View Kit first or Learn Game first?

Vote for this question:
Does your team open the kit right away or do you learn the game first?

Post for this question:
When do you think the kit should be opened and why?

Our advisor doesn’t let us open it until he is sure we fully understand the game which is usually not until the evening of the kickoff. Is this fair? I would like to open it right away to see what cool stuff we get. I like to know what we have to work with. Last year, I was designing coaxial crab systems and venturis before lunch on Kickoff day. You wait a whole year, and then you have the kit, but have to wait another day? C’mon.

I think it depends on the experience level of the team. If your team is new, then it is very helpful to see what is provided, because that helps focus your thinking. However, if you are a vetran team, strategy is more important. In that case, looking at the kit distracts you from the stratedy and makes you look at way too many details.

i would love to say that stratagy is the most important but my experiance everyone wants to see what you got it is like chanukah (or christmas) not knowing what you are going to get and just like those holidays things like to be played with…i also think that seeing and holding the parts even for an experienced team help the creative process

opening the kit first seriously corrupts your thinking.

The first step of the engineering design cycle is to determine WHAT it is you need to do to win the game - this has NOTHING to do with what is in the kit of parts

keep the box closed - think outside the box of parts - when you know WHAT your team must do to score the most points, THEN you can start thinking about HOW you are going to do that.

for example - in last years game the big WHAT turned out to be getting to the wall as fast as possible, pushing boxes around, and dominating the top of the ramp at the end

if you are thinking about motors and actuators and cylinders at the WHAT stage, you are corrupting your design goals with implementation details.

If you decide that getting to the wall first is the most important thing your bot needs to do, then it doesnt matter whats in the box of parts, someHOW you will come up with a way to make it happen.

Um. Am I the only person who advocates opening the kit immediately to inventory everything? You wouldn’t want to strategize for a few days, and then open the kits, and realize that you’re missing your robot controller, drill motors, a CIM, your light, and/or any other important pieces.

Ever since I took the reins of Team #258 in 2002 I’ve had our kids inventory the kit of parts as soon as we get back to our school. I think most people would agree that it’s a good thing to let FIRST know what you’re missing (if you’re missing anything) as soon as possible, rather than towards the end of the first week or later. Maybe I’m a little paranoid about getting parts because of some SPI issues in 2000 and 2001, but I would still rather err on the side of immediately disclosing to FIRST what, if anything is missing from our kit.

As for opening the kit corrupting peoples’ designing abilities… I happen to disagree with this. Just because you have opened your kit, doesn’t mean that your every thought is tantamount to “what am I going to do with this motor?” or “motor A is useful for x mechanisms, therefore it must only be used for x mechanisms.” Besides, usually when something in the kit changes, you’ll hear it during the kickoff, or someone will immediately post it on these message boards. I agree that strategy is best done without pegging a specific motor or actuator to a mechanism, but I don’t think that this necessarily follows when you open your kit before you begin to strategize. I think that you can open your kit, play with the pieces, and strategize all at the same time. It makes no sense to me to deprive your team from seeing the kit for any non-necessary (transportation) amount of time.

Our team opens the kit up once the people sent to a remote kickoff to get the stuff get it (we haven’t had it shipped to us ever - with the addition of RIT’s kickoff, the kit pickup location is now very close).

But since that is not immediate, the rest of us SHOULD (COUGH) be spending the day analyzing the game rules and developing strategies and ideas to be used the following week for brainstorming. It’s such a waste of time to explain the game to members on Monday when they have Sat/Sun to look at everything. More motivation!!!

We split our team in half, experience and new members. The new members get the first crack at the kit. It allows them to see what they have to work with and get an idea on what we can do with the parts given. Our experienced members go right into the rules and strategy, becuase we generally know the “givens” in the kit and what they can do. We then switch the groups. After that we just sit down and talk and draw for a few hours before calling it quits. My team feels its better for the new members to touch and see everything first and let them worry about the more complicated parts of the game later where the expienced members can guide them better on where to go.

Once we are allowed to open the kit, one of our engineers would give a presentation piece by piece explaning what it is, how it works, and what it can be used for. Now that that engineer doesn’t have the time to help us out anymore, that will be my job. Yay!

