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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please check this site frequently. Any notifications and/or clarifications for the 2011 Missions will be posted here as soon as they become available. Answers will not be returned through e-mail.

If you have a question about a mission or the Challenge in general, please click on the "Questions" link and fill out the FAQ form. This method will help us answer questions more efficiently and archive questions and comments for use in future planning. Please do not send questions through e-mail. Thank you!

When asking questions, please keep in mind that the FAQ page is meant to address questions about basic design or fundamental rules and goals of the Missions. The Missions are designed to encourage teams to think about alternative ways to design and program their robots to complete specified tasks. Exact reproduction of the courses is not necessary for programming and development. On Trial Day, each team will have the opportunity to ask detailed questions about the Missions and visit with the Mission designers. Teams will also have time to test their robots on each course and make modifications to their designs and programs as needed. MINDSTORMS robots are meant to be autonomous - they should react to their environment. For example, if the tape is not in the exact position as noted, the robot should not be affected. Also, note that there is a 1/8" tolerance on the building of all competition courses.


Topic Question Answer
General What happens if one of the team members is sick the day of the competition and that makes our team below the number required? You need at least five (5) registered team members (Beginner) or eight (8) registered team members (Intermediate and Expert) present on Challenge Day to be eligible for the awards. If something happens and fewer than the minimum number of team members shows up, then the remaining team members are MORE than welcome to run the courses, but they willl not be eligible for awards and/or trophies.
General Is there any kind of penalty if a piece falls off the robot (intentionally or unintentionally) while completing the scenario? Unless explictly stated by the course mission itself, there is no penalty.
General Where is the form to order badges? Each student who is registered (and one coach) gets a free badge. Use the order form for extra badges.
General The members on our teams have changed. How can we change the registration information? Once a team has been registered, the team members' names cannot be changed online. If you have a change, please email that information to karen.reynolds@wichita.edu. It will be the coach's responsibility on Trial Day to check the list of team members' names to ensure accuracy.
General What software is required to run the robots? There are no restrictions on the software used to run the robots at the MINDSTORMS Challenge.
General Can robot parts be labeled? Robot parts can be labeled as long as the label does not provide a competitive advantage, does not add functionality, or does not in any way interfere with the performance of the robot.
General Can teams bring their laptops to the mission areas? No. Laptops are not allowed at the mission areas. Laptops must remain at the teams' table/work area.
General When will the MOC Awards be announced? The MOC Awards will be made during the Expert/Intermediate Awards ceremony.
General Can I attend both Awards ceremonies? Yes, anyone can attend either or both ceremonies.
General What awards will be made at the Beginner Awards ceremony? Beginner 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Beginner Team Display & Notebook
Beginer Spirit & Sportsmanship
General What awards will be made at the Expert/Intermediate Awards ceremony?

Expert 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Expert Presentation
Expert Team Display & Notebook
Expert Spirit & Sportsmanship
Intermediate 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Intermediate Presentation
Intermediate Team Display & Notebook
Intermediate Spirit & Sportsmanship
All MOC Awards

