Battlebots I.Q.- A serious threat to FIRST or a half thought up cheep copy?

Read this dabate from NYT:

The action on the playing field was strikingly different at the BattleBots IQ tournament, held for the first time in March in a cavernous soundstage at Universal Studios in Orlando. In the center of the soundstage, framed on three sides by bleachers, was a large plexiglass cube in which the matches took place. Saws popping up from the floor and heavy hammers hanging at the corners of the cube were controlled by students trying to damage the opposing team’s robots. But the pit area was similar to those of First competitions: teams freely shared tools, spare parts and advice.

Among those who helped start the BattleBots IQ program are Nola Garcia, who still runs a Miami-based First team, and Michael Bastoni, a teacher from Plymouth North High School in Massachusetts who formerly took part in First and now fields teams for BattleBots IQ. Alex Slocum, an M.I.T. professor who studied under Dr. Flowers and works down the hall from him, helped write the robot-building guidelines.

In one confrontation, a robot built by students from Hauppauge High School on Long Island got caught under one of the hammers and endured a series of nasty whacks, one of which immobilized it, ending the match. Afterward, a man swept the metal shavings from the ring, and team members in blue coveralls and hard hats carried their robot into the pit area, where they analyzed what had happened. After removing its dented skin, they discovered the problem: a disconnected battery.

Some teams, like the one from Hauppauge, competed this year in both First and BattleBots IQ. Others at the BattleBots tournament were new to robotics competitions altogether, like the four schools from the Pueblo School District in Colorado, one of which fielded Tetanus, a menacing robot with a rusty blade that spun at 1500 rpm. A few schools had shifted from First to BattleBots IQ, citing the lower cost of taking part (a registration fee of $100 per team, plus whatever the team decides to spend on robot materials), the simpler game rules and the possibility of winding up on television or even having their robot transformed into a toy. (BattleBots has a licensing deal with Hasbro and says it will share toy and television royalties with schools that take part. First emphasizes the $1.2 million in scholarships that it will hand out this season.)

Can the two programs co-exist peacefully, bringing robotics competitions to a larger number of schools?

Dr. Flowers said that he believed that the educational merits of participating in First and in BattleBots IQ could “be quite equivalent” but that he worried about the safety issues raised by BattleBots. “If I were a principal, would I want students building something overtly dangerous?” he said. “It just scares me. And I’d be disappointed if it turns out that we need destruction for something to be interesting.”

Mr. Bastoni said that the BattleBots IQ program enforced rigorous safety rules. “There is room for diversity,” he said, noting that the Olympic Games include aggressive sports like boxing and hockey along with diving and figure skating.

Still, sniping between the two groups occasionally flares up. Mr. Roski of BattleBots has said that engineers, not students, do too much of the work on First robots; Mr. Kamen has argued that civilization does not advance by one group’s demolishing the achievements of another, but rather by building something superior.

Odd as it may seem, the initial peace overtures seem to be coming from the organizers of Battlebots IQ.

“Kids love First and they love BattleBots,” Ms. Garcia said. “They’re two different engineering exercises. If I like chocolate ice cream, I can like vanilla, too.”

So, is Battlebots IQ a serious threat to the moral and other positions FIRST has and FIRST itself? Or is it a half harted attempt to pre-umpt FIRST and will die along with Battlebots in the next few years?

IMHO, Battlebots IQ won’t survive. It is too violent to be addapted outside of the US (except mabey in the UK). Plus, they currently hold rounds in Universal, so that’s a death bed too. Plus, when was the last time you watched WB instead of ESPN or ABC which FIRST has.

Note: Note Dean’s rebuttle to that FIRST relies to much on engineers.

I don’t really like the choices for the poll.

The question is “Battlebots I.Q.- A serious threat to FIRST or a half thought up cheep copy?” But the choices for votes don’t give me the answer I want to check.

My answer is YES Battlebots IQ (and its Daddy, Battlebots) is a HUGE threat to FIRST’s success.

