Conveying/Explaining Aerial Assist to the Public

As the resident Public Relations/Marketing nerd in my parts, as everyone else was thinking about Aerial Assist in terms of designing the robot, my thoughts immediately went to how we’re going to easily describe this game to the public (sponsors, media/press, family, general spectators etc.) in a quick and easy fashion. Since Aerial Assist isn’t based off of a sport like in 2010, 2012, 2013 etc, I knew this was going to take a little more brain power.

So my question to the Chief Delphi Community is this: How do you plan on quickly and effectively explaining what Aerial Assist is to those that have little or no FIRST experience?

FIRST Marketing has, as usual, come up with a standard paragraph as used in their kickoff press release. However I wanted to see what others in the community were thinking of doing building on top that.

Robots throw exercise balls across the field into scoring goal, either up high or low in the corners, with additional points being awarded when a robot in another zone “assists” with scoring the ball. Bonus points are also awarded for either throwing it over the thing in the middle of the field and having it be caught.

Not as short as past years, but simple enough and gets the overall point of the game across. And honestly, I think it’s easier to explain than the coopertition bridge…

Replace “catched” with “caught”

Haha, thanks, it’s been a long day for me.

Robots score points by moving large exercise balls down the length of the field and scoring them in one of the goals. Bonus points can be earned through teamwork with allied robots on each scoring run.

Some quick dialogue followup:

(Non-FIRST-er) NFR: “what does the thing in the middle do?”
You: “If you throw the ball over it you get extra points”
NFR: “Why is it so massive if it is just a volleyball net?”
You: “No reason whatsoever”

Replace “over the thing” with “over the truss.” Looks fine other than that.

This is very good.

I think how to best explain depends on where you are and how interested the person is. If someone asks you at school or the supermarket or the like, you have more time to explain. Also, the target audience (has the person seen past events) or the location (are you standing in front of the robot) matters. Ultimately, I try to go with a one sentence description that encourages people to ask a follow up question. That way, we are having a conversation and they get to be more interested. Or if they don’t ask a question, they at least pause to let me continue.

What comes to mind for this game:

  1. At a regional competion being asked by a FLL student, parent or someone who has heard of FIRST: The robots have to pass the ball as they move down the field and get it into the goal. (audience: wants to know about this year and can see the robot/field)
  2. At work by someone who knows I volunteer with a high school that builds big robots: this year, we have toss or pass 2 foot exercise balls between the robots going down the field and then get them into a goal. (audience: wants to know about this year)
  3. At work by someone new who heard I go afterwards to “some robot thing”: Teams of high school students build a up to 5 foot tall, 120 pound robot to throw and catch a 2 foot exercise ball. At competition, they will compete in teams of 3 to throw or pass the ball to each other and score it in a goal. (audience: wants to know what is going on without any background knowledge or visual)
  4. At Maker Faire: These robots were built by high school students. They competed in the Spring to throws/pass/catch those big balls and score them in goals. Do you have any questions? (audience: varies, but most haven’t heard of FIRST. I get a little more time here because kids are usually looking at the robots and it isn’t loud like competition)

See the difference in information between these. Also note that all the descriptions are a vast simplification of the game. The idea is to give them the gist rather than describe each and every rule.

It’s just like football with two balls. Each team is trying to move the ball up the field to score. You can run it up yourself, but you get lots of extra points for handing it off or passing it on the way. You can even toss it out of bounds to the human player if things get tough on the line of scrimmage.

That’s the best syntheses I can come up with. It’s just like football.