As always, I am very thankful for the REC Foundation's efforts to give our students a great robotics season. I appreciate your efforts to change with the times and make adjustments based on the unusual circumstances we’ve had to deal with over the last two seasons. Your