FIRST has ALWAYS been about changing the culture. For me, TV has got to be a big factor in bringing about that change. To the extent that Battlebots is draining off TV coverage that FIRST should be getting, it is a big threat to FIRST’s long term goals.

Joe J.

I’ve only recently seen Battlebots and have not viewed this IQ show. In my opionion the FIRST competitions are much more exciting to view. There is more strategy and a lot more functionality to the machines. As a threat to FIRST I do not believe the two “program” can be compared the have diverging views and goals. Would I support a program that promotes destruction? No too much of that already, I think we are all ready for something that highlights the good values in America.

My opinion - for what it is worth

Give me more tools; I’ll use the ones that are most useful for the job.

Our job is to build future engineers because our country needs them. It just so happens that FIRST is the best tool in our toolbox right now but there is a lot of room left. If BattleBots IQ becomes a useful tool to do our job, then we should use it. BattleBots IQ might be the very thing that we need to convince some schools to give us their students so we can build them into America’s future scientists & engineers.

Currently, the best tools in my toolbox are FIRST & BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, & Technology) for the high schools, LEGO League & Botball for the middle schools, and LEGO Spectrum system kits for the elementary schools. Although I consider FIRST the best high school spring competition and the best tool in the ole toolbox, I can definitely see using a BattleBots IQ tool for schools that can’t afford FIRST.

Considering the enormous amounts of bright and intelligent students that we are not harvesting because they just happen to live in rural Mississippi or any other poor part of the country and cannot afford FIRST, we must find or make tools that will harvest these students. If BattleBots IQ is that tool, then we must use it. By far, the best tool that we’ve had in the past few years has been the NASA sponsorships (all of the Mississippi schools have been started by NASA sponsorships … and have done great things in their communities).

With all that said, my vote is that they can coexist as long as both sides stick to gracious professionalism. Can FIRST crush BattleBots IQ like a cheap aluminum coke can with a few choice remarks by a few influential people? YEP! Can BattleBots IQ put on a “FIRST costs too much” campaign and bring it to its knees? YEP! I just hope neither goes that route.

Take care,

Something to ponder: You’re in the finals at Nationals and the 1/4" bolts that hold your wheels onto your base are loose and all you brought to the stage was a pair of pliers and a screw driver, do you tighten the bolt with the less-than-perfect-tool-for-the-job pair of pliers or do you just let your wheels fall off because the perfect tool for the job, your trusty ole 7/16" open ended wrench, was back in the pits?

Brandon, if you are reading this, can you change the poll options? Thanks.


Yes, serious threat
Yes, but not that big
No, but keep an eye out
No, don’t pay attention to them

First of all, this is a loaded question…I’ve come to expect this bias on the forum though.

Second of all, the biggest threat to FIRST is FIRST itself. Just read this line from the article:

"At the First regional competition at the New Haven Coliseum, the crowd’s energy level rivaled that of a homecoming football game. But to the uninitiated, what transpired on the field was as opaque as a livestock auction. "


I often find myself saying this point over and over again, but I feel that it is an important aspect that is often overlooked.

Being a part of a FIRST team is not just about building a robot.

Sure both programs offer an equal opportunity to learn and get excited about science and technology. Both can spark an interest in a student to do some research on his or her own time, and learn something.

However, part of the FIRST enviroment, and something that was also listed in the FIRST distributed team charter was something different.

I paraphrase,

“To build a team THEN build a robot”

What you learn from building an organization, especially a lasting strong organization cannot be quantified by any means.

So much goes into building a solid organization, it takes the efforts of more than simply a couple students in a garage building a robot.

Perhaps the high cost of entry into a FIRST robotics competition says something about EVERY team that participates in FIRST.

As Dean would say, Just MAKING it to a FIRST robotics regional, makes your team a winner.

There is a great deal of truth in this saying.

