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Does it have to be "1 and done"?

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  • Does it have to be "1 and done"?

    Why can't a team compete more than once? I understand economic equity and all, but I'm in an area where there are few tournament hosts, and most only do it for a Qualifier. Even if a team competed and did not win a bid to a regional event, if there are open spaces in other events I am told that you may not enter, even if you agree to not be eligible for a bid because "you had your chance." $300-$400 for a league that only allows for a single elimination competition seems very steep. If the comments on the rubrics are supposed to be constructive criticism, where is the opportunity to improve and do better? 12 months later with an entirely new challenge? My teams have not earned a bid based on merit in the 3 years we've been competing and I was wondering if anyone else out there felt this way.

    David Mankes
    Teams 5571 & 5572
    Coral Springs, FL

  • #2
    Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

    Originally posted by dmankes View Post
    Why can't a team compete more than once?
    Well, because those are the FLL rules. It's kind of like professional football -- people compete in the regular season (FLL Qualifier) to qualify for the playoffs (FLL State Championship). There are other venues in which your team could compete (World Robot Olympiad, for example).

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    • #3
      Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

      It does seem like a big price to pay, but you could do something about it.

      A local school had one competition team and a number of non-competing teams due to a limited number of coaches. Therefore only one team would be going to a qualifier. That is "zero and done".

      Fortunately some of us arranged a scrimmage for all of the local teams (school and non school). A non-competing team came in first place. They loved every minute of their unofficial limelight.

      Why not arrange your own tournament? Or some other creative off-season event that uses the same mission modules?

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      • #4
        Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

        It looks like the FLL regional partner for western part of Florida offers practice tournaments

        Pre-Qualifier / Practice Tournaments
        Practice Tournaments - $50 per team Practice Tournaments allow teams AND coaches to receive verbal and written feedback from the judges about their research project, core values, robot design, and programming. This will not happen at a Qualifying tournament. This type of feedback is invaluable to teams hoping to advance to the championship tournament. The earlier your team receives critical feedback, the more time you'll have to improve.
        That sounds like a great idea. Perhaps you can get the Suncoast FLL people in touch with your local FLL partner, and see if it is possible to start up practice tournaments in your area.

        If not, perhaps you can plan a trip to the gulf coast next season and attend a practice tournament in their region.
        Last edited by timdavid; 01-06-2016, 11:09 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

          Originally posted by cschaffer View Post
          Fortunately some of us arranged a scrimmage for all of the local teams (school and non school). A non-competing team came in first place. They loved every minute of their unofficial limelight.
          +1

          My team has run a local scrimmage for the past couple of years. It's been helpful especially for rookie teams who are in a "no idea what we're doing" state until they see their first scrimmage or tournament.

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          • #6
            Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

            Originally posted by dmankes View Post
            Why can't a team compete more than once? .. If the comments on the rubrics are supposed to be constructive criticism, where is the opportunity to improve and do better? 12 months later with an entirely new challenge?
            If it is any consolation, in the upper level FIRST Robotics programs such as FRC and FTC, teams are allowed to compete in more than one qualifying event. That way they do use the feedback from their first tournament to improve before their second tournament.

            In Minnesota, FLL teams are only allowed to compete in one qualifying tournament, but we are adding new "sectional" tournaments in between the qualifying tournaments and the state championship tournament, so more teams are allowed to advance and compete more than once. Last season, we had reached the point where only about 12% of the teams advanced from the qualifying tournament to the state tournament, and that number was uncomfortably low. This season, about double that number of teams are able to advance from their qualifying tournament and participate in another tournament, hopefully incorporating the feedback from their first tournament.

