for the competition is already too high. These are the teams that will end up no-showing an event, bringing their team score down and widening the disparity between privileged and underprivileged teams.
lindsmaurer wrote:
December 25th, 2020, 10:19 am
To your point about pay-to-win and kits: flying events generally require kits to do well, and those kits are expensive. Can the devices be made without the kits? Yes. Can a team win without the kit? No. The point of Robot Tour is that while a team could pour a lot of money into their device, that money won't get them anywhere, because high-end parts are unlikely to get them much farther past maybe a few extra sensors. Some parts can add value, sure, as with any build event unfortunately, but it's mostly design and strategy and thinking on your feet. Events such as Gravity Vehicle are even more pay to win than this. Yes, you can have a device for very little that can get participation. But to have a ramp that will work and a precise car with repeatable stopping points, you need to put money into wheels and typically the frame as well. The ramp is especially difficult.
I could not disagree more. In recent memory, every single national champion of a flying event has used a non-kit design and from free resources. The debate about the effectiveness of kits is for another discussion, but the general consensus is that kits are good for learning how to do an event, but is terrible for top-tier competition.
lindsmaurer wrote:
December 25th, 2020, 10:19 am
But to have a ramp that will work and a precise car with repeatable stopping points, you need to put money into wheels and typically the frame as well. The ramp is especially difficult.
This has become yet again a debate of cost of entry. Yes, a $5 Gravity Vehicle will not do well. Yet, a $30 Gravity Vehicle can win MIT. Can a $30 or even $50 Robot Tour feasibly and consistently do the same?
lindsmaurer wrote:
December 25th, 2020, 10:19 am
I would also agree that there hasn't been much interest in robot tour, but when would a team ever put the time into an electronic trial event for an invitational? There's not much of a point.
See Nationals 2006, where 39 teams participated in Balloon Launched Glider, a trial event. Or, see Wisconsin States 2019, where 20 teams participated in Aerial Scramble.

To put this in perspective, the SHSSO Invitational website reads the following:
SHSSO Invitational Website wrote: We are the largest Division C tournament in the country, and hosted 72 teams from eight states at our 2020 tournament. These included many of the top schools in both Ohio and the nation; five of our attendees placed in the top ten schools in the country for 2019.
If the largest Division C tournament can only get five teams to participate in Robot Tour (2 with non-negative scores), I cannot imagine how there will be much interest for this event. Even if my example about BLG is from Nationals, 39 teams is far from the 5 teams that participated in Robot Tour.
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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by BennyTheJett » December 25th, 2020, 8:57 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.
Let me explain my perspective:

We're a small team from Rural Wisconsin. We sometimes have a rougher time meeting financial ends meet than some of our in state counterparts, notably Madison West and Marquette University High School (I don't want to take anything away from 2 very talented teams, but they have much larger budgets than ourselves). Personally, our school doesn't have a problem funding our events, however we are able to provide no or very minimal funding for our builders. While our builders feel they can be competitive (albeit for more than 50 bucks in this event), they are also far more dedicated to the olympiad than many of the other smaller schools with even less funding than ourselves. This creates a divide amongst schools (like Nick mentioned). This being said, I find it VERY intriguing that far, far, far more of these smaller rural school are participating in events like Digitals Structures over events like Robot Tour. In my opinion this speaks volumes over what the Science Olympiad community as a whole thinks. In my opinion, Digital Structures seems far less pay to WIN than Robot Tour. While the costs to enter I certainly think need to be reduced, once you're entered, the playing field is COMPLETELY LEVEL (financially that is). I think Amazing Mechatronics is also a suitable replacement for this event, given Arduino work. Like SP1 pointed out, I think that it is ridiculous to buy a 65 (the lowest amount) dollar kit just to get a non-negative score. I also think that the costs for building a robot from scratch to contend at the higher levels of Scioly (states and nationals) will only be low for teams with very very experienced robot makers. Most solid teams will spend hours amd hours and hours working on making a robot, then splurge to buy the best stuff to be competitive at a high level. Again, why does Scioly need to make off brand robotics events? I get the tech stuff, but there's other extracurricular s dedicated to robotics, so why should we need to have an event like that (yes I know this is supposed to be comprehensive, but I'm sure there's other ways to test on technology). I find it quite offensive to assume that underfunded teams should settle for less if they are willing to work to win simply due to resource access (yet another reason to hate binders, but that's a different debate). As it sits, I am very frustrated with the current direction Science Olympiad is taking (not trying to diss the national board or anyone). I am currently looking into how school size amd wealth affects the top teams of Scioly, and plan on sharing my results with the national board (not saying the best teams don't work their ***es off). So far I've found a VERY strong correlation between the best teams, and apparent wealth of the county they are in. While I don't think that wealth and population are what causes teams to win, I think that they can certainly increase the POTENTIAL to win. This is common sense. My problem with this event is that larger and more funded teams have a much higher POTENTIAL to do well, over events like Digital Structures and Mechatronics. The buy in cost is inherently high, and building a custom robot gets very pricey unless you know EXACTLY what you need.