Imagine having to raise at least $5000 for entry, getting the help of local engineers and ultimately making sacrifices and working together, making compromises, the whole process is something to marvel over.

When your organization has grown into the community, and makes a difference in the lives of many, THAT is something to be proud of.

FIRST rewards that team with the chairman’s award.

But every team in the FIRST competition should be proud of themselves for what they have accomplished.

Realize that only a small percentage of the nation would have the opportunities presented to student to grow not only academically, but also as people.

The worlds need more people like those who participate in FIRST.

That, I like to think is the distinction between a FIRST robotics team and Battlebots IQ team. (limited to only 5 members 4 students 1 adult).

Ultimately, it’s not about learning to build a robot. It’s about what you do AFTER FIRST. What are you going to contribute to the world?

I say this over and over, and I’ll probably be saying this for every generation to come.

What you learn and experience in building your team and organization, and dealing with the people you meet. (often many great people) will far outlast any robot you build.

It seems we don’t like to admit this, but FIRST is already losing (has lost?) to Battlebots.

Whenever I speak to someone about building robots with my students without mentioning FIRST beforehand (and often when I have mentioned FIRST) they ask, “You mean like Battlebots?”

Many, many, many more people know about Battlebots than FIRST. The rules are simple, the “game” is simple. People like to see flying parts, sparks, something fighting for its survival, etc. Just like people like(d) to see gladiators and bear baiting (and bull fighting and kickboxing and WWF…).

There are far more kids out there who want to build a battlebot than want to join a FIRST team. For one thing, far more know about BattleBots (and similar TV programs) than FIRST. For another, adolesents (especially males) are driven in our society to be violently competitive.

All of this makes FIRST’s job really, really hard. (And some would say that much more important.)

In the end, I will say this. I used to like BattleBots. I liked the demonstrations of driving skill, design, strategy, etc. Now, I am bored with it. The game is the same every time. Rather boring. Perhaps this is the advantage FIRST can exploit. Come back next time and check out the NEW GAME!

Just some thoughts.

-Mr. Van

Nola Garcia: “I wish I was Dean”

Alex Slocum: " I am the next woddie"

a cheap imitation

FIRST is by far a better competition than battle bots, we can all see that. FIRST not only lets you build a robot, but you can also make animations, have sprit teams, design graphics…

At battlebots IQ you see none of these things, and in fact thier robots arent very technical. In the finals there were 2 wedges squaring off. I highly doubt that in a first robot all you will see is a drive train. You wont see technologically advaced machines like thw wildstang robot out there. Infact i doubt that most of the robots were even programmed past the default program. There werent any interesting control systems. And after walking around in the pits i could say that there are basically no sensors on any of the robots. So one could say they are just R/C Vehicles on steriods.

In the article it talks about the first team who competed in BBIQ and how after being pulverized it was KOed. What they dont talk about is that they had come back from being basically pulverized into a big piece of bent alumninum 2 times and came back. If you looked at thier robot it was basically a FIRST robot with armour. It was made from T slot extrusions and Wheelchair wheels. Of all of the robots they took the biggest beating. Now why did i tell you all of this? Because they used what they learned in FIRST made the mos basic first robot and they did amazinly well. So our robots are tough and complex at the same time.

I went to battlebots IQ in orlando and the atmosphere is almost an inverse of waht it is like at our competition. The crowd just sits there and watches. There were a few kids from Combbat there and anyone that has seen them at a compettion knows they have some of the best spirit. I dont think they had a team there, but when YMCA came on they all got up and did one of thier coordinated dances. And the crowd was stuned they all sat there as they danced and took pictures like it was a show. Now for us at a FIRST competiton we see crazy things like that all day long.

I think that BBIQ is good because it educates people on building basic robots and inspires some kids to go into engineering. But FIRST is by far the superior competiton, and even if battle bots has more appeal to the average joe. but FIRST competitors are FAR from the average, we learn so much from this competition and we have so much fun that any educator can see that FIRST is better. Most of the BBIQ robots dont have the quality of sponsors liek we have, so the corperations that are out there see that FIRST is better too. And i dont care if i dont go on TV cause i will build a robot anyway.


