David Kelly: I believe, if presentation of the Chairman's Awards will still happen at the Nationals, that they will be formally presented/read at the podium on-stage, with pictures from the pages scanned and displayed on-screen (if any have been included).
Rich Wong: I don't know who you received replies from but it clearly contradicts what is clearly stated in bold, italicized text on the 2003 Chairman's Award guidelines under "Judging Process". Your message stated:
Q2: Are teams allow to bring or show "items" to the judges during the interview process?
A: It's an interview- not a presentation with visual aids.
However, the guideline documentation states: A team may bring additional material to the interview; however, the judges will require that the team also provide any necessary equipment to display the material.
What I believe this person who replied to you was trying to say was that you cannot begin the interview and start presenting things about your team. If the material you bring relates to the questions you are being asked, then that material would be appropriate to display/"present" after the judge has fired out the question(s) at you, only to emphasize the points you make in your reply.
Shawn: Regarding the issue of "levelling it out" too much, remember that you can still bring in a short video clip or what not to emphasize a point on your submission during the interview. For example, if your team has been featured on a TV news-station, and it is something you really want to emphasize on your submission, then bring in a short clip of the actual airing report!
Andy Baker: You've mentioned, "The Chairman's award is not about how well a team produces a video or how well they write an essay... it's the content, people!!" Just to conclude that, we all have to think about what has really changed with this now different submission format. What did the previous format provide that this one does not, and vice versa? To speak in a somewhat functionalist perspective:
1. There is always the inevitable subconscious influence within human beings. Even though a team has a poor demonstration of the true meaning of FIRST, a professional and fancy video will influence the decision of the judge regardless; just like a first-impression at a job interview. It is inevitable and no one can avoid it. For this year's interview, your obligation is to make sure your 1 to 3 representatives are therefore displaying a first-impression of excellence.
2. The upside to literature is that if you had spokespersons/reporters in videos that aren't too good-looking, or spoke with a noticeable accent, then again, the judge's decision will change subconsciously (or even consciously if the judge feels like being cruel). With literature, the judge reads the content in their head and applies the same voice to every submission. Therefore, the only thing that will make an impact is style of writing. Grammatical and/or spelling errors will definately make an impact as it completely inflicts up the aspect of professionalism. However, these are really easy to fix with a few proof-reads by various students and mentors. Seek out those English teachers!
3. The downside to this year is that last year allowed for easy display of evidence. What you write on paper may not always be true. Therefore, it is crucial that you think critically about what aspects in your submission are somewhat "hard to believe" in, and maybe bring in a few photographs or a short video clip to prove those aspects to be true. Ask others for their opinions on the skepticism they may develop while reading over the submission. If anything, something that may seem too good to be true is probably also something you may want to emphasize as a great accomplishment and make it stand out, by bringing in extra materials for the interview, hence providing evidence.
So as we can see, this modification turns out to be generally minor as the same message may be conveyed for the same content. And looking at it in a Utilitarian perspective, it is, in the long run, a fairly better medium for submission; there is no need for any panic or concern. This year it appears that competition for the Chairman's Award will rise much higher; I'm sure we'll all do very well.