How do you pick Robot Operators?

The following discussion is quoted from the Facebook Group FLL: Share & Learn .

Who handles the robot runs during competition?

Teams sometimes pick the best two - based on a combination of tryouts within the team and team attendace/effort. Some teams will switch to a different pairing for each run. Other teams will have the entire team tag in and out even within a single run. There is no right or wrong answer. Do what is best for your team.

Response by Susan Edmonds Nemets

We do a bunch of trial runs with different partners the week before, then choose based on outcome. There is always a kid or two who doesn’t want the pressure of driving, so that’s fine with me. We hadn’t decided ahead of time for the practice tournament and ended up with parents influencing, so for the qualifier we had a written list to head that off.

Response by Don Tippet

If possible, we try to include everyone. Some kids may just bring in and set a jig. Not everyone gets to run the bot. We always have one designated person to review the table before the match as well. So, those are two positions that are still super important, but not involed in the actual running of the bot.

Response by Jennifer Francis

The tournament we compete in has three and sometimes four robot runs. We have the team pair up and each pair gets a chance to run.

Response by Mic Lowne

My policy is for only 3 people to be trained in the corner, 2 that do it all three runs and one emergency. I explain to the students they need to be the ones that have nimble fingers and are good under the stress of people yelling, loud music, time pressure and decision making. I then leave it up to the students to choose the people and I’ll only step in if they cannot agree. We always promote the attitude that while the pilot might fly the plane 100’s of people help them get the plane ready for a successful flight.

Response by Eng Rana Baddar

we used to switch between the best three members. According to our practice on table prior to tournaments it was obvious to the team which ones will really fit during tournaments rounds, in groups of two each round

Michelle Wood Estrada

Everyone on the team gets to go to the table. They each run the mission that the programmed or helped program. One person is in charge of lining up, the other to be the checkpoint and gather any pieces going or coming from base. The table pilot is the most exciting part of the game. Everyone on the team should have a chance to feel that adrenaline.

Response by Lori Jensen Colbert

Last year we had a team of 3. One girl was always our main runner (lining up the robot & pressing buttons) and the other 2 girls alternated runs as the attachment person. All our girls practiced all the roles in practice, but they all agreed among themselves on this approach for the competition because two of the girls were nervous about being the main runner. This year we have a team of four, so they are practicing in two robot runner/attachment person teams and the teams will take turns doing the robot runs on competition day.

Response by Karla Stevens

Team decides!!!!!!Last year my team surprised me and decided 5 min before the (for fun) Head to head competition that the kids that didn’t run the table for the runs that count for the tournament would run the bot for the head to head. It was so much fun for all! Whatever the team decides should be ok as long as they are using core values when deciding.

Response by Ryan Evans

We switch, but that’s probably a strategy I’ll ditch for next year. So much time wasted with kids finding their program, setting up their attachment, etc. As much as I love the idea of it being fair an equitable, the reality is you have 2:30 to get everything done, so efficiency is key.

Response by Celina McGinnis

I ask them to vote on it. My team votes on lots of things. Sometimes it takes a few votes for them to figure out what they really want. It helps to also have an advance “tap out” plan, if say there’s a kid who is better at fixing things, calmer under pressure, etc that everyone is happy with.

Response by Stephanie Ozenne

With a team of 5, I’ve always had each kid launch one mission (it turned out we had that many trips out of base). We have to spend a couple meetings choreographing the change overs, but it works out and they are all happy. If we had 10 kids, I don’t know what I’d do - maybe put them in pairs that launch missions together, one is positioning the robot / checking that attachments are correctly positioned and the other confirms the program and hits the button, then swap out with another pair? That gets more kids at the table…

Response by Catherine Sarisky

I’d really like everyone who wants to to have a turn to launch, but I’m concerned that I have multiple kids who may not commit to enough practice (or whose parents may not bring them to practice), and it doesn’t seem fair to the kids working really hard to throw some of the missions, either.

Response by Swati Gupta

We leave it on the kids to decide… they do runs in time limit and then vote among themselves and decide. They do switch between 3 different runs.

Response by Karine Voinot Josien

I have the kids switch at the table so for every round all the kids who wants to have a turn at the table. Depending on the years that means anywhere form 2 to 5 kids take turn for each round. The more we had tagging in and out the more practice it took but they loved it. Also we arranged it so that the kids who were more likely to miss practice or forget their job under pressure were given the easiest tasks and paired with one of they older team member who could easily remind them what to do.

Response by Sarah Alvarado

Let everyone have one or more turns

Response by Jennifer Husson Seitz

All of my kids get a turn at the table. They work in pairs and tag in and out. Two sets of eyes double-checking alignment, etc. is good. They launch the missions that they worked the most on (whether it be the attachment build or the programming). At our early season scrimmages when we may not have enough missions ready to launch, I give them each different game runs to launch so they each get experience and help reduce the nervous jitters on tournament day. Having said that, we have a non-school based team so all of my kids commit to attending the vast majority of practices and they all contribute to the game in some form or another so they are all invested in the game.