Mr Van, I don’t think FIRST “lost” anything.

You say Battlebots is winning because people know more about them than about us.


People like to watch those fake wrestling too, and it doesn’t mean that’s nice.

Although I know about a veteran FIRST team that went to battlebots, I don’t believe they will find the same spirit there, the same targets, the same visions of what is happening.

It’s wrong talking about a “FIRST vs. Battlebots” competition. I believe these are pretty different things and shouldn’t be compared.

Yeah, we know what you mean. I personally didn’t attend the competition (I’m not really a BB fan, and I had a busy day anyway), but I heard all the YMCA and snakeriding stories. It struck me as business as usual, until they started talking about how everyone stared at them like they were crazy, but nobody joined in.
FIRST may not end up as widely known as Battlebots, but that doesn’t say much. I guess we’ll just end up like diehard fans of a really good band that doesn’t get the exposure they deserve.
Battlebots is to FIRST as N*Sync is to The Velvet Teen

Unfortunately, by its very nature, the mission to change society requires widespread attention. I think it would help if we could get better media coverage (for instance, getting ESPN to air us again or have a team that specifically pays attention to local news crews and prevents them from calling us “Robot Wars” or “Battling Bots” or anything like that)

Remember good ol’ Beta Max (am I that old?)

Beta Max was a much better product than VHS for all your recording needs. But VHS became more popular.

Let’s say FIRST is better than BBIQ. That doesn’t mean it will do better in the long run.

I worry that the game is too confusing to anybody who didn’t spend 6 weeks of their life on it.
I worry that it is too expensive.
I worry that it isn’t as well known, although it’s been around more than 3 times as long.

Then again, ask the students I work for, and they would say I worry too much anyway.


I agree with Digo on this one. It seems to me that FIRST and Battlebots are totally different things. Battlebots was made to build machines to go beat each other around for fun. It’s cool (at least for a while). FIRST was made to inspire students about engineering and technology in general. Battlebots will probably never compare to the amount of learning that is in FIRST.

Even if more people know about Battlebots and the like, I don’t think FIRST has lost anything.

*Originally posted by Not2B *
**Let’s say FIRST is better than BBIQ. That doesn’t mean it will do better in the long run. **

Another Example: Microsoft :slight_smile:

My $0.03

In all honestly, I don’t think that there is really a threat to anything here. Sure, both programs have different goals and are using robotics in order to accomplish it. FIRST is for futhering engineering education and to show what students are really capable of; battlebots is merely for entertainment of the masses. I don’t think either threatens the other.

FIRST is great program, but television audiances aren’t ready for it. I mean look at what battlebots has become compared to what it used to be back in the day before when you had to actually order it on pay per view. The quality of the fights has dropped significantly since its airing on comedy central. This is the complete opposite of FIRST which in my opinion is doing better than ever. Battlebots is forced to accomedate audiances to get ratings while FIRST does not. Therefore there are no outside influences really trying to change what FIRST is trying to do.
My Two Cents.

Guys, this is the first BattleBots IQ competition EVER. If you want to compare it to FIRST, compare it to the '92 competition with 28 teams in a gym…or better yet don’t compare them at all.

What you’re totally missing about BattleBots and BattleBots IQ is that you have the freedom to make any robot you’d like. You have the freedom to do as much or little learning as you’d like; the same can be said of FIRST. Woodie even said it himself, “the educational merits of participating in First and in BattleBots IQ could ‘be quite equivalent’.”

And the fact is, the BBIQ team that I coached had an awesome time. This was the first robot (thing, RC car, whatever) that they had ever built and I could see in them that same new-found confidence that I felt after my first year in FIRST.


Like a moth to a flame……better yet…from Don Quixote… “….march into hell for a heavenly cause”

Consider this….

