Kick-Off Worksheets

Anybody have any worksheets or guides to help guide team members through brainstorming on Kickoff day? We’ve had a problem in the past of nobody spending enough time on the manual and I know there are many teams that spend the entire first day going through the manual and brainstorming. I’m looking for some paperwork to help us work through that.

Thanks for sharing!.

My team doesn’t have paperwork per-say for kickoff day, but we have a test that students must take in order to be on pit-team, meaning they can come on the sleep-aways and be in the pit with the team. The test is very difficult, and requires the students to read the manual to really understand the game. ::rtm::

Just a suggestion, and this can also help with students being able to answer questions for judges while in the pit.

In my opinion, the first few days should consist of reading through the manual, understanding the game and the constraints, posing any questions that may need further clarification (from Mentors or FIRST), and digesting all of the information for that day.

In all honesty, robot design should not be discussed really at all until mid to late week 1 (again, this is my own opinion, so do not take this to heart).

In terms of paperwork, I cannot necessarily help you out, but I can recommend you create some incentive to read the manual thoroughly, such as creating a test the night of kickoff for students to take first thing in the next days meeting, and the person with the highest test scores get something in return.

After taking the test, go through each answer and explain what the answer was and where to find it in the manual. This will also get students acquainted with navigating through the manual as well.

It is difficult to get students to follow the engineering process, but when you do, great things happen.

Here’s a thread from last year on some general kickoff strategies.

The most important thing immediately after kick-off is to have the team read and understand the manual. If they don’t, any discussion regarding design or game strategy won’t make much sense.

I thought the most important thing right after kickoff was to have a credit card and a solid internet connection handy to buy all the game pieces before they sell out.

Yes, the list of To-Do items for kickoff day is as follows:

  1. Read the rules. All of them.
  2. Generate trade study charts and brainstorm game strategy approaches, including order-of-magnitude scoring estimations
  3. Inventory entire KoP, contact FIRST with any missing parts if applicable.
  4. Configure the entire new Control System and mount to a dev board
  5. Generate a list of materials to prototype with and build field elements with, and must-have parts to buy (either from hardware store or AM), purchase parts the next day

On kickoff day, we have at least 5 separate brainstorming parties where 3-10 people go to someone’s house and brainstorm, so we all look the manual to address questions that come up. If you have kids in groups like that they’ll probably have a good grasp of the game.

Quick question, is this strategy brainstorming, or design brainstorming? Cybersonics did a similar thing a few years back, but it was purely strategy discussion brainstorming as well as reading and understanding the manual.

Both, I had one at my house last year and we talked a lot about whether we would want to catch, and how important assists would be, but then after we came up with some shooter/intake ideas. The idea is just to have somewhat refined, but diverse ideas for the full team strategy&design brainstorming meeting.

There are lots of ways to get started. We try to first understand the rules of the game, then talk about how to play the game. After we have a good idea of what we want the robot to be able to do, then we go over the robot rules to see what is allowed, and brainstorm robot design ideas.

I see. We tried not to get into design in our early post-kickoff meetings. We brainstormed designs and, “Decided,” as a team, so our meetings consisted mostly of strategy discussions. Interesting to hear what other teams do.

While it’s not the first thing you should discuss, brainstorming robot designs (via rough sketches) based on the strategy designs discussed can help constrain the problem (for example, could we even build something capable of achieving all desired functions given robot dimensions and weight).

Also, I like the students to think about mechanism design ideas before the “Robot in 3 days” reveal videos come out. Once that happens it seems like creativity becomes more restricted

We break our students into small groups and ask them to calculate the maximum number of points possible in a match.
This requires team members to look carefully at the game rules, scoring values, multipliers and time constraints.

Then we ask them to analyze the game pieces/field features and how we can manipulate/overcome them.
This requires team members to start thinking about the mechanical systems.

Then we ask them to rank the attributes that they think will be most desirable for the Robot. This helps to establish priorities.

Then we watch Ri3d. :rolleyes:

ok…then read all the rules :wink:

As has been mentioned before - make sure everyone understands the rules.
This is my mental worksheet:

List every possible way to score points in this game:

Are there any opportunities to directly reduce your opponent’s score?

What forms of defense are disallowed?

How many phases of the game are there? What is their order and general significance?

What are the game pieces? What do you know about their size/weight/geometry/material?

What can the human player do? E.g. do they assist the robot in collecting game pieces directly or indirectly?

Is there a maximum possible score?

What ways are there to get a penalty?

What rules don’t make sense? Use the Glossary and the Find feature on the PDF to find related rules until it does make sense.

If everyone understands these, then your Strategy discussions will be much more productive.
Important strategy questions include:

What are the necessary steps for scoring? E.g. Human player introduces game piece, Game Piece collection by the machine, traversing the field, placing/scoring the piece, returning to human player

What are the variations for each of these steps? E.g. human player loading vs ground loading

Estimate how much time that each of these variations will take - act out the operations and time it

Using these time estimates, you can get an estimate of the total time that it takes to score from start to finish. This is a crucial number because it gives you a ballpark for a lot of useful info: how many scoring cycles will probably be in a match, what a typical match score total will be, the point/time efficiency of variations, etc.

That’s my first pass at a sort of worksheet to get through the first day or so. From there, it’s up to you to identify different strategies and evaluate them.
When you have a handle on good strategies -and not a minute before - then you can start talking about robot design.
The teams that I have been on have wisely banned discussion of particular robot designs until at least the second day - ensuring that students (and mentors) don’t get swept up in their brilliant robot ideas and miss crucial rules or other strategies. I suggest that everyone have plenty of paper handy so that they can save robot design ideas for later discussions.

I would suggest looking at the Simbotics Strategy Seminar You could probably take their slides on the subject and basically turn that into a checklist.

We usually just tell our groups to come up with the most crazy, off-the-wall, completely impossible ideas possible. Come back together as a team, present as a group to the team, and break up again. We do this a couple times.

The first hour or so in our divided groups is usually just a “what do we need to do” and “how is the gameplay going to look like?”

The second meeting is where the specific, impossible ideas come from.

We usually see some trending themes throughout our groups.

We always say it’s better to tone down a crazy impossible idea than to build up a bad one :wink:


I generally recommend reading this paper around this time of year. I always re-read it the night before kickoff. It is so easy to jump to step four - unless you are paying specific attention not to, you’ll find your team jumping to conclusions about the game. Those first three steps really drive the direction the rest of the season goes. (Even in this thread, I see a lot of skipping step one.)

A great brain exercise to do (in step four) is to determine the Minimum Competitive Concept. Frequently, once you identify the simplest robot that can still be competitive in the game, you can then tweak and improve it to meet your specifications (step 2). This is basically what 33 did in 2014.

When thinking about robot designs, I often think in terms of elevators, and polycord, and four bars, and shooter wheels. Another valuable thought experiment is to draw the robot size box on paper and try to optimize the travel path of the game piece through the robot without considering mechanisms. You can often zero in on how you want the robot to interact with game pieces this way. This is also a fantastic way to directly engage newer students beyond “having them come up with crazy ideas”. Team 33s 2013 robot was partially the result of this thought experiment.

Cheers, Bryan

This is the process we use. It has been derived from the process illustrated in the 1114 information and my own experience.

Game Analysis Process - 2015.docx (23.7 KB)

Game Analysis Process - 2015.docx (23.7 KB)