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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please check this site frequently. Any notifications and/or clarifications for the 2016 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 Our team has a community/business sponsor.  Can we acknowledge them on our team t-shirts? Yes, we are very happy if teams can get support from the community and you are welcome to acknowledge that support on your team's t-shirts.
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 and Beginner II) 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 explicitly stated by the course mission itself, there is no penalty.
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 On Challenge Day, can parent mentors help at the team table and as needed to provide asssistance to the team coach? Absolutely! Parent mentors are welcome and encouraged to work with the team. Parent involvement should be limited to "mentoring". Only team members should be building and programming the robots, and only team members should carry
the robots to the courses and complete the runs.
General Are teams allowd to use the tiny white rubber bands that come
in the MINDSTORMS kits to secure pieces of the robots?
Any official LEGO part can be used on a
robot.  Any rubber band, tie, cardboard, etc., that is used to pack a kit cannot be used.
General If I have multiple sensors attached to my robot, do I need to remove the unused ones when I move to the next course? Any sensor can be attached to your robot, however, certain courses limit the sensors that can be used to run the course; for instance, the Table Runner requires that the touch sensor (only) is used.  See the individual course rules for details concerning use of sensors.
General Is the old RCX allowed? Yes.  Teams may use the RCX, NXT, or EV3.
General For the Beginner and Beginner II levels, is it ok to complete all four courses and use the best three scores? Yes.  The best three scores are used to determine the overall points.
General Can you use a Lego Technic pneumatic part that is engaged by an EV3 motor? Yes, according to the rules, robots can be built using any "OFFICIAL LEGO PARTS".
Team Display 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 Can coaches stand next to you and tell you where to put things on your table? No. The creation and set-up of the Team Display should be done entirely by the student team members.
Team Display Do team members need to stand beside the Team Display? No. The Team Display does not need to be manned.
Team Display How many team members may be used to setup the display. All student team members (no adults allowed!)
Team Display 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.
Team Display What are the dimensions of the table for the Team Displays? The tables are 6' x 2.5'.
Team Display When judging the display will the judges look in the notebook or will they only judge what is displayed on the table in plain sight? Beginning in 2016, the Team Display and the Team Notebook are two different competitions.  They are judged independently of each other using the scoring sheets for Team Display and for Team Notebook.
Apprentice Courses Is there a time limit for the Apprentice courses? Maximum time limit for official runs on Apprentice Courses is 3 minutes.  The run will end at 3 minutes and teams will receive the scores earned up to that time.
Line Follower Is the robot only allowed to use one light sensor? No, multiple light sensors are allowed.
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" .
Line Follower Can you use a color sensor? Yes, you can use either a light sensor or a color sensor.
Line Follower What constitutes the ‘back’ of the robot? The last physical piece of the robot including wheels, wires, and sensors.
Line Follower What constitutes ‘1-inch’ off the track? The entire robot has to be more than 1” off the black track.  As long as the robot is touching or at least within 1” of the track, they are okay.
Line Follower Does the robot need to be programmed to report the time it took to run the course? No. The judges will use a stop watch to determine the time in which the robot finishes the course.
Line Follower What is the length of the bottom of the ramp? The ramp is 19" in length.  (This was previously listed incorrectly on the Line Follower page.  It has now been corrected.
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 NXT/EV3 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 Are ultrasonic sensors allowed? No.
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.
Table Runner Does the robot have to touch the “X” on each pass? No.
Table Runner Does it count if the robot rolls off the edge on the eighth touch? No.  The course rules state “Touching the edge will be determined if the activation of the touch sensor at the edge of the table causes the direction of motion to be changed without the unit falling off the table.”
Maze Runner Do robots need to use a specific sensor on Maze Runner? No. Any sensor can be used.
Maze Runner Can multiple sensors be used on the same robot? There is no limit on the type or number of sensors used for the Maze Runner.
Maze Runner Are we encouraged to design a program optimized for the
particular maze, eg., by instructing the robot to go forward by 2 feet,
then turn left, then go forward by 1 foot, etc.; or design a
sensor-based universal program that would work for other mazes,
sacrificing the efficiency for the specific one?
There are no limits to how you use sensors or program your robot for the Maze Runner.  The goal of the course is for students to build and program a robot that autonomously responds to its environment.
Maze Runner Can the robot's height break the plane of the top of the Maze Runner walls? There are no restrictions on robot size or construction.
Maze Runner If there is a tie for 1st and 2nd place, will a winner be determined by how quickly they finished the course, or will it remain a tie? The scores earned for each course are only a small part of determining an overall winner at each level (Beginner and Beginner II).  Time is not a tie-breaker consideration.
Maze Runner Do the Checkpoints need to be passed in sequential order to earn points? Checkpoints can be passed in any order or sequence.  They may be skipped if teams choose to do so.  In order to achieve points for any checkpoint, all wheels, tracks, or parts of the robot in contact with the base must completely pass the checkpoint.  Run is over when the robot crosses either checkpoint 9A or 9B.  The run is also declared to be over if the robot becomes stuck and unable to move for 5 seconds. (This has been updated on the webpage.)
MOMS Does it count as a deduction if the robot touches the back of the wall after it touches the finish box (yellow finish area)? What occurs after a run is finished does not affect the total score.
MOMS If a wheel goes off the path on a flat part of the course, is the run over? If the robot is still on the course and can regain the wheel back on the path, there is no penalty.
MOMS Can the touch sensor touch the wall in order to sense the wall in order
to turn without deducting points?
Points are deducted when any part of robot touches wall.
Professional Courses What is the time limit for runs on the Professional Courses? According to the rules, "Unless otherwise designated, (Professional) missions have a 5-minute time limit."
