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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please check this site frequently. Any notifications and/or clarifications for the 2017 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 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. 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.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 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 allowed 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? The Team Display and the Team Notebook are two different competitions.  They are judged independently of each other using the scoring sheets for the Team Display and Team Notebook 
Team Display How will the standard "The display is aligned with the theme of the competition" be judged when there is no overall theme this year? In the absence of a theme, each team will choose their own theme and build their display around that. Judges will score teams based on how well "the display demonstrates the team's individual theme."
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.
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.The run is declared to be over if the robot becomes stuck and unable to move for 5 seconds.
Maze Runner Does the robot have to stop after crossing either checkpoint 9A or 9B? The run is over once the robot crosses either checkpoint 9A or 9B and no further points can be scored.
Maze Runner Does the back of the robot have to be touching at the start or can a cord be touching? Anything attached to the robot (must be LEGO component) is considered a part of the robot.
MOMS Does the robot have to physically touch the yellow areas or can a component of the robot simply pass over it? The robot must physically touch the yellow areas.
MOMS Are points deducted for touching the back side of the walls? No.
Batman What is the length of the interior wall at the entrance? The 18” board measures 17.25” so the 1’ 6 ¾” wall is actually 1’ 6”.
Batman Where is the quarter placed on the platform? The quarter is lined up flush with the two open sides of the platform.
Batman Are the destinations, zones (areas) or exact locations? The numbers on the course are considered to be the destination.
Batman Is the white area considered to be the lair? Yes
Batman Can the golf ball be moved to destination 6 and the robot go back and finish other elements? Yes.  Destination 6 is not actually the “end of the run”.
Batman What is the “dance movement” and when it is to be performed? A dance is anything other than a straight line movement of the robot and can be performed anywhere during the run.
Batman Does the golf ball have to be knocked off? Any removal of the golf ball by any method constitutes “knocked”.
Towers of Doom Is there a scoring penalty for touching or knocking over the towers? There is no scoring penalty for touching the towers, and the construction of the course makes it unlikely that the towers would be knocked over by a robot. 
Towers of Doom Would attaching the towers to the course with Velcro have a negative effect? One negative effect of velcro is that the towers will move when bumped by the robot. The towers on the official course will not move. If your robot never touches the towers, there should be no negative effect. With that said, you are free to attach the towers however you prefer. 
Towers of Doom Does the entire robot need to be inside the red starting square? Only the elements touching the surface must be inside the red area.
Wonder WuMan Regarding checkpoint 3, what is the specific location?  Also, does the robot have to actually touch these checkpoints (2 and 3) or simply pass by them? The drawing indicates an "indicator" for checkpoints 2 and 3.  Both are pointers to the center point of the line, that is the actual checkpoint.  Any part of the robot passing over the center of the line at the point indicated will score points.
Wonder WuMan Does the boulder (red can) have to remain in the circle to receive points? No.  Once the boulder is in the circle, points are awarded.
Fishy McFishface What do the hinges and hardware of the drawbridge look like after modifications? A hardware modification had to be made to connect the drawbridge to the course using four screws. See a picture of the official course after modification. 
Fishy McFishface Are points awarded or deducted for touching the edge of the shark/fish boards? Points are only awarded for touching the fish side and deducted for touching the shark side.  The edges of the boards have no point value.
Day on the Farm What position will the switches be at the start? Both switches will be up. 
Day on the Farm Is there a specific position that the solar panel must be on the roof? No. As long as it is on the roof.