Team Display and Notebook Can your display face multiple directions? No, your display should face one direction. It is possible that your table will be placed against a wall or something else blocking one side of the table from view.
Team Display and Notebook Can coaches stand next to you and tell you where to put things on your table display? No. The creation and set-up of the Team Display and Notebook display should be done entirely by the student team members.
Team Display and Notebook Are dates important on individual entries in the notebook? Dates are not mandatory but could be important to show the process or progress of learning over a period of time.
Team Display and Notebook Do team members need to stand beside the Team Display and Notebook? No. The Team Display and Notebook does not need to be manned.
Team Display and Notebook Does each team have to have a separate Team Display and Notebook? Each team is entering the challenge independently, and in competition with each other. Each team must complete the missions independently and separate from each other - this includes the Team Display and Notebook. You MUST designate which team the Team Display and Notebook is for.
Team Display and Notebook How many team members may be used to setup the display. All student team members (no adults allowed!)
Team Display and Notebook May we move the table within our allotted space? No.
Team Display and Notebook Where can I find information about what we need for the Team Display? Teams have a great deal of flexibility in both the display and the notebook. Guidelines and a scoring rubric are on the website. Also, a few sample pictures of table and notebook displays from previous years are available here.
Team Display and Notebook Can a display hang over or extend beyond the table? No. The display cannot be larger than the table top. Exception: a cloth or table cover can be used. It can hang below the table top, but should not take up any additional space and will not be part of the information judged.
Line Follower Is the robot only allowed to use one light sensor? No, multiple light sensors are allowed.
Line Follower If a robot has more than one sensor, must both be positioned on the centerline tape at the start? No.
Line Follower Does robot have to stop at end of run? No.
Line Follower What is the start position? The rules state: Your robot must begin its run while the back of your unit is lined up with "A" (Note: The sensor must be positioned along the centerline tape with the unit as far back towards the "A" as possible.).
Line Follower What are the dimensions of the styrofoam ramp; is it centered on the straightaway; is the surface of the ramp just the exposed stryrofoam painted; what are the angles? It is centered along the 44.500 dimension.
1" tall
17.5" in length
15 degree on approach
25 degree on opposing end
Tempered hardwood (not styrofoam) painted black with white electrical tape centerline
Table Runner Do you have to use touch sensors for this challenge? There is another way. From the web, "The purpose of this Apprentice Mission is to utilize the touch sensor capability of the RCX/NXT unit. You must therefore show satisfactory evidence to the course Judge that the unit is utilizing a touch sensor to direct its motion and change of direction when reaching the edge of the table."
Table Runner Is there a specific starting orientation required? No.
Table Runner Does the robot have to stop when completed? No.
Table Runner Does the 30 studs x 30 studs include all wires? Yes, the wires must stay inside the 30x30 during measurement and at the start of the run. If the robot extends AFTER the start button is pressed, that is okay.
RampIt! Are there any specific sensor requirements? No.
RampIt! Does the robot have to start in the corner at the bottom of the course? No.
RampIt! Opposite side of pegs on the way up and back; up one side and down the other side of center pegs or figure 8? Figure 8. Robot must cross the centerline between pegs on the way up and on the way down for maximum points.
MOC Can you enter with a friend? Yes.
Disaster in the Gulf What is the width of the tape used on the scenario? 3/4"
Disaster in the Gulf There is a discrepancy in the dimensions for
the hole that is to be cut in the base board (where the blue brick is to be pushed into). In the "Building Instructions" it says ... 'Cut a 1.5" x 2.75" hole one inch from the bottom edge of the plywood...'. However, the PDF schematic drawing indicates that the hole is 1.75" x 2.75". What are the correct dimensions for the hole?
The actual dimensions of the hole are 1.5" x 3".
Disaster in the Gulf What are the requirements for how the brick falls into the hole? Some part must be in the hole, does not have to touch ground, but brick must breaks the plane of hole (e.g., some portion of block below playing surface).
Disaster in the Gulf What if a piece of robot falls off course? No penalty.
Disaster in the Gulf What if the robot pushes the blue block into the hole, but then knocks it out as the robot moves on by? You will not get the 100 points because the hole was not successfully plugged.
e-Cycle When containers are placed in the black and white sections, if one container knocks other(s) out of the area, do they still count as having been inside completely?

Points are determined at the end of the run (not as containers are moved); therefore, only those containers completely inside or touching recycling areas at the end of the run will be counted for points.