Why would anyone want to deny some kids the thrill, excitement and empowerment that they worked so hard to enjoy and obviously got from the BB IQ competition this past May?

I was in that little Gymnasium in Manchester NH back when FIRST was a contest between lightweight bot’s with only 35 teams and a handful of students….brave kids willing to try something new and exciting….before it became a mainstream success.

I saw the same excitement there as I did 7 years later in the BBIQ pits…I saw passion and engagement and a celebration of the empowerment that comes to those who work hard to bring an idea, their idea, to life….I witnessed the awesome courage required to display the 3 dimensional physical embodiment of their idea, and risk probable failure in doing so…Courage, hard work and excitement….risk taking, knowing and doing…sharing, helping and celebrating…no game, no contest and certainly no person or group of people have a monopoly on those things…These are available for all to enjoy in ways they choose……it is the freedom exercised by FIRST competitors, BBIQ competitors and all other competitors in the wide diversity of venues available to them….Or are there those who would waste their time arguing that Baseball is better for the country than Lacrosse?

Tilting at windmills.

We should be teaching students not to make assumptions….in engineering as well as in life.

Folks like Dan (BSMFIRST) or Lucien (Natchez) demonstrate open mindedness about BB and FIRST and the hundreds of other engineering competitions to choose from.…

This speaks volumes about them as people and as gracious professionals. Dan and Lucien and others like them have an open mind because they work hard to keep their minds open.

Sounds simple enough right?

Not so.

Keeping an open mind takes a lot of effort. Open minded people serve as good examples. We would all do well to pay particular attention to them. We should all practice keeping an open analytical mind about the things we DO and THINK about.

The practice of adopting, believing in, or voicing strong opinions about ideas or methods of which we have no empirical data is frowned upon in science and engineering… and it is the fuel that feeds the fires of hatred and ignorance in this already troubled world….

The common message of ALL engineering competitions, and there are hundreds, and hundreds more coming yearly, is simply this: Think the problem out before you act on it.

Accomplished scientists and engineers test theories and hypotheses.

When engineers think hard, develop mechanical concepts and then test them…they are defining themselves as professionals. Your family physician has taken promises to “Do no harm”…your mentoring engineer promises to… “Make no assumptions”.

I’d like to refer everyone who bothers to read this thread to a very exciting and illuminating, engineering website.

This site contains the course notes for the MIT Design and Manufacturing I , ME course. These notes were authored by Professor Alex Slocum…Alex runs the MIT 2.007 course…a course that was conceived by Woodie and served as the inspiration not only for FIRST, but for the process of learning engineering by DOING engineering at hundreds of universities worldwide.

If you are a teacher, then please, take the time to read the megabytes of wisdom offered in these notes! If you are a student of engineering design…then you would be unwise to miss this opportunity. If you are a practicing technical professional then you’ll enjoy Alex’s POV.

One of the key underlying points Alex makes is that good design is “Deterministic Design”. Deterministic Design is an engineering creation process founded on the scientific method. A principle stating that you cannot know something to be true unless you perform the experiment that validates the assumption. He terms these experiments BLE’s or bench level experiments…but the point remains constant, good robust designs come from ideas that have been tested ……not from assumptions.

Alex’s philosophy inspired the creation of a BattleBots IQ educational website,

BB and FIRST are experiments……(refer to all of the above) If you haven’t done the experiments…you don’t have the data. Once you have the data…the conclusions you reach are all yours….

I try to offer points and counter points, not to champion one experiment over the other, but rather to keep the river of ideas flowing…and to break down the “Beaver Dams” of opinion and assumption.

Good and bad are subjective concepts with regard to robots. …but facts are worth pursuing in the quest for any objective…

Here is some data gleaned from experiments my students and I have performed.

