Difference between revisions of "Write It Do It"

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==Overview==
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{{EventLinksBox
The event description for Write it, Do it has been the same for many years. At the C level, it's done in teams of two. One team member is given a structure built from some sort of construction materials, which may be anything from toys (like legos) to craft materials (popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners) to lab equipment. That team member has 23 minutes in which to examine the structure, without touching it, and write instructions for how to build it. Writers are not allowed to use drawings or symbols, (aka:only letters) and must define all abbreviations. Then the other team member is given the instructions and a set of unassembled parts, and has 20 minutes to try and recreate the original structure as accurately as possible. Scoring is based on the number of correct connections.  
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|2018thread=[https://scioly.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=264&t=10873 2018]
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|2019thread=[https://scioly.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=284&t=12233 2019]
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|B Champion=Kennedy Middle School
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|C Champion=Mounds View High School
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|2ndBName=Kennedy Middle School
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|3rdBName=Kealing Middle School
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|2ndCName=Seven Lakes High School
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|3rdCName=Pioneer High School
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|WebsiteB=https://www.soinc.org/write-it-do-it-b
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|WebsiteC=https://www.soinc.org/write-it-do-it-c
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}}
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'''Write It Do It''' is a [[Division B]] and [[Division C]] that has been run nationally for many years. In the event, one team member ("writer") is given a structure built from some sort of construction materials; the same member then writes a set of instructions on how to build it. The other team member ("doer") is given the instructions written by their teammate and a set of unassembled materials to attempt to recreate the object as accurately as possible.
  
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==Objective==
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The object given can be made of virtually anything from toys to craft materials to lab equipment. The first team member (often referred to as "the writer") is given 25 minutes to write instructions, and the second team member (often referred to as "the doer" or "the builder") is given 20 minutes to build from their writer's instructions.
  
==Strategy==
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The writer can use any numbers or symbols. The writer cannot use pictures or diagrams or the team will be disqualified. Note that for the 2016 season and beyond abbreviations no longer need to be defined.
There are lots of different ways to approach this event. The important thing is to find something that works for you and your partner. You may want to sit down together and talk about terms you might use in your descriptions, and what they mean - for instance, will you define "directions" in your writing as absolute (east is always east) or relative to the structure (the front is always the same part, even if it is facing away from you)? Defining some general rules that you can then assume without having to write them down may be helpful, but you should beware of making too many rules - you may find yourself spending a lot of your precious writing time telling your teammate to disregard them!  
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The doer is given a set of unassembled materials to work from. This set may or may not include replacement or extra materials, so beware and do not break anything!
  
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Scoring is based on the number of correct connections relative to the object. Although scoring is subjective and varies by event supervisor, a common scoring method is 1 point for presence, 1 point for location, and 1 for orientation.
  
You should also come up with some standard way of describing characteristics of building materials. For instance, what will you call the little buttons on the tops of lego pieces? Be careful not to have the same word for two different things, as that can be very confusing for the person building! You will probably find that some abbreviations are particularly useful to have, such as words and terms for different colors, sizes, shapes, lengths, and so forth. (Of course, some of these will be dependent on your building materials, and some won't.) Words like "piece" and "attach" are also good candidates for abbreviation. You may use a lot of abbreviations or just a few depending on how systematic your approach is. (Do remember you must list all abbreviations at the top of your paper during the event, so if you have to many, you may waste too much of your time writing abbreviations. Sometimes writing full words fast is a good option, but keep it NEAT!!!)
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Ties are broken by the time taken by the doer to build the object. This tiebreaker is often very important, especially with easier models where many teams finish with perfect or near perfect scores.
  
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Note: as of 2016, a rule change has been made so that abbreviations no longer need to be defined, unlike previous years.
  
Bear in mind that this is a very subjective event, and a lot of the interpretation is left up to the people running it. Both partners should ask the event runners about their specific scoring style, as you will find it varies greatly from competition to competition. For instance, at the 99 nationals, the scorers viewed the structures in layers, starting from the bottom up. As soon as a layer was wrong, they stopped scoring, because they considered all the connections above that layer to be incorrect. Knowing things like this might affect the way you budget your time or how much attention you pay to detail. And even if they don't want to answer your questions, it can't hurt to ask - that way you won't end up later thinking "if only I had known!"
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==Strategy==
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There are many different ways to approach this event. It is important to find a strategy that works best for the team.  
  
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===Practice===
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The key to this event is practice. It is advised to practice both writing and doing to identify certain good and bad elements of each partner's performance. Through practice, it will become apparent who is the better 'writer' and who is the better 'doer.' Another good strategy for preparation is to come up with a set of terms that both partners can follow. Coming up and practicing with abbreviations for words frequently used will make communication more efficient.
  
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===Developing Common Rules===
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Partners may want to develop a set of "rules" for writing as they practice. This may include terminology for describing the relative positions of the structure or a "directional" system to describe the direction which certain pieces point or face.
  
Some sample strategies you may wish to employ are given below to help get you started. This is by no means a complete list of ways to approach this event, but rather methods that have been tried and tested.  Most have won medals at the national competition in both divisions B and C.
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However, it is very important that these rules are ''general'' in nature. Excessively complicated or specific rule systems may confuse you or your partner and ''may also be interpreted as 'code' by event supervisors''. As this is a highly subjective event, teams should avoid the suspicion of event supervisors.
  