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            • #7
              Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

              Originally posted by timdavid View Post
              In Minnesota, FLL teams are only allowed to compete in one qualifying tournament, but we are adding new "sectional" tournaments in between the qualifying tournaments and the state championship tournament, so more teams are allowed to advance and compete more than once.
              The North Texas region started with a similar system last year, although the second round of tournament is a "Super Qualifier". Teams at the first round qualifiers can either qualify directly to the Regional Championship (Texas doesn't have a state championship...too big) or qualify to the Super Qualifier. At the Super Qualifier, teams have a second chance to qualify for the Regional Championship. I think it is done this way because it's hard to find schools/churches/groups to hold tournaments, so it doesn't make sense to have most of the same teams at the second round of tournaments as at the Regional Championship. But it seems a bit odd to me that the best teams (in the qualifiers) only get to compete twice while "second tier" teams get to compete three times. But that's the way it currently works.

              For my team (a homeschool team, so some of the kids are doing this as their science/technology class), we continue to meet even after our competition season is ended, usually through the end of April. We focus almost exclusively on robot design and the robot game during this time. I try to introduce some different concepts we didn't get to earlier in the season, give the kids new challenges (solve this mission but you must use a touch sensor at least twice, your code must include at least one MyBlock, etc). They also are more free to modify our robots (we build 2-3 identical robots for use in the robot game work getting ready for the tournament) to specifically suit just one or two missions. Some of this time is helpful for developing the team for future seasons, but we've had so much turnover the past few years that hasn't been that helpful. So it's been more continued learning about engineering, robotics and programming than team development. But it does give more "bang for the buck" for the kids.
              --
              Fort Worth Robotics - North Texas Region Team #455
              Technical coach, baker of the cookies, keeper of the time, transporter of the travel field walls, finder of the spare parts, maker of the pop culture references that only the other tall people understand.

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              • #8
                Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

                Originally posted by gt0163c View Post
                ... teams at the first round qualifiers can either qualify directly to the Regional Championship or qualify to the Super Qualifier.
                Sounds just like the NFL playoffs, where the "top-seeded" teams get a bye from the first "wild-card" round.

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                • #9
                  Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

                  I can say it is almost always a function of finding tournament hosts and volunteers to execute the events. Find a way to help your local partner put on more events, and/or host small informal events locally.

                  I agree the investment costs are high (for a single day), but a very small amount of that money is allocated for tournament support.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

                    One of the FIRST HQ reps was at our state tournament this year, and this very nice lady observed my team's project presentation and talked with them (and me) for a long time while they were waiting in the queue. One of the things I brought up to her was that we have three teams, but two of them were done after the first tournament and it would be nice to have something beyond just the one shot at competing. They are all young teams, so advancement past the qualifier is very difficult. And these are the teams that could benefit most from going to another tournament.

                    I don't recall her exact words, but the gist of her response was that FIRST HQ / FLL has noticed a high demand for that, and were working on some ideas for it. So maybe we will see something in a couple of years, but it definitely wouldn't hurt to send something to them to ask about it.

                    We tried to set up an "off-season" event last spring to replay World Class (and introduce some pre-rookie teams to FLL), but it fell apart as teams dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. We initially had a dozen signed up.

                    We're planning a big Lego Sumo tournament this spring, to try something different! Our FLL season ran from Aug-May the last two years, and that was definitely a cause for burn-out. So there is some fine balance, there, and I'd also caution against over-doing it.
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                    • #11
                      Re: Does it have to be "1 and done"?

                      Hi DMankes,

                      I'm not sure who would have said that in the Florida regions. Typically, if there is space within the local tournaments, then teams can join the fun. Of course, they aren't eligible to advance, but, the team can join the fun. Of course, if the tournaments are full, then that's a different story. In Florida, many of the regional affiliate partners seek out volunteers to host Kickoffs, Scrimmages, and then Qualifiers. If teams want more opportunities to practice and learn from mistakes, then they have to offer to host events.

                      Desh
                      TechPlayzone Science Center
                      FLL Energy Elites 2006-2011
                      FLL Techno Whizards - 2009-2013
                      FLL Programming Thunderbots - 2011-2013
                      FLL Squirtle Squad Scholars - 2014
                      FTC B.L.A.N.K.botics 10520 - 2015
                      FLL West Florida Affiliate Partner at Hillsborough Community College
                      www.suncoastfll.org
                      *FLL stands for FIRST LEGO League
                      *FTC stands for FIRST Tech Challenge

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