If you read all of that, thank you for your time, and I hope I made a little sense (this is something I'm very passionate about, as are some other community members) with my long-winded rant.
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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by Name » December 25th, 2020, 9:48 pm

I think it's really interesting how diverse the opposition against this event is compared to how the only people pushing for this event are from Solon. Just my two cents.
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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by CPScienceDude » December 25th, 2020, 9:56 pm

It's a really cool event in concept, but it just wouldn't be equitable in practice.
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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by sciolyperson1 » December 25th, 2020, 10:36 pm

CPScienceDude wrote:
December 25th, 2020, 9:56 pm
It's a really cool event in concept, but it just wouldn't be equitable in practice.
I think this summarizes it really well; it's a great concept and idea with well written, creative rules, but just doesn't keep certain disadvantaged teams in mind.
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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by jaspattack » December 25th, 2020, 10:40 pm

I don't think there's much I have to add that hasn't been said already. While I understand that there are events like Wright Stuff and Gravity Vehicle that might have a high barrier for entry, the response to that is not to say "These events work, why couldn't we do something less equitable?". If anything, we should be making all of the events more accessible for all students - Science Olympiad is for everyone, not just the ones who can pay for medals.

As far as I see it, throwing more money at an event has never been a way to win. I'll take Wright Stuff as an example, since I competed in the event for a few years. I was put on it as a replacement, since the only person who wanted to do it dropped out and I was mostly up for anything. I actually ended up using multiple kits that year from a few undisclosed retailers. The retailers and the money we spent on that season ultimately don't matter, because I didn't place with that plane. I didn't even come close - 13th place in a state that's not competitive at all once you leave the top 5.

However, what does help you win is effort. There are plenty of ways to integrate robotics engineering with Science Olympiad without introducing such a high level of inequity to the competition. I'd be curious to see how something like Robot Arm would work in a CAD environment, with students designing and testing devices digitally. These are skills that are in-demand and would encourage students to think about the same concepts, just digitally. Is it a perfect solution? No -- something like that likely wouldn't be completely free (think about SkyCiv licenses) and it might have heavier restraints, but it would certainly cost less than spending however much money on building a physical robot arm. Computer science can be worked into SO in countless other ways - I don't think a fixation on robotics specifically is viable or necessary.

The important thing is targeting events with a high barrier to entry, and figuring out how to make them accessible. With the amount of controversy that events like Robot Tour and Robot Arm have sparked, it's clear that something can be changed to make them more accessible to a wide variety of teams. I don't necessarily know what that is, but I DO think that people often underestimate how unreasonable it is to expect either coaches or students to field the cost of these devices. Even if your team might be able to afford it, it might be the difference between having a team and not having one at all for some. If this event is that big of a deal-breaker, it shouldn't be run, plain and simple.
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CPScienceDude (December 25th, 2020, 10:41 pm) • builderguy135 (December 25th, 2020, 10:42 pm) • Nydauron (December 25th, 2020, 10:42 pm) • Name (December 25th, 2020, 10:44 pm) • BennyTheJett (December 26th, 2020, 7:21 am) • shalubeta (December 26th, 2020, 8:21 am) • HugoTroop (December 26th, 2020, 3:43 pm)
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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by BennyTheJett » December 25th, 2020, 10:44 pm