1.) All BattleBots are not catastrophically damaged during a BattleBots event….in fact most are not catastrophically damaged during an event…and they go home happy and no worse for the experience. We are currently building our 3rd and 4th BB. Intelligent designers insure their robots have “Mouth guards, shoulder pads and Locktite on their nuts.” These machines are built to score points and to absorb mechanical energy…remember, it is often necessary to win up to 8 matches in order to claim the silver nut.
2.) All robots break during competition. That’s why we have machine shops and spare parts at the FIRST competition sites and in the BBIQ Pits.
3.) FIRST is about Inspiration and Recognition, and that is a good thing. FIRST and BBIQ are different “Experiments”.
4.) BattleBots IQ is about education. BBIQ is a student centered program that recognizes the benefits of learning through active participation and recognizes the educational benefits of failure. BBIQ teachers and engineering mentors sign a registration form attesting to the fact that the BBIQ robots were wholly designed and built by students….not by teachers or mentors…as I’ve pointed out, this does not make BBIQ better or worse than FIRST, It’s just a different experiment. It’s like shop class used to be…but these are not bird houses! (Although I love building bird houses)
5.) As an educator responsible for the emotional and social well being of the students under my charge, I see no difference in the “Crowds” at either event…I’ve seen good and bad sportsmanship all my life…the “Bell Curves” remain constant…my son and his friends are in my class, and on our BBIQ engineering team!.
6.) And finally, hatred and ignorance are born and cultivated by people, not by sumo robot programs, soccer playing robot programs, BattleBots or FIRST or any other engineering program designed to celebrate designing, thinking or being like an engineer.

We should all visit again 10 years from now…FIRST, BB and the many versions of mechanized competition that will follow will be markedly different. They will all evolve to meet the needs and expectations of the participants. They will all improve, and the levels of sophistication will be extraordinary. Witness the birth of home computing in the late 70’s and early 80’s…I still have a Trash 80….anyone have a Sinclair? Look at basketball, first played in Worcester Massachusetts with 11 players on a team and no dribbling….

In closing I am willing to risk the following statements in an effort to counter the bias and deconstruction of communication I am witnessing on this and other forums….and to “Raise the bar…of gracious professionalism”…

There is nothing to FEAR about FIRST or BBIQ…fear is born of ignorance. These are mechanized competitions that allow portals for a wide variety of learning and doing engineering activities for a wide audience of students. There is room, even a necessity for a wider diversity of mechanized competitions.

We need MORE venues like FIRST or BBIQ….not less. We need people to celebrate and embrace and to create the widening concept of mechanized sports, We do not need folks willing to force (unfavorable) comparisons or fabricate facts. And we decidedly do not need people actively polarizing issues and aggravating each others sensibilities with poorly worded “Polls” or posts that only serve to support the growing bias towards robot games that are not like nor intended to be like FIRST.

The things we like or choose to do, should not be defined as the “Best Thing” by making something else the “Bad Thing”……This is important for kids to understand, and adults should not use assumptions and opinions to appeal to the loyalty of children…This is true of fans on both sides of this fence.

I love what both of these programs, as well as many other engineering programs, are doing for schools and education in this country…and I love showing my students that they can exercise choice, do the experiments, and then decide for themselves.

Good luck to all of you who are attending the FIRST nationals! Play, break, win or loose…enjoy what all of these programs are really about…enjoy thinking, being gracious in victory and defeat, and remember…you learn as much from failures (or more) than you do from success!

Be gracious professionals in everything you do…on and off the robot playing field!


Mr. B

It’s good to hear from you. You are still an inspiration to many of us. Keep up the good work.

I totally agree with your opinion that BBIQ and FIRST can co-exist and thrive.

Kudos to you and the other BBIQ folks who are putting on a successful program. For me, I’ll stick with FIRST… but I will also applaud those who want to “play” a different way.

Andy B.

Excellent post Mr B. It’s good to see a well thought out & positive post in a BB thread instead of people putting down something they have little first hand knowledge of.

I have never seen BB in person, only the dramatized show on CC, but I hear that the pits are much like FIRST: friendly teams willing to share and help their fellow competitors. I refuse to put down a program I have no real knowledge of.