e-Cycle Do you have specific locations for the recyclables? What is the spacing in between each block? The recyclables (black and white wood blocks) are placed alongside and touching the road. They are spaced approximately 3" apart, with approximately 4.5" between the end blocks and the road. The order of the blocks (for instance, white, black, white, white . . .) will not be revealed until Challenge Day.
e-Cycle Is there a specific starting position or starting line in which or behind which the robot must start? Drive or support wheels shall be behind a line extending from the intersection of the yellow/black area in both directions (10” from edge of course). Sensors or other robot components may extend beyond this area.
e-Cycle Can a team score negative points? If so, will those count as negative scores in the final team scores? Although it is “possible” to score negative points on this course, the official (recorded) score for a run scoring negative points will be “1”. This (1) is the score that will be entered for the run and used when determining awards.
Feller Buncher Regarding the bridge exit ramps, the drawings call for the ramps to be the same as the height of the bridge. What is the length of the exit ramps for the 3" high and the 4" high bridge? The exit ramp for the 3" bridge is 4 3/8" in length. The exit ramp for the 4" bridge is 8" in length.
Future of Flight May a part of the robot go over the grass area as long as it does not touch? In other words, if the robot has parts that hang out over the grass, but do not touch the surface of the course (the grass) will points be deducted? The rules state that points will be deducted for touches (direct contact). The airspace above the grassy areas is not restricted. The judges will determine physical contact of robot and grassy area. The judges' determination will be final.
Future of Flight Does the course have to be completed in a particular order? Do the airplanes have to be moved in the order described in the course description? (4, 3, 2, 1) There is no particular order indicated to complete the mission.
Future of Flight If the robot touches one green patch and later touches the same patch, will they lose an additional 50 points for touching the same green patch a second time? Points are only lost the first time that your robot or a plane touches each grass (green) area. Maximum points lost for touching grass areas is 200.
Future of Flight Are the "planes", the 2x2x2 cubes painted or duct-taped? The planes are painted with white spray paint. The numbers are stick-on numbers.
Future of Flight Can a team score negative points? If so, will those count as negative scores in the final team scores? Although it is “possible” to score negative points on this course, the official (recorded) score for a run scoring negative points will be “1”. This (1) is the score that will be entered for the run and used when determining awards.
Searching for the Future How are the lower walls attached to the base? From the build instructions: “The 1”x2” fur strips were cut for a perimeter support for the base.” These were not dimensioned otherwise as they are for support and not crucial to the course run.
Searching for the Future In the view labeled "right view without walls", there is a dimension from the top of the ramp that is 18.2 inches. From other views, it appears that 18.2" should be at the top of the lower wall section. This does not allow anything for the lower wall section to attach to the base. Is this dimension correct? The 18.2” dimension is correct for the actual course. Additional wall height is required for securing the bottom half walls to the perimeter base support. Lower walls are closer to 18.5” for this purpose and should have been noted in the Build Instructions.
Searching for the Future If robot ‘pops a wheelie’ and all 4 wheels come down on the course, can run continue? Yes, as long as robot does not tumble (roll, fall, etc.).
Save Earth - Clean Outer Space On the drawing, the space path white line width is identified as 0.5, but the material list identifies 3/4" white tape. What is the width of the white line? The tape is actually 3/4" wide throughout the course. 
Save Earth - Clean Outer Space Do the tasks have to be accomplished in the ordered that is stated? Can the robot go past Checkpoint B first and then Checkpoint A - in other words, go the opposite direction on the line? The robot must start on the platform. There is no required sequence to
score points. Points are scored for passing the checkpoints in either
Save Earth - Clean Outer Space The drawing has a dimension of (X,5). What does that mean? The location of the center point of the tape is denoted by this dimension. The x,y coordinates are actually at: (28,6).
Save Earth - Clean Outer Space If the robots’ wheels leave the board and return onto it, is that okay? As long as some wheel(s) remain on the board and continues the course, no penalty is incurred.
Save Earth - Clean Outer Space A ‘twist-tie’ keeper was noticed on one of the robots to keep wire leads together. Is this allowed? No. This is packing material that came with the kit – not considered LEGO item. (The robot would be disqualified.)
Save Earth - Clean Outer Space Does the trash have to stay in the recycle bin to earn
the last 100 points or can it be put in the bin and then removed?
It has to stay in the recycle bin.
Save Earth - Clean Outer Space Is the 9” dimensions for the ramp, the length the ramp or the distance the ramp covers? The distance the ramp covers as shown from the top-down view drawing.