1.  Decide how to approach the horizontal plane, as well as the vertical plane.  For instance, for objects all on the same level (horizontal plane), you may choose to use North/South/East/West.  If using this system, it is highly advised to divide your grid into sixteenths.  That is, rather than just simply N or W, use NNW or WSW.  This yields a much higher degree of accuracy on the placement of tricky pieces.  Another method is the compass.  Decide, for instance, that 0 degrees is as far away from the builder as possible.  Then, going clockwise, count up to 359 degrees.  So, for instance, an object to the south west of another would be at approximately 225 degrees.  This provides for very very accurate measurements, assuming both you and your partner have the same perspective, and both know how to count to 360 (harder than it sounds sometimes).  The third commonly used reference frame for objects is the clock face.  Far away from you is 12:00 and work your way around.  So an object to the south west of another one would be maybe 7:30 (rather than going to the nearest hour, an object can sometimes be in between.  Therefore you may wish to go to quarter hours.  That is, 3:15 would be 1/4 of the way between 3:00 and 4:00.)
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===Describing Objects===
  
2.  The second important thing is to come up with a standard set of definitions for everything. Make sure you know what to call everything.  And if you encounter something new in competition, pick a name that makes is obvious what you're referring to.  Preferably a short one that doesn't take long to write repeatedly.
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Coming up with standard or easy (but not code-like) ways of describing characteristics of building materials is recommended. For instance, what will the little buttons on the tops of Lego pieces be called? Avoid using the same word for two different things, as that can be very confusing for the person building!
  
3. The next key is figuring out distances with your partner.  As much as I would love it to be so, the things at competition will most likely not all be in one fluid piece all connected together. Therefore, you're going to have to know how to describe a piece that's out making its own island away from the main structure.  We've already covered the relative angle part in step 1.  But saying something is 80 degrees (ENE; 2:30) from another object, really doesn't do you much good.  UNITS are always important!  A foot away?  Across the room?  How far?  This is where it gets interesting between you and your partner.  You can always stick to standard measurements. I recommend cm, because they're Metric and spaced nicely for estimations.  Remember to define 'cm' as an abbreviation if you use it though!  The key to this though is making sure you and your partner can estimate lengths the same. It doesn't matter if you're both accurate, you just have to be consistently equally wrong!!  This in itself requires some practice.  However, I found an easier way, and one that's more consistent.  Get together with your partner.  Grab his or her hand... and compare them.  Everyone has probably a ton of various length on your finger joints.  For instance, the third knuckle to the tip of your middle finger may be exactly the same length as the third knuckle to tip of your partner's pinky!  Just find two joints on your hands that are as close to exactly the same length as possible.  Then, when you're writing, you can use that as your standard.  Count off and, for instance, that lego is 3.5 joints away from the set of K'nex.  Just remember which you're supposed to be measuring with.  The key here is to have steady hands... at least steady enough to make sure you don't actually touch the structure when you're writing.  You can always guesstimate by hovering your hand a little above the table rather than touch it and risk a DQ.
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'''Define Directions'''. Decide how to approach the horizontal plane, as well as the vertical plane. For instance, for objects all on the same level (horizontal plane), teams may choose to use North/South/East/West. When using this system, it is highly advised to divide the grid into sixteenths. That is, rather than just simply N or W, use NNW or WSW. This yields a much higher degree of accuracy on the placement of tricky pieces.
  
4. This fourth idea is possibly the most SECRETIVE in the event, so pay attention.  It's one that's not always obvious, but will save you a LOT of time when writing.  Go back and read the rules.  You can't use abbreviations.  You can't use secret symbols.  It says nothing about proper grammar.  Put your IM and texting skills to good use. Don't use any words that aren't necessary.  For instance, rather than saying "Place a long gray K'nex piece vertically on the table in the 12:00 - 6:00 position."  Think about "Gray stick 12:00-6:00"  Conveys exactly the same idea, your partner will understand (especially after practicing), and you just save a ton of time writing. The key here is figuring out what is necessary to include and what is fluff you can remove without confusing your partner or leaving out key descriptions. Here could be a description though:
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Another method uses the compass. Decide, for instance, that 0 degrees is as far away from the builder as possible. Then, going clockwise, count up to 359 degrees. So, for instance, an object to the southwest of another would be at approximately 225 degrees. This provides very accurate measurements, assuming both you and your partner have the same perspective, and both know how to count to 360 (harder than it sounds sometimes). Partners can develop similar perspectives by drawing different angle measures and comparing them.
  
White K'nex piece flat on table. Out of 12:00 slot gray stick, 4:30 - red stick, 9:00 - white stick. Connected on other end of gray stick, red piece, extra slots on left. From middle slot in red piece, another gray stick coming out at 7:30.
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The third commonly used reference frame for objects is the clock face. For example, the point farthest from a person is 12:00 and the point closest is 6:00, going clockwise. So an object to the southwest of another one would be maybe 7:30 (rather than going to the nearest hour, an object can sometimes be in between. Quarter hours can also be used; that is, 3:15 would be 1/4 of the way between 3:00 and 4:00.)
  