Continue to stop by the board and offer your wonderful insight. It’s a refreshing departure from the BB vs FIRST bickering.

Something to think about: how gracious is it to tear down another person in order to build yourself up?


To Mr. B, Nola, Lucien, and others – I agree with Mr. B that being open minded is important and crucial. However, just because some people do not feel BB and BBIQ are positive programs, I think it is unfair to brand them as close minded. It is possible they have weighed the pros & cons of each program and have just come to a different, non biased conclusion as you have. For some in this thread, it is virtually impossible to argue an unbiased and fair comparison of FIRST to BB or BBIQ, as they are employed/paid by BB and BBIQ, just as the arguments of FIRST employees would be equally biased – it is only natural when looking at a debate to get “defensive” and “defend” the program you are associated with and maybe over look some of it’s problems.

Please excuse the length of this post: We have read all the arguments in favor/against each program and a group of us have spent a lot of time/thought trying to combine all our thoughts into this one reply (adults – thanks for the proof reading and helping us put some ideas in a more sophisticated tone) :slight_smile: ….

We are starting a robotics program/team at our school next year. We researched BOTH programs in great detail, have watched videos/TV of both competitions, and have interviewed participants of BOTH programs – and we feel that both competitions have positive aspects. Let us share with you how/why our school has deemed one program to be of much higher value than the other:

In all the arguments about the two programs, we have concluded that a few things are true about each program:

BOTH FIRST and BB/BBIQ encourage and promote science, technology, and engineering.

BOTH FIRST and BB/BBIQ provide great, exciting, and fun competitions that celebrate what the students/teams have built.

We have also found a few criticisms of each program to be slanted/unfair/inaccurate:

Size constraints:
Some have criticized FIRST for not having a National Competition open to ALL. We called BBIQ, and they told us that there would be a cap for their National Event if hundreds of participants ever enter (but they only got in the mid 40’s). BBIQ will also limit the size of their events, just as FIRST does. This is not the fault of EITHER program – it is just logistics and reality.
We have concluded both are the same/equal in this category.

Student/engineer involvement:
FIRST students DO participate and build the robots just as much as BB students. Do some teams have the engineers do a majority of the work, yes. Do some engineers do most of the work on FIRST teams AND BB teams, yes. Is it up to each team to decide how much design/build/machining work the students do? Yes. So the argument that one program includes the students more is worthless in our judgment, as it is up to each team to decide (and in each competition our team would go up against robots built almost entirely by engineers – which we don’t mind and consider a challenge). We don’t want the students to do this alone – that is what a science fair is. We want to learn concepts and designs which we don’t currently have the education & experience to do – hopefully we can do this hand in hand with real engineers who will build a robot with us and hopefully we will learn things from the engineers and they will learn things from us.
We have concluded both are the same/equal in this category.

Cost of each program:
“BBIQ is cheaper than FIRST” – untrue. The guise of only costing $100 appears nice. But we have called and spoke to numerous teams in each competition. Once BBIQ teams include the cost of the control system, motors, speed controllers, and other things which come with the FIRST registration fee – the cost is similar. BBIQ teams told us their budgets JUST on the robots (without travel) were 5-10k. FIRST is actually cheaper than BBIQ because we can compete in a regional event and don’t have to travel to another part of the country to compete – so it is actually 5-10k LESS for us to participate in. Plus, FIRST gives us the OPTION of ALSO qualifying for and raising the funds for a National Competition – our choice if we qualify.
We have concluded both are the same/equal in this category if we compete in the National Championship, but that FIRST is cheaper if we compete in one event.