jaspattack wrote:
December 25th, 2020, 10:40 pm
I don't think there's much I have to add that hasn't been said already. While I understand that there are events like Wright Stuff and Gravity Vehicle that might have a high barrier for entry, the response to that is not to say "These events work, why couldn't we do something less equitable?". If anything, we should be making all of the events more accessible for all students - Science Olympiad is for everyone, not just the ones who can pay for medals.

As far as I see it, throwing more money at an event has never been a way to win. I'll take Wright Stuff as an example, since I competed in the event for a few years. I was put on it as a replacement, since the only person who wanted to do it dropped out and I was mostly up for anything. I actually ended up using multiple kits that year from a few undisclosed retailers. The retailers and the money we spent on that season ultimately don't matter, because I didn't place with that plane. I didn't even come close - 13th place in a state that's not competitive at all once you leave the top 5.

However, what does help you win is effort. There are plenty of ways to integrate robotics engineering with Science Olympiad without introducing such a high level of inequity to the competition. I'd be curious to see how something like Robot Arm would work in a CAD environment, with students designing and testing devices digitally. These are skills that are in-demand and would encourage students to think about the same concepts, just digitally. Is it a perfect solution? No -- something like that likely wouldn't be completely free (think about SkyCiv licenses) and it might have heavier restraints, but it would certainly cost less than spending however much money on building a physical robot arm. Computer science can be worked into SO in countless other ways - I don't think a fixation on robotics specifically is viable or necessary.

The important thing is targeting events with a high barrier to entry, and figuring out how to make them accessible. With the amount of controversy that events like Robot Tour and Robot Arm have sparked, it's clear that something can be changed to make them more accessible to a wide variety of teams. I don't necessarily know what that is, but I DO think that people often underestimate how unreasonable it is to expect either coaches or students to field the cost of these devices. Even if your team might be able to afford it, it might be the difference between having a team and not having one at all for some. If this event is that big of a deal-breaker, it shouldn't be run, plain and simple.
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Re: Robot Tour C [TRIAL]

Post by shalubeta » December 26th, 2020, 6:42 am

As someone who has competed in Robot Tour at the Belleville invitational, I will firstly say, that my team does is very fortunate to be in the position that they are in with financial aid and that stuff, so I really cannot talk about the cost that much for this event, and how it impacted my time preparing for it. The main thing that I have an issue with this event is about the kits, and how it is very kit dependent during covid. My family is very strict about what we do during these times, and I rarely even leave the house. Every time we get a package it needs to sit in the garage or in the sun for at least 3 weeks, and most times its even more than that(if its not something like groceries). I first learned about the robot tour around 2 weeks before the tournament, and I knew there was no way I could get the individual parts for this event because it is very comprehensive, and the rules are pretty vague about it. I didn't even know kits existed 'till there was a week left before the tournament, and it was already too late. However, when looking at the kits and they were 65 dollars for the CHEAPEST one, that really gave me concerns on the direction of the event. Not to mention that for miniSO you have to print the track, which I can definitely see hurting a lot of teams. However, as previous people have mentioned, the event has a good concept, and I have to agree with this. robotics events in general for scioly DO make it more equitable than the alternative which is to spend a whole lot MORE money for a robotics-centered competition. It's always good to implement robotics events. Robots and automated technology are soon becoming an essential part of society. However, robotics events(That were trials), like Mechatronics have received far greater support and more participation has been in this event. Before nationals got canceled, I was scheduled to be an alternate, and Amazing Mechatronics soon became very enjoyable in my eyes-much more than Robot Tour. So, if I were in NSO's position, I would keep having it in mind to be a future event, but also consider other events as well. Maybe even have them run at the same time, and then you could see how much support and participation each are getting in comparison to each other.

That's just my take on this situation.
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