Basically, the lesson you should get is, don't worry about proper grammar. You can't abbreviate words, but you CAN completely omit words you don't need.  Save yourself as much time as possible.  You'd be amazed at how much time you can save with such a simple concept.
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When using these methods, make sure to specify whether the writer is talking about the horizontal plane or the vertical plane. If the writer says, for example, "Put red stick pointing 10:00", the doer does not know whether to put it on the base or make it stand up pointing to 10:00.  
  
==Practice!==
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'''Make standard definitions'''. The second important thing is to come up with a standard set of definitions for everything. Make sure to know what to call everything. And if something new is encountered in competition, pick a name that makes it obvious what is being referred to - preferably use a short name that does not take long to write repeatedly.
The absolute best way to prepare for this event is to practice - a lot. Fortunately, this is usually a lot of fun. The first thing to do is find a bunch of practice materials. See if you or anyone on your team has building toys. Things like legos, tinkertoys, lincoln logs, construx, googleplex, k'nex and the like that are good. If you have a budget, go shopping (although most people sometime in their life played with things like this)! Try to find things that have different ways of fitting together (aka: connects! they connect in some crazy ways man!). You can also use things you find around a science classroom, such as molecule builder sets. Try things like toothpicks and jellybeans, too; if you can write good instructions for them, you're in pretty good shape. Challenge yourself!
 
  
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'''Learn to measure distances'''. The next key is figuring out distances. The things at the competition will most likely not all be in one fluid piece all connected together. Therefore, it is important to know how to describe a piece that's out making its own island away from the main structure. When defining distances, units are important! This is where it gets interesting between you and your partner. The key to this is making sure both partners can estimate lengths the same. It does not matter if you are both accurate; you just have to be consistently equally wrong! This in itself requires some practice. To avoid confusion, it is recommended that writers pick one unit of length measurement and stay with it.
  
Once you have a stash of building materials, practice as often as possible. Find another teammate or someone to build for you. (Before you start, make sure you have duplicates of every piece used in the construction.) If it's your first time, you might want to start small, with perhaps no more than twenty pieces. Try find a quiet, secluded place to do your practice runs. You should keep the original construction and compare it to the one you and your teammate produce. Go over the written instructions together, and find places that were unclear or misleading. Talk about what the directions meant and how you interpreted them. If you were writing, describe your thought process and which things you were unsure about. If you were building, be sure to mention any problems you encountered following the directions - did your structure fall apart repeatedly? Did you find yourself trying to make the pieces do something physically impossible?
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There is an easy way to measure consistent distances. Take your partner's hand, and compare it with your hand. Everyone probably has various lengths in finger joints. For instance, the third knuckle to the tip of the middle finger may be exactly the same length as the third knuckle to the tip of someone else's pinky! Just find two joints that are as close to exactly the same length as possible. When competing, use the length of the finger joints to measure distances. Avoid using fingers as units, as it may come off as a code (not everyone's fingers are the same length)!
  
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===Abbreviations===
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You will probably find that some abbreviations are particularly useful to have, such as words and terms for different colors, sizes, shapes, and lengths. For example, common phrases that are used are "horizontally flat" (lay the item flat on the table, horizontally) or "vertically standing" (make the object stand tall and vertical). Words like "piece" and "attach" are also good candidates for abbreviation. It is a good idea to make abbreviations for the materials mentioned multiple times. Shortcuts like this might save the writer 5-10 minutes. (Note that some of these will be dependent on your building materials and some will not.)
  
You should try and practice as many different ways as possible. Even if you know who will be writing and who will be doing, you should take turns practicing each different role. It really helps if you understand both parts of the process. (Plus it's fun!) On most runs you should stick exactly to the given times, so you learn how to work against the clock. However, if you find yourself consistently running out of time, do a few practices where you just work until you finish, no matter how long it takes you. Then you can work on cutting your time down. Work with all the different materials you can find. It's always nice when you get to the competition and your structure is made out of something you've already worked with before, but if it's something completely new you'll be better equipped to handle it if you've practiced with diverse materials. You might even try working with more than one type of material at once. At that same 99 national olympiad, the main structure was made of legos (mostly itty bitty legos), but it also had a bunch of little plastic toys incorporated into it. Practice writing on lined paper and unlined paper (you never know what they'll give you, and not all judges will let you bring your own paper). Work under different conditions - sitting at a desk, standing at a lab bench, and so forth. Practice not touching the structure while you write. You might have to share it with other writers! If you need to get a different perspective, walk around it and look at it from the other side. It will be very helpful to you if you learn to visualize the object from different angles without actually moving it around yourself.  
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It is easier and faster to write two words than a whole sentence. So abbreviating whole sentences is also a good idea. Instead of saying "place the yellow cube horizontally flat on the table," say "yellow cube horizontal on table."
  
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A lot of abbreviations or just a few might be used, depending on how systematic the approach is. Note that if too many abbreviations are used, too much time may be wasted writing abbreviations. Sometimes writing full words fast is a good option, but be sure to keep it neat.
  
