Sign Task

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Sign Task

Postby Jim_R » September 3rd, 2010, 1:22 pm

Discussion for the Sign Task.
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old
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Bad task

Postby old » September 13th, 2010, 12:33 pm

I already posted something about this elsewhere, but I think the balloon raising the sign task is a bad idea. We all saw years ago how random the results of balloon race were. Generally the teams with the best builders and lab event performances did no better (often worse) then those who were poor at those things. The problem is that uncontrolled environmental factors tend to overwhelm the controllable variables. You could measure the buoyancy to 0.01 gram and cut your ballast to a similar number of significant figures but in the end if you didn't want to get second tiered you had to throw in a huge fudge factor for uncontrolled variables (wind, thermal effects, static charges, HVAC system effects, people walking by, etc.). There was no way to distinguish oneself in that event, rather you could just play it very safe so as not to be bottom of the barrel. This was like the uncontrolled effects on bottle rocket or trajectory/ Storm the Castle (when done outside) only multiplied by 100. At nationals they eventually came up with an enclosure that at least minimized the environmental factors somewhat (although I still saw balloons that first began to rise and then reversed direction, or the opposite), but with Mission there will be no practical way to stop the air currents from A/C, spectators and judges moving around, doors opening and closing, thermal generated air currents from the device itself and lights, static charges on the balloon and the surroundings, etc. I don't know how these rules are made but this was a bad one. It would seem fairly obvious to anyone looking at this event as a scientific experiment, that the uncontrolled variables were going to play a huge roll in the outcome, and this is Science Olympiad not some silly game show.

Maybe I am wrong about this but could someone try to explain how one would do the flag raising in a way that would be independent of these uncontrolled variables?

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Re: Sign Task

Postby Dark Sabre » September 13th, 2010, 2:23 pm

I would say that you are right that there are all of those variables that are not something the competitors can control, but unlike Balloon Race, the most important variable is something the competitors can control: balloon capacity.

In Balloon Race you had a bunch of people with supervisor-provided balloons and the scientific effort was in shaving tenths of a gram off of paper which, as you noted, didn't necessarily result in a good placing strategy.

In this task, you can choose what size/shape balloon you want based on how you engineer and organize all of your other tasks. If you optimize your layout very well and don't use much volume for all of the other transfers, then you get to use a larger balloon. Even with people leaving some safety factor to account for environmental effects, there will be balloons with a wide variety of lifting capacities. In my mind, that means the amount of weight that they can lift and therefor the amount of points that they get depends significantly more on how they chose to design their mission and size their balloon than on the safety factor that they are comfortable with.

The trade-off I see in choosing load size is that if you play too close to the edge, you may lose some timing accuracy if the balloon doesn't rise as swiftly as expected, but you will get more points from the load weight. If you choose a load with a more significant safety factor, you can hit the time more accurately, but don't get the theoretical maximum for load points.

You may disagree, but I think that the ability to control your own balloon size is a lot more significant than the uncontrollable variables.

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Re: Sign Task

Postby rocketchicka » October 20th, 2010, 7:38 am

I looked at the rules and I was thinking, "Where am I going to put this balloon???" That's going to take up so much space.....and i'm a little nervous about leaving an inflated balloon in the same vacinity of potentialy sharp objects for a long period of time. All that balloon has to do is get a breeze on it and blow into the way of my other tasks or the pointy end of a screw that I used to put it all together and then there's a hole. You could tie it down to prevent that problem but when you release it, on its way up it could still bump against something and pop.
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Re: Sign Task

Postby C4 » November 28th, 2010, 5:36 pm

Does anyone have an idea of what would provide a better lift for the sign? A Latex Balloon or an Aluminum Foil balloon?
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Re: Sign Task

Postby Primate » November 28th, 2010, 7:18 pm

Does anyone have an idea of what would provide a better lift for the sign? A Latex Balloon or an Aluminum Foil balloon?
It just depends on how much helium is in the balloon; I don't think the differences are significant. However, you probably want to go with the foil balloons--they last much, much longer, and can even be refilled.
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Re: Sign Task

Postby C4 » November 28th, 2010, 7:44 pm

Does anyone have an idea of what would provide a better lift for the sign? A Latex Balloon or an Aluminum Foil balloon?
It just depends on how much helium is in the balloon; I don't think the differences are significant. However, you probably want to go with the foil balloons--they last much, much longer, and can even be refilled.
That's very true. Last competition, our Latex Balloon popped during set up. It was thanks to another team's coach handing us their spare balloon that we didn't get totally screwed over.

Anyways, that's a very good reason for our school to invest in one then.
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Re: Sign Task

Postby quizbowl » November 29th, 2010, 12:25 pm

Just make sure to bring spare ones and IMPOUND them. and do so with any breakable removable part just in case. Last year, we brought a spare something (cant remember) and we needed it cause the original broke while impounding, but we never impounded...
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Re: Sign Task

Postby paronomasia » December 2nd, 2010, 9:55 pm

Would anything besides the amount of helium in the balloon affect how heavy the sign could be?

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Re: Sign Task

Postby penclspinner » December 3rd, 2010, 7:33 am

Would anything besides the amount of helium in the balloon affect how heavy the sign could be?
The mass of the balloon?


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