We always open the kit sometime during our first strategy meeting. We do it mainly to inventory what we have and make sure it’s all there, but also to see if there’s any cool new stuff. From a strategy standpoint, though, we don’t even begin talking about pieces and parts until we have a general plan laid down. Everyone can look at the kit to get an idea of what we have to work with, but initial design is always concepts only. You can think strategically without having to keep the kit closed and out of sight. Just opening the box shouldn’t magically turn everyone’s minds to pneumatics and motors. If you always approach the design with a strategic eye, not one of implementation, you shouldn’t have to worry about corrupting your thinking. It’s all about the mental control (or the mentor standing up front saying “we don’t care what you’re building it with… what do you want it to DO?”) :wink:

See since we have a few adult mentors/advisors go to NH for the kickoff we dont as a team see the kit of parts until the day after kickoff. The first thing that is nomally done though is an inventory of everything and see what is new and whats missing (if anything). This is normally done with a look dont touch policy with not many students even looking at the parts. I personally think that if you know what you can and cant use thats all you need to know to stratagize, because truthfully the kit of parts does make me loose thoughts alot due to the point that there is all the stuff and almost all of it is from a predesigned/preengineered item and i dont want to reverse engineer our robot…

where are all the engineers in this thead?!

I dont see a problem with one or two people taking inventory on the parts right off the bat- thats what you do if you goto a remote site and pick up the parts in person, check the list to make sure nothing is missing, cause they can replace them on the spot

but if the kit was shipped to you and something is missing, they can fedex it to you overnight if necessary

but either way, the question isnt about inventory, its about ‘looking’ at the parts - and I stand by my original statement - its not POSSIBLE for any human being to look at a box full of cool parts, and then decide to NOT think about what they just looked at.

or to put it another way, if you aregoing to look at all the cool stuff in the kit, but you are going to mentally discipline yourself to not think about any of it while you try to decide WHAT your robot needs to do - then what is the point of looking at the parts on the first day then?! if you are not going to use that information, why are you spending time accumulating it (looking at the kit?)

I agree the kit needs to be inventoried. All the motors, controls and pnuematics also need to be tested - but the whole team doesnt need to do this, and the most important team effort is analysing the game and spec’ing out the big WHAT - because once you have decided WHAT you need to do to win, and WHAT your bot needs to do functionally, you cant go back and change your mind in a week or two - there is no time for that

establishing the WHAT is the cornerstone - the foundation on which the rest of the project will succeed or fail - you have to get the WHAT right - it should be the one task your whole team works on together and this IS the 1st thing you need to do to begin the engineering design cycle - anybody playing with the kit of parts during this critical time period is goofing off! :^)

Our team will already have a fair idea of what was in the KOP last year. We do demos throughout the fall of things like how to calculate the torque a motor will generate, how the pneumatics hook up, calculating how much force they will exert. We tailor all the examples to motors that were available last year, so that by the end of the fall, the new students have a fair idea of what is in the KOP.

However, some of the design things we do helps with outside the box thinking. We will meet and watch kickoff together as a team. There will be some talk afterwards, but most people will head home then. A group of people will be tasked to create a real rough playing field/objects for the next day. Then we StuBot. Have students play the game as if they were the robots to help learn the rules, and see what strategies appear to work. Invariably, someone will do something that others didn’t see as an option to do and the others eyes will light up with a :yikes:

Around day two or so, we will get into groups of 4-5, and give out pieces of paper with random things written on them. Umbrella, clown, hammer, comb, speaker, case of Mt Dew, really random stuff. From these, create as many ways to play the game as possible, Rube Goldberg style. Then you pick one and share it with the team as a whole. Lots of crazy things come out, but something will spark a thought for the realistic.

We send some adults to the remote kickoff and the kit of parts is usually back at the shop that afternoon. We immediately open it and inventory it, but not as a team. If there is cool new stuff, like a new motor, the word spreads quickly through the team, like we got a cool new present from Santa Kamen. :slight_smile:

So a mix of the two. We teach the basics of the KOP during the fall, but the first few days after the game is announced learning the game is priority one.


For Veteran teams I agree that the best thing to do is delegate a subteam to do inventory and LEAVE THE PARTS ALONE. If you were paying attention during the Kickoff you will already know roughly how much power is available (ie what motors are there).

Last year we did not open the kit until after we had a concept for the robot. We did all of our “back of the envelope” calculations based on past experience, spec sheets in the documentation, and the parts list.

For a rookie team I’d recommend the same strategy, but I think it would be hard to implement. Kind of like putting a big box under the tree and saying “Here it is, but instead of opening it on Christmas you’ll have to wait until Boxing Day” to a six year old. The distraction caused by the anticipation may not be worth it.

The poll needs another option:
My team isn’t organized. It is simply a mess.

Half my team opens the kit and rummages through it and the other half discusses strategy. Its a mess.