Response by Cindy Duran

We practice with everyone, under tournament conditions (timed, with everyone cheering). Some kids self-select out of handling the robot at competition, because that is just not their thing. Some years, they run different pairs on different matches. Occasionally, they work out how to tag in and out everyone during the match. The team ultimately decides who is on the mat in competition, but if everyone has a shot at it, they are way more invested in what’s happening in the robot game and are better prepared to come up with solutions for the inevitable things that go wrong.

Response by Evonne Reynolds

All of our programming is done is smaller groups of 2-3 team members per group. So one group (students A and B are in that group) might program for missions 1-2 and another group (students C, D, and E might be in that group) might do missions 10 and 12, etc. Each small group is responsible for lining up the robot and executing the program for their specific missions.

So at competition, A and B will start at the table and do their missions first, then they will step away and students D and E might step up and do their two missions next then the next group steps up, etc. The groups that have 3 kids in them will have to pick which two will get to go to the table. Usually there will be one of them who doesn’t want the pressure or one of them who is older and kind enough to let the younger two have the “honor” of being at the table.

And since we get to do Robot Game 3 times, C and D might be at the table for the first round and then D and E might be there for the second round. I stress that ALL team members need to know how to line up the robot and do the attachments, etc. They also find that sometimes there is one kid who is so much better at lining up the robot and that will be someone they want to put at the table.

With all that said, we never are able to run ALL the missions we program in 2:30 run. So we rotate who gets to go when. Each small group is guaranteed to get to go to the table for at least two of the three rounds. The last round is going to be the groups whose programs are running most consistently and we think will give us the most points. We don’t decide that until the day of competition after the end of the second round.

Response by Jason Baber

This is going to sound passive/aggressive, but I would fall back to the Core Values to answer this question. Specifically: We are a team, We honor the spirit of friendly competition, What we discover is more important than what we win, We share our experiences with others, We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do, and We have FUN! To me, that means everyone gets a turn.

Response by Greg Fedrick

We use sub-teams of two students. Each sub-team is assigned a mission. If the sub-team is ready at tournament they go to the table. They decide the order in which their missions will be done and then tag-in/out at the table.

This is very helpful, thank you everyone. However, I’d like to go back to the minimum competency part of the question: Let’s take an extreme case. (Worse than I actually have.) Say a team member doesn’t attend most practices, but shows up on tournament day wanting a turn at the table. Then what?

Let the team decide. Or if you have a head to head type run - have that kid run part of those. But I also think if the kid doesn’t show, it is perfectly fine for the team to decide that kid shouldn’t run the table at all without practice. (Karla Stevens)

Be very clear about your expectations. Let the kids know in advance they need to be at practice. (Let the parents know too). Then if they show up and want a turn, the team usually will say no, you weren’t at practices like we were.) (Jen Bettinger Glaubitz )

OR! You could have a five-minute-intensive-training-by-the-entire-team if they are up for that. Most of my team are heavily involved in sports or other activities, sometimes we won’t see someone for a few days & there’s a lot of catching up to do. And sometimes that is right at competition, 5 minutes before the run. All teams have their own dynamics. (Celina McGinnis)

Response by Karla Stevens

Ultimately let them decide. But taking turns is good. Those that are willing to put in time to practice table runs should be given a little extra consideration by the team. And last year my team had 4 main table runners - but for the (just for fun) head to head competition they all decided as a group that the non-table runners would run the table for that part. They decided 5 min before and there was no time to practice. And they all had a blast (of course it didn’t go as well as the official table runs, but the joy of the team was so worth it). So let them figure it out. And be okay with what they decide.

Response by Harold Goldstein

chances are your team will attend, or want to attend a series of tournaments / trials. I would let the team members vote as to who is at the table for the game. Most teams will have two members - the operator and the assistant to help with accessory changes and act as a second controller, just in case.

Response by Kelly Higgins Ludlam

If it takes rotating, I always like every kid to be at the table at comp. they may be adding an attachment or hitting the buttons. But if they don’t get a spot at the table, they feel bad. Just from my experience.

Response by Haruna Nakamura Cofer

As a coach, you can ask the team what their objective is - do they want to get a high robot score, or do they want to be fair? Some teams can definitely do both, but probably most teams cannot. If they want a high robot score, then they should pick the best handlers. If they want to be fair, then everyone should get a turn. Good luck to all of your teams!!

Response by Michael Risch

Everyone gets a turn. It’s important for the core value of inclusion, but it’s also important for other things. Team members don’t do as well in robot design judging if they have no idea how the robot is operating on the table when they run it. Also, we do tag team, so if possible everyone does something every round (which is hard with a team of 8). They work in pairs of two, but we found that transitions are way faster if one team is prepping for the next run while the first team is finishing the run they just started.

Response by Eng Rana Baddar

According to me they all need to be really good in everything and expert in something . The best three were selected for table games that is based totally on their performance during training days.