Once you find that you and your teammate are consistently doing well and producing structures that are identical or nearly so to the originals, find ways to make things harder. Add more pieces. Ask the people building for you to make them as complicated and asymmetrical as possible. Have them build so that you have pieces in more than just two or three different planes. When you separate your pieces into two sets, add some extra ones to the set that will be used for doing. Get your builders to work in trick pieces - one of the most common (and deceptive!) tricks with legos is to use several pieces of the same color together so that they look like a single lego brick. You don't have any advantage for finishing your writing early, so you should always use the entire twenty five minutes. If you finish early, go back and check and make sure you didn't write anything you didn't mean. However, time can be used as a tiebreaker in the doing section. If you and another team have the same number of correct connections, the team that finished building first gets a better score. So, try and work as fast as you can without sacrificing accuracy.  
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Abbreviations such as ''tlc'' for top left corner, ''trc'' for top right corner, ''blc'' for bottom left corner, and ''brc'' for bottom right corner are also commonly used in writing.
  
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'''Use improper grammar'''. This idea is possibly the most secretive in the event, so pay attention. It is one that's not always obvious but will save a LOT of time when writing. Go back and read the rules. You can't use odd symbols or code. But it says nothing about proper grammar. Put instant messaging and texting skills to good use. Do not use any words that aren't necessary. For instance, rather than saying "Place a long gray K'nex piece vertically on the table in the 12:00 - 6:00 position," think about saying "Gray stick 12:00-6:00" This conveys exactly the same idea, your partner will understand (especially after practicing), and you can save a ton of time writing. The key here is figuring out what is necessary to include and what is fluff that can be removed without confusing the doer or leaving out key descriptions. This could be a description of an object:
  
Most of all, have fun. This event is one of the absolute best ones to prepare for - you get to play with toys! And the more you practice, the more you'll feel confident in both yourself and your partner.  
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''White K'nex piece flat on table. Out of 12:00 slot gray stick, 4:30 - red stick, 9:00 - white stick. Connected on other end of gray stick, red piece, extra slots on left. From middle slot in red piece, another gray stick coming out at 7:30.''
  
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===Know the Event Supervisor===
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Bear in mind that this is a very subjective event, and a lot of the interpretation is left up to the people running it. Both partners should ask the event runners about their specific scoring style, as it varies greatly from competition to competition. For instance, at the 1999 National Tournament, the scorers viewed the structures in layers, starting from the bottom up. As soon as a layer was wrong, they stopped scoring, because they considered all the connections above that layer to be incorrect. Knowing things like this might affect the way time is budgeted or how much attention is put into details. And even if they do not want to answer questions about scoring, it will not hurt to ask - that way you will not end up later thinking, "If only I had known..."
  
REMEMBER: PRACTICE IS CRUCIAL!!! TRY EVERYTHING THE COMPETITIONS CAN THROW AT YOU
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===Other Tips===
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'''Write as much as possible'''. A good idea time-wise is to spend the whole time writing because the time of the writer does not matter. Only the time of the doer matters, so spend any remaining time checking and re-checking, clarifying, etc. Make lists of everything included so the builder knows if anything was included with the materials that weren't in the original model. Reread instructions again and clarify everything and anything that might come across as meaning something else. More often than not, the doer will not get to these, but you can never be one hundred percent sure and it might be that one sentence which saves you points. The doer should also not rush, but if it is easy, he/she should try to go fast while avoiding mistakes.
  
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'''Start simple'''. Before you even start writing, take a breath. Many builds may look more complex and challenging to describe than they actually are. If the build still looks impossible to write about, start somewhere simple and work to the harder areas. Similarly, if something requires multiple steps to build, start simply. For example, say you've got a foam cup that's got a pencil stuck into it, but on the pencil are stickers which hold a rubber band in place that itself supports another part of the model. Sounds complicated, right? Write the other part of the build, note you will be returning to it later, and move on. Breaking down builds into smaller pieces and staying focused help reduce stress!
  
'''
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==Practice==
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===Materials===
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First and foremost, find a wide variety of materials to use. Commercial sets such as Legos, Tinkertoys, K'nex, and many others are common materials used in structures seen at competitions. In addition, craft materials are used often - some states (Colorado, for example) use nothing else. Some frequently used materials include styrofoam/floral foam, tacks, straws, fake flowers, bent paper clips, pipe cleaners, stickers, string, beads, CDs, toothpicks, clothespins, cups, brads etc. While this list includes many different materials, be prepared to see anything on the structures at competition, and know what to call them (for example, if one partner calls something "cotton buds" and the other calls it "Q-tips", this could become a communication issue). Shopping for materials may be necessary, in order to get a good variety, but many different objects used can be found in most houses. Try to find things that can fit together in different positions and with different angles (e.g. K'nex). Things found around a science classroom, such as molecule model sets, are also good candidates to be found in structures. Some regionals have even used American flags and food items - it is clear that most event supervisors will use anything and everything. When collecting materials, be sure to have at least two of every object so that the structure the writer describes doesn't have to be taken apart. The goal is to be prepared to write good instructions for any materials that might be used.
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===Frequent Practice===
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The absolute best way to prepare for this event is to practice - a lot. Once a stash of building materials has been collected, practice as often as possible. Find another teammate or someone to build the structures. Practicing for the first time can be challenging, so it might be best to start small, with perhaps no more than twenty pieces. Try to find a quiet, secluded place to conduct practice runs. Keep the original construction (or a picture of it) and compare it to the one the builder produces. Teams should go over the written instructions together and find lines that were unclear or misleading. Talk about what the directions meant to the writer and how they were interpreted. The writer should describe their thought process and discuss which things caused confusion. The doer should be sure to mention any problems they encountered following the directions - did the structure fall apart repeatedly? Did what was described seem to call for putting pieces together in a way that didn't make sense?
  