BBIQ promotes the possibility of being on TV and/or getting royalties if our robots are made into toys. This is cool, and a point for BBIQ. FIRST promotes over 2 million dollars of scholarships available to students on FIRST teams. This is cool and a point for FIRST. We have also concluded that the money carrot dangled by BBIQ is dependent on their ratings and sponsors (which will not be around once the ratings go down since BB’s is a for profit endeavor 1st while FIRST is a non-profit “for the kids” endeavor 1st) while the scholarships offered by FIRST are more likely to continue to exist and in fact increase each year.
We have concluded both are almost the same/equal in this category - slight advantage to BB in terms of getting on TV and slight advantage to FIRST in terms of financial rewards (scholarships are more important/valuable than money payoffs, and are more likely to be around for years to come as they are dependent on ratings).

And last, as concluded by our administration (principal) after looking at both of our proposals – which program promotes the right values and sends the right message:

Both programs require the students to learn science & technology skills, however the end product/message of the two programs are different. The end product is displayed at the competition. The FIRST competition displays alliances, teamwork, good sportsmanship, rules, and excitement - but in a competitive sports “team” model where the teams are encouraged to outperform/out score the other alliance. She decided that FIRST encourages kids to “raise the bar” and “challenges the team to improve upon the designs/ideas/advancements made by other teams”. She decided that the BB and BBIQ competitions display “one on one” combat where the only “guaranteed” way to be victorious is to destroy/disable/hurt/kill your opponent. She feels BB and BBIQ promote the “solution to the problem is violence – hurt/disable/kill your opponent to be victorius” while FIRST promotes the “solution to the problem is teamwork, raising the bar, and doing better than your opponent without having to hurt/disable/destroy them”. She said that while the first 90% of both programs (FIRST and BBIQ) are similar and promote/encourage science, technology, and engineering – the last 10%, the product displayed to the public at the competitions and on TV sends a different message.
In sports terms:
the finished product for FIRST comes across as the Olympics – celebrates training, raising the bar, good sportsmanship, and positive values.
The finished product of BB and BBIQ comes across as the WWF, a %%%%/rooster fight, or a pit bull fight – and celebrates winning by disabling/hurting/killing your opponent. She says as a principal, she would be fired and liable for supporting/condoning students participating in a %%%%/rooster fight or pit bull fight and that if you put roosters or pit bulls in a Battlebots arena instead of robots – that is EXACLTY what the competition is (except that it is combined with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where a third party controls chain saws which also try to kill the combatants – would be like a referee in sports being able to randomly hit the participants with a hammer or chainsaw).
Our school concluded (and our students agree after looking at both programs with what we consider an “open minded, researched, and informed” analysis) that FIRST is a positive program for our school to participate in which also promotes the right values and message to our students.
We have concluded that FIRST is clearly a better option and program for our students in this category.

We hope this came across as an “open minded” analysis of each program and pointed out the many similarities between the two. We have spent many months considering both programs. Basically – both programs are very equal except that BB and BBIQ have “kill saws” and encourage us to find a way to disable/destroy/or kill our opponent. As students, we see enough one on one “disagreements” at school solved after school or during lunch by fighting and trying to hurt the other person to be the “winner”. FIRST seems to hold more positive values and is more challenging (more engineering tasks to conquer each year + the game changes each year which we find much more appealing). If BB and BBIQ changed their competition to have “civil/sportsmanship” rules, encourage solutions not based on violence, and changed the game each year - our school and especially us students would love to participate in it. But until then, we will opt for FIRST – just our conclusion, and everyone has the right to analyze each program and decide whatever they want. Both programs can co-exist, just as Olympic Wrestling and the WWF co-exist – they just promote different skills, different values, and get different media coverage. As much as they want to promote the similar positive aspects BB/BBIQ provide when compared to FIRST - we don’t think BB/BBIQ supporters can deny that their end product (competition) sends a message of “violence as the solution to a problem” while FIRST does the opposite. Again, sorry for the length, we just thought what we felt is an “open minded” analysis of the debate might hold some value to some people. Maybe not.

Thanks for having a forum everyone can post their views - it has helped us as we start our team.

Frank and team 000 until a few months from now. (we’ll be watching the National on NASA TV!!! - Good luck everyone)