Fuel a Rebellion How (what direction) are the pipe test caps glued onto the PVC pieces? The caps are glued with the raised surfaces protruding rather than the typical recessed manner. See photo.
Fuel a Rebellion Can the robot be touching the block at the beginning of the run? Yes, it can be touching the block.  However, it cannot be lifting the block off the course prior to the start of the run.
Fuel a Rebellion Can the robot move the block when orienting the robot during setup? A:  Yes.  Orientation of the block is not a starting requirement.  The starting point of the block is approximately in the center of the blue starting circle.
Let the WUkiee Win Are points scored if the bottle cap passes under the Death Star and exits the other side? Points are scored at the time the entire bottle cap is on black area under Death Star. (This wording has been changed on the Scoring Matrix.)
Let the WUkiee Win What is the actual gap under the Death Star? The 3.00” dimension on sheet 6, should be 3.25”
Let the WUkiee Win How far is the Split Bridge from the edge of the course? The Split bridge is 30.5" from one edge, and 19.5" from the other edge.  Photos have been added.
Let the WUkiee Win SCORING Change Old wording: Robot reaches top of Split Bridge All wheels of robot are on top (flat surface) of Split Bridge.
REVISED: Robot is completely on the Split Bridge (no part of robot is touching black surface of course or Tatooine (rubber mat)).
Let the WUkiee Win What are the dimensions of the platform that the Worm Hole sits on? The Worm Hole (half bucket) actually sits flat on the surface of the course.  There is a 7.25” long 2x4 board cut diagonally lengthways, with each piece placed on either side of the wormhole to assure that it does not stray from it’s location.  See photos added to the WUkiee page.
Let The WUkiee Win What are the angles of the turns after the Split Bridge? Photos have been added to the WUkiee webpage showing the approximate angles of the lines.
Let the WUkiee Win Does the Death Star have to be black? The Death Star is decorative and does not have to be included in the course build.
Let the WUkiee Win For the task "Robot touches Blue Wall", does touching the top of the wall rather than the face of the wall count? Robot scores points by touching any part
of the blue wall behind the Stormtroopers.
Let the WUkiee Win For the task "Robot (not) crosses White Line", does the part of the robot behind the white line have to touch the course to avoid penalty? All parts of robot must cross White Line as
determined by a vertical plane over the White Line.
Let the WUkiee  Win What constitutes “crossing” a checkpoint? Any part of the robot breaks the plane above the checkpoint location.
Mission WU2_D2 What is the size of the "missile" can? The BOM for Mission WU2_D2 shows these to be 7.5 oz. soda cans.
Mission WU2_D2 If a robot goes partially off the course, is the run over? No, as long as the robot is still on the course and can regain itself back on the course.
Mission WU2_D2 Is there any deductions if your robot goes off course? There is no penalty for being partially off the course.
Mission WU2_D2 Can parts of the robot hang over the starting point? As along as all wheels or tracks are in contact with the starting platform, the run can begin.  Portions of the robot are allowed to hang over the starting platform.
Mission WU2_D2 Do the cans (missiles) have to stay touching the red lava area? When the can (missile) makes contact with the lava (red) area, points are awarded.
Mission WU2_D2 Are there point deductions if the bot is above the lava or
detection area without physical contact?
There is no deduction without physical contact.
Mission WU2_D2 If physical contact is made more than one time with the same lava pit, are there multiple point deductions? Points are deducted for touching lava up to 4 times - this could be the same lava pit or any combination of the 2 lava pits.
Mission WU2_D2 If physical contact is made more than one time with the same detection area, are there multiple point deductions? Points are deducted on the first touch of each detection area. 
The Course Awakens Does the spaceship box need to be touching the ground at the start? Yes, it must be touching the ground at the start of the run.
Trench Run What are the dimensions of the bridge? The top (flat surface) of the bridge is 12" long.  The up and down ramps are both 5.50".
Trench Run What is the dimensions of the washer to hold the ball? The outside diameter is 1.38” and the inside diameter is 0.68”
Trench Run If one wheel touches gym floor, is the robot disqualified? No.  The entire robot must be off of the course to be eliminated.
Trench Run Is the robot allowed to touch the back wall? There is no penalty for touching the back wall.
Trench Run Is stopping in the gray box for any amount of time allowed? Traversing the gray parking area is allowed as long as the robot is exhibiting motion.  Once the robot comes to a stop in the parking area, the run is over.
Wustafar Can you do Array 1, Array 2, then the power cell to landing zone and then do Array 3 and get the points for doing them in order? Yes.
Wustafar Does the robot have to end in the landing zone? No. The robot earns points when it comes to a complete stop with some part touching Landing Zone.
Wustafar Where exactly is the Landing Zone? The Landing Zone has been clearly marked on the course and a photo added to the Wustafar webpage.
Wustafar Once the power cell touches the landing zone, does it have to remain? No.
Wustafar Can robot cross lines from either direction to score points? Yes.  Points are awarded for the robot completely crossing the checkpoint.
Wustafar Black tape overhangs the course beyond checkpoint A and checkpoint B. Tape was trimmed off during the day on Trial Day.
MOC Can you enter with a friend? No.  Each entry must be made with only one name.
MOC Can more then 2 people enter moc together, like a group of friends 3-4 people? Any number of people can work on a MOC, however, the entry must be made with one name, and only one brick will be awarded for the winning entry in each category.
MOC Can a MOC be controlled by a non LEGO part? No.  As stated in the MOC rules, the MOC must be 100% LEGO bricks and must be controlled by an EV3/NXT/RCX.

Questions from Trial Day.