== Past National Competition Materials: ==
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===Varied Practice===
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It is advised to try and practice as many different ways as possible. Even if it is decided who will be writing and who will be doing, each member can further understand both parts of the process by trying the other role. On most runs, stick exactly to the given times, as learning how to work against the clock is essential. However, if consistently running out of time becomes an issue, do a few practices where you just work until you finish, no matter how long it takes. Then, work on cutting the writing/building time down. Work with all the different materials you can find. It is always nice when the structure at competition is made out of something familiar or that was practiced with, but if it is something completely new you'll be better equipped to handle it if you've practiced with diverse materials. Working with more than one type of material at once might be a good idea. At the '99 national Olympiad, the main structure was made of Legos (mostly tiny Legos), but it also had a bunch of little plastic toys incorporated into it. Practice writing on lined paper and unlined paper (the Event Supervisors could give you either one, and not all ES's will let you bring your own paper). Work under different conditions - sitting at a desk, standing at a lab bench, and so forth. Practice not touching the structure while writing because one structure may be shared between multiple writers (and thus touching it might not be allowed). If a different perspective is needed, walk around it and look at it from the other side. It will be very helpful to learn to visualize the object from different angles without actually moving around it, as this might not be possible depending on the competition environment.
  
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Builders may find it helpful to familiarize themselves with different methods of folding, gluing, stabilizing, pinning, taping, and tying knots.
  
Division B'''
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===Practice Communicating===
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Try an oral practice. Put up a screen between the writer and doer. Give the writer a model and the doer the parts.. Have the writer describe to the doer how to build the model. The doer should feel free to talk back. It helps work out problems with clarity.
  
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===Practicing Harder Models===
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Once you find that you and your teammate are consistently doing well and producing structures that are identical or nearly so to the originals, find ways to make things harder. Add more pieces. Ask the people building the structures to make them as complicated and asymmetrical as possible. Have them build so that the pieces are in more than just two or three different planes. When the pieces are separated into two sets, add some extra ones to the set that will be used for doing. The people building the structures should try to work in trick pieces - one of the most common (and deceptive!) tricks with Legos is to use several pieces of the same color together so that they look like a single Lego brick. There is not an advantage for finishing your writing early, so going back and checking to make sure you didn't write anything you didn't mean is helpful. Also, leave some space so adding in additional information is possible if needed. This can be very helpful for the doer. Unlike in the writing, time can be used as a tiebreaker in the doing section. If you and another team have the same number of correct connections, the team that finished building first gets a better score. So, try and work as fast as possible without sacrificing accuracy.
  
2003 Ohio State - K'nex
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===Have Fun===
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Most of all, have fun. This event is considered one of the absolute best ones to prepare for - teams get to play with toys! And with more practice comes more confidence in the event.
  
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==Past National Competition Materials==
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===Division B===
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*[[Ohio State University 2003|2003]] - K'nex
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*[[Wichita State University 2007|2007]] - [[Media:GoogleplexBucket.jpg | Googolplex]] (They are no longer produced; they were mainly a teacher's toy and for some reason more common in Ohio than anywhere else in the US)
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*[[George Washington University 2008|2008]] - [[Media:GoogleplexBucket.jpg | Googolplex]]
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*[[University of Central Florida 2012|2012]] - Craft materials, including coffee strainers, pipe cleaners, and a [[Media:peanut bucket.jpg|paper peanut bucket]]
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*[[University of Central Florida 2014|2014]] - Beads, pipe cleaners, foam "flowers", dowels, wood cutouts, base with evenly spaced holes
  
'''Division C'''
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===Division C===
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*[[Wichita State University 2007|2007]] - [[Media:GoogleplexBucket.jpg | Googolplex]]
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*[[George Washington University 2008|2008]] - K'nex
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*[[University of Illinois 2010|2010]] - Miniature PVC and copper pipes
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*[[University of Wisconsin 2011|2011]] - Assorted materials, including K'nex, bendy straws, index cards, and wheels.
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*[[University of Wisconsin 2016|2016]] - Styrofoam and other assorted materials, including Mini Toobers and related [[Protein Modeling]] materials
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*[[Wright State University 2017|2017]] - A coffee cup lid and other assorted materials, including Mini Toobers and related [[Protein Modeling]] materials
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*[[Colorado State University 2018|2018]] - Various materials, like cotton balls, are placed inside a clear, upside down cup on top of a coffee filter. Assorted materials like toothpicks, Mini Toobers, and related [[Protein Modeling]] materials, and strings are on the outside of the cup.
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*[[Cornell University 2019|2019]] - Many general materials such as feathers, thumbtacks, string, etc are attached to styrofoam bowl. Assorted materials like Q-tips, Mini Toobers, paperclips, and cotton balls were also used.
  
