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Does the PROBLEM have to be water related....

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  • Does the PROBLEM have to be water related....

    ... or just the solution? My boys are looking at Water Battery (or Wattery, as they call it), to store electrical power. The problem is not at all water related, but solution most certainly is. They fell funny explaining their "problem" as being non related to water. What do you think?
    Legolympians - 2009-2015 (retired - joined FRC team 5422 Stormgears)
    Legolicious - 5th year girls team
    Brick Force - 2nd year boys team

    2015 - Mass FLL coach of the year.

  • #2
    From the Challenge Guide: Your teams Project challenge this season is to improve the way people find, transport, use, or dispose of water.

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    • #3
      The problem has to be part of the human water cycle. Read the challenge updates which discusses this in some detail. I don't think your wattery qualifies.

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      • #4
        But it BECOMES a part of "human water cycle". Hydroelectric power is NOW part of human water cycle, but it originally wasn't. In fact, anything other drinking water, shouldn't be considered a "natural human water cycle". Everything else we do with water, was dreamed up by humans over 1000's of years! Water battery is just another USE of water!
        Legolympians - 2009-2015 (retired - joined FRC team 5422 Stormgears)
        Legolicious - 5th year girls team
        Brick Force - 2nd year boys team

        2015 - Mass FLL coach of the year.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nedcook View Post
          From the Challenge Guide: Your teams Project challenge this season is to improve the way people find, transport, use, or dispose of water.
          They are improving how humans use water batteries (which do exist, but on a much larger scale).
          Legolympians - 2009-2015 (retired - joined FRC team 5422 Stormgears)
          Legolicious - 5th year girls team
          Brick Force - 2nd year boys team

          2015 - Mass FLL coach of the year.

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          • #6
            In my experience, most project judges give the teams a wide latitude in picking their problem.

            From the challenge guide:

            Water might be part of the process to produce their food, energy, mobile phones, or other products.
            Questions like this in the challenge guide seem applicable to the "wattery":
            • Where does water go after it is used?
            • Does the water need to be cleaned, transported, or stored during the process?
            I would make sure your team identifies the problem as "how to use and dispose of the water for the wattery", and NOT "how to build a better battery to store electrical power."
            Last edited by timdavid; 11-16-2017, 05:45 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Leon R View Post
              ... or just the solution? My boys are looking at Water Battery (or Wattery, as they call it), to store electrical power. The problem is not at all water related, but solution most certainly is. They fell funny explaining their "problem" as being non related to water. What do you think?
              When is your qualifying tournament?

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              • #8
                December 9th. So if we absolutely MUST, we can still change it. But I let kids have 100% say in what topic they pick, unless I feel that it doesn't fall within the rules and I am not 100% sure on this one...

                "used" water will be stored at ground (or below) level in a tank, pond or even a pool. Re-use requires very basic filtering.

                BTW, they went to a scrimmage tournament, where judges had no problem with this topic.
                Legolympians - 2009-2015 (retired - joined FRC team 5422 Stormgears)
                Legolicious - 5th year girls team
                Brick Force - 2nd year boys team

                2015 - Mass FLL coach of the year.

                Comment


                • #9
                  "Improve the way people ... use ... water." The solution uses water, and they're improving it. As an occasional Project Judge, if it were me, I would allow it. Certainly at the Qualifier level, but if I were at World, I might ask the head judges. (This opinion from me carries exactly zero weight in your teams' judging room.)

                  I recognize that this opens a door. If a team improves the way people use lettuce, and lettuce uses and contains water, then it fits? Aieeee.

                  I had a team that aged out at Nature's Fury. The updates that year put a fairly tight spec on exactly what was considered a natural disaster and what wasn't. My team had a project dealing with lakes that had a buildup on CO2 that endangered humans, and they had to turn some mental gymnastics to claim that the CO2 was driven partially by vulcanism. At every level of competition, their problem/solution was happily accepted, and judged on its merits as beneficial, innovative, or not.

                  And if it makes the kids proud and happy, then let them do the lettuce and support them fully!

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                  • #10
                    Were it all up to me I would agree to accept the solution if it could be tied to a problem that fits loosely in the human water cycle. However it isn't up to me and the best guidance we have are the research project updates that all point to a more focused view on the water and how it is used by humans. From the little you've said about the solution it sounds like the water related issues are ancillary at best. Please feel free to correct me if water batteries is having a big impact on the human water cycle. Is there a big push for water batteries and the only thing holding back development is a way to process waste water? If so, a solution that reduces the amount of waste or reduces the impact of the waste would be a good project for this topic. However, if the proposed solution fixes some other problem, like efficiently storing power, it has little to do with the human water cycle and is a poor choice for the research project.

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                    • #11
                      There is a somewhat local hydroelectric power plant, that uses a remote pond/lake up in a mountain to store energy during low usage time and then, use it up during peak demand. Boys were intrigued by this concept and decided to use water towers to store energy on much smaller scale. Basically something a farmer can use to store energy from his windmill, solar panels or even small hydroelectric plant. Solution is 100% water related! Problem... not necessary... Unless they work the angle that they are scaling it down from the "mountain" idea
                      Legolympians - 2009-2015 (retired - joined FRC team 5422 Stormgears)
                      Legolicious - 5th year girls team
                      Brick Force - 2nd year boys team

                      2015 - Mass FLL coach of the year.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Leon R View Post
                        There is a somewhat local hydroelectric power plant, that uses a remote pond/lake up in a mountain to store energy during low usage time and then, use it up during peak demand. Boys were intrigued by this concept and decided to use water towers to store energy on much smaller scale. Basically something a farmer can use to store energy from his windmill, solar panels or even small hydroelectric plant. Solution is 100% water related! Problem... not necessary... Unless they work the angle that they are scaling it down from the "mountain" idea
                        I would say the problem is not related to the water cycle at all unless it is the problem is collecting or disposing of water used in the tower and I'll bet that is not the team's focus. You tread on unsteady ground.

                        I swear I saw something about this idea back in the 70's and it was referenced as an old technology then. That was right around the time when solar farms were taking off and they were trying every idea for how to balance out energy supply and demand. I remember a storage tank and a steam powered pump and a turbine. Maybe it was a prototype for the large scale storage your team is thinking about scaling back down.

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                        • #13
                          The large version of this has been used for a while (like the power plant I mentioned earlier). But no one is doing this on small scale. Think of it as Tesla Wall alternative (that is what they using as benchmark). This isn't a direction I would have wanted them to follow, but they pick the topic and not I. I suspect they might end up using this as repurposing of old water towers, rather than, "build a new water tower" type of preposition.
                          Legolympians - 2009-2015 (retired - joined FRC team 5422 Stormgears)
                          Legolicious - 5th year girls team
                          Brick Force - 2nd year boys team

                          2015 - Mass FLL coach of the year.

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