2007 Wichita State - Googolplex (I can't find pictures, the event supervisor said they are Canadian)
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===Test Exchange===
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The [[2017 Test Exchange#Write It Do It|Test Exchange]] also includes many other sample builds not listed above.
  
2008 The George Washington - K'nex
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{{Inquiry Event}}
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{{2021Events}}
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[[Category:Inquiry and Nature of Science Events]]
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[[Category:Event Pages]]
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[[Category:Lab Event Pages]]

Latest revision as of 23:35, 29 June 2020

Write It Do It
This event is an event held in the current season.

Type Inquiry
Category Lab
Event Information
Latest Appearance 2020
Forum Threads
Official Resources
Division B Website soinc.org
Division C Website soinc.org
Division B Results
1st Kennedy Middle School
2nd Kennedy Middle School
3rd Kealing Middle School
Division C Results
1st Mounds View High School
2nd Seven Lakes High School
3rd Pioneer High School

Write It Do It is a Division B and Division C that has been run nationally for many years. In the event, one team member ("writer") is given a structure built from some sort of construction materials; the same member then writes a set of instructions on how to build it. The other team member ("doer") is given the instructions written by their teammate and a set of unassembled materials to attempt to recreate the object as accurately as possible.

Objective

The object given can be made of virtually anything from toys to craft materials to lab equipment. The first team member (often referred to as "the writer") is given 25 minutes to write instructions, and the second team member (often referred to as "the doer" or "the builder") is given 20 minutes to build from their writer's instructions.

The writer can use any numbers or symbols. The writer cannot use pictures or diagrams or the team will be disqualified. Note that for the 2016 season and beyond abbreviations no longer need to be defined.

The doer is given a set of unassembled materials to work from. This set may or may not include replacement or extra materials, so beware and do not break anything!

Scoring is based on the number of correct connections relative to the object. Although scoring is subjective and varies by event supervisor, a common scoring method is 1 point for presence, 1 point for location, and 1 for orientation.

Ties are broken by the time taken by the doer to build the object. This tiebreaker is often very important, especially with easier models where many teams finish with perfect or near perfect scores.

Note: as of 2016, a rule change has been made so that abbreviations no longer need to be defined, unlike previous years.

Strategy

There are many different ways to approach this event. It is important to find a strategy that works best for the team.

Practice

The key to this event is practice. It is advised to practice both writing and doing to identify certain good and bad elements of each partner's performance. Through practice, it will become apparent who is the better 'writer' and who is the better 'doer.' Another good strategy for preparation is to come up with a set of terms that both partners can follow. Coming up and practicing with abbreviations for words frequently used will make communication more efficient.

Developing Common Rules

Partners may want to develop a set of "rules" for writing as they practice. This may include terminology for describing the relative positions of the structure or a "directional" system to describe the direction which certain pieces point or face.

However, it is very important that these rules are general in nature. Excessively complicated or specific rule systems may confuse you or your partner and may also be interpreted as 'code' by event supervisors. As this is a highly subjective event, teams should avoid the suspicion of event supervisors.

Describing Objects

Coming up with standard or easy (but not code-like) ways of describing characteristics of building materials is recommended. For instance, what will the little buttons on the tops of Lego pieces be called? Avoid using the same word for two different things, as that can be very confusing for the person building!

Define Directions. Decide how to approach the horizontal plane, as well as the vertical plane. For instance, for objects all on the same level (horizontal plane), teams may choose to use North/South/East/West. When using this system, it is highly advised to divide the grid into sixteenths. That is, rather than just simply N or W, use NNW or WSW. This yields a much higher degree of accuracy on the placement of tricky pieces.

Another method uses the compass. Decide, for instance, that 0 degrees is as far away from the builder as possible. Then, going clockwise, count up to 359 degrees. So, for instance, an object to the southwest of another would be at approximately 225 degrees. This provides very accurate measurements, assuming both you and your partner have the same perspective, and both know how to count to 360 (harder than it sounds sometimes). Partners can develop similar perspectives by drawing different angle measures and comparing them.

The third commonly used reference frame for objects is the clock face. For example, the point farthest from a person is 12:00 and the point closest is 6:00, going clockwise. So an object to the southwest of another one would be maybe 7:30 (rather than going to the nearest hour, an object can sometimes be in between. Quarter hours can also be used; that is, 3:15 would be 1/4 of the way between 3:00 and 4:00.)

When using these methods, make sure to specify whether the writer is talking about the horizontal plane or the vertical plane. If the writer says, for example, "Put red stick pointing 10:00", the doer does not know whether to put it on the base or make it stand up pointing to 10:00.

Make standard definitions. The second important thing is to come up with a standard set of definitions for everything. Make sure to know what to call everything. And if something new is encountered in competition, pick a name that makes it obvious what is being referred to - preferably use a short name that does not take long to write repeatedly.

Learn to measure distances. The next key is figuring out distances. The things at the competition will most likely not all be in one fluid piece all connected together. Therefore, it is important to know how to describe a piece that's out making its own island away from the main structure. When defining distances, units are important! This is where it gets interesting between you and your partner. The key to this is making sure both partners can estimate lengths the same. It does not matter if you are both accurate; you just have to be consistently equally wrong! This in itself requires some practice. To avoid confusion, it is recommended that writers pick one unit of length measurement and stay with it.

There is an easy way to measure consistent distances. Take your partner's hand, and compare it with your hand. Everyone probably has various lengths in finger joints. For instance, the third knuckle to the tip of the middle finger may be exactly the same length as the third knuckle to the tip of someone else's pinky! Just find two joints that are as close to exactly the same length as possible. When competing, use the length of the finger joints to measure distances. Avoid using fingers as units, as it may come off as a code (not everyone's fingers are the same length)!

Abbreviations

You will probably find that some abbreviations are particularly useful to have, such as words and terms for different colors, sizes, shapes, and lengths. For example, common phrases that are used are "horizontally flat" (lay the item flat on the table, horizontally) or "vertically standing" (make the object stand tall and vertical). Words like "piece" and "attach" are also good candidates for abbreviation. It is a good idea to make abbreviations for the materials mentioned multiple times. Shortcuts like this might save the writer 5-10 minutes. (Note that some of these will be dependent on your building materials and some will not.)

It is easier and faster to write two words than a whole sentence. So abbreviating whole sentences is also a good idea. Instead of saying "place the yellow cube horizontally flat on the table," say "yellow cube horizontal on table."

A lot of abbreviations or just a few might be used, depending on how systematic the approach is. Note that if too many abbreviations are used, too much time may be wasted writing abbreviations. Sometimes writing full words fast is a good option, but be sure to keep it neat.

Abbreviations such as tlc for top left corner, trc for top right corner, blc for bottom left corner, and brc for bottom right corner are also commonly used in writing.

Use improper grammar. This idea is possibly the most secretive in the event, so pay attention. It is one that's not always obvious but will save a LOT of time when writing. Go back and read the rules. You can't use odd symbols or code. But it says nothing about proper grammar. Put instant messaging and texting skills to good use. Do not use any words that aren't necessary. For instance, rather than saying "Place a long gray K'nex piece vertically on the table in the 12:00 - 6:00 position," think about saying "Gray stick 12:00-6:00" This conveys exactly the same idea, your partner will understand (especially after practicing), and you can save a ton of time writing. The key here is figuring out what is necessary to include and what is fluff that can be removed without confusing the doer or leaving out key descriptions. This could be a description of an object:

White K'nex piece flat on table. Out of 12:00 slot gray stick, 4:30 - red stick, 9:00 - white stick. Connected on other end of gray stick, red piece, extra slots on left. From middle slot in red piece, another gray stick coming out at 7:30.

Know the Event Supervisor

Bear in mind that this is a very subjective event, and a lot of the interpretation is left up to the people running it. Both partners should ask the event runners about their specific scoring style, as it varies greatly from competition to competition. For instance, at the 1999 National Tournament, the scorers viewed the structures in layers, starting from the bottom up. As soon as a layer was wrong, they stopped scoring, because they considered all the connections above that layer to be incorrect. Knowing things like this might affect the way time is budgeted or how much attention is put into details. And even if they do not want to answer questions about scoring, it will not hurt to ask - that way you will not end up later thinking, "If only I had known..."

Other Tips

Write as much as possible. A good idea time-wise is to spend the whole time writing because the time of the writer does not matter. Only the time of the doer matters, so spend any remaining time checking and re-checking, clarifying, etc. Make lists of everything included so the builder knows if anything was included with the materials that weren't in the original model. Reread instructions again and clarify everything and anything that might come across as meaning something else. More often than not, the doer will not get to these, but you can never be one hundred percent sure and it might be that one sentence which saves you points. The doer should also not rush, but if it is easy, he/she should try to go fast while avoiding mistakes.

Start simple. Before you even start writing, take a breath. Many builds may look more complex and challenging to describe than they actually are. If the build still looks impossible to write about, start somewhere simple and work to the harder areas. Similarly, if something requires multiple steps to build, start simply. For example, say you've got a foam cup that's got a pencil stuck into it, but on the pencil are stickers which hold a rubber band in place that itself supports another part of the model. Sounds complicated, right? Write the other part of the build, note you will be returning to it later, and move on. Breaking down builds into smaller pieces and staying focused help reduce stress!

Practice

Materials

First and foremost, find a wide variety of materials to use. Commercial sets such as Legos, Tinkertoys, K'nex, and many others are common materials used in structures seen at competitions. In addition, craft materials are used often - some states (Colorado, for example) use nothing else. Some frequently used materials include styrofoam/floral foam, tacks, straws, fake flowers, bent paper clips, pipe cleaners, stickers, string, beads, CDs, toothpicks, clothespins, cups, brads etc. While this list includes many different materials, be prepared to see anything on the structures at competition, and know what to call them (for example, if one partner calls something "cotton buds" and the other calls it "Q-tips", this could become a communication issue). Shopping for materials may be necessary, in order to get a good variety, but many different objects used can be found in most houses. Try to find things that can fit together in different positions and with different angles (e.g. K'nex). Things found around a science classroom, such as molecule model sets, are also good candidates to be found in structures. Some regionals have even used American flags and food items - it is clear that most event supervisors will use anything and everything. When collecting materials, be sure to have at least two of every object so that the structure the writer describes doesn't have to be taken apart. The goal is to be prepared to write good instructions for any materials that might be used.

Frequent Practice

The absolute best way to prepare for this event is to practice - a lot. Once a stash of building materials has been collected, practice as often as possible. Find another teammate or someone to build the structures. Practicing for the first time can be challenging, so it might be best to start small, with perhaps no more than twenty pieces. Try to find a quiet, secluded place to conduct practice runs. Keep the original construction (or a picture of it) and compare it to the one the builder produces. Teams should go over the written instructions together and find lines that were unclear or misleading. Talk about what the directions meant to the writer and how they were interpreted. The writer should describe their thought process and discuss which things caused confusion. The doer should be sure to mention any problems they encountered following the directions - did the structure fall apart repeatedly? Did what was described seem to call for putting pieces together in a way that didn't make sense?

Varied Practice

It is advised to try and practice as many different ways as possible. Even if it is decided who will be writing and who will be doing, each member can further understand both parts of the process by trying the other role. On most runs, stick exactly to the given times, as learning how to work against the clock is essential. However, if consistently running out of time becomes an issue, do a few practices where you just work until you finish, no matter how long it takes. Then, work on cutting the writing/building time down. Work with all the different materials you can find. It is always nice when the structure at competition is made out of something familiar or that was practiced with, but if it is something completely new you'll be better equipped to handle it if you've practiced with diverse materials. Working with more than one type of material at once might be a good idea. At the '99 national Olympiad, the main structure was made of Legos (mostly tiny Legos), but it also had a bunch of little plastic toys incorporated into it. Practice writing on lined paper and unlined paper (the Event Supervisors could give you either one, and not all ES's will let you bring your own paper). Work under different conditions - sitting at a desk, standing at a lab bench, and so forth. Practice not touching the structure while writing because one structure may be shared between multiple writers (and thus touching it might not be allowed). If a different perspective is needed, walk around it and look at it from the other side. It will be very helpful to learn to visualize the object from different angles without actually moving around it, as this might not be possible depending on the competition environment.

Builders may find it helpful to familiarize themselves with different methods of folding, gluing, stabilizing, pinning, taping, and tying knots.

Practice Communicating

Try an oral practice. Put up a screen between the writer and doer. Give the writer a model and the doer the parts.. Have the writer describe to the doer how to build the model. The doer should feel free to talk back. It helps work out problems with clarity.

Practicing Harder Models

Once you find that you and your teammate are consistently doing well and producing structures that are identical or nearly so to the originals, find ways to make things harder. Add more pieces. Ask the people building the structures to make them as complicated and asymmetrical as possible. Have them build so that the pieces are in more than just two or three different planes. When the pieces are separated into two sets, add some extra ones to the set that will be used for doing. The people building the structures should try to work in trick pieces - one of the most common (and deceptive!) tricks with Legos is to use several pieces of the same color together so that they look like a single Lego brick. There is not an advantage for finishing your writing early, so going back and checking to make sure you didn't write anything you didn't mean is helpful. Also, leave some space so adding in additional information is possible if needed. This can be very helpful for the doer. Unlike in the writing, time can be used as a tiebreaker in the doing section. If you and another team have the same number of correct connections, the team that finished building first gets a better score. So, try and work as fast as possible without sacrificing accuracy.

Have Fun

Most of all, have fun. This event is considered one of the absolute best ones to prepare for - teams get to play with toys! And with more practice comes more confidence in the event.

Past National Competition Materials

Division B

  • 2003 - K'nex
  • 2007 - Googolplex (They are no longer produced; they were mainly a teacher's toy and for some reason more common in Ohio than anywhere else in the US)
  • 2008 - Googolplex
  • 2012 - Craft materials, including coffee strainers, pipe cleaners, and a paper peanut bucket
  • 2014 - Beads, pipe cleaners, foam "flowers", dowels, wood cutouts, base with evenly spaced holes

Division C

  • 2007 - Googolplex
  • 2008 - K'nex
  • 2010 - Miniature PVC and copper pipes
  • 2011 - Assorted materials, including K'nex, bendy straws, index cards, and wheels.
  • 2016 - Styrofoam and other assorted materials, including Mini Toobers and related Protein Modeling materials
  • 2017 - A coffee cup lid and other assorted materials, including Mini Toobers and related Protein Modeling materials
  • 2018 - Various materials, like cotton balls, are placed inside a clear, upside down cup on top of a coffee filter. Assorted materials like toothpicks, Mini Toobers, and related Protein Modeling materials, and strings are on the outside of the cup.
  • 2019 - Many general materials such as feathers, thumbtacks, string, etc are attached to styrofoam bowl. Assorted materials like Q-tips, Mini Toobers, paperclips, and cotton balls were also used.

Test Exchange

The Test Exchange also includes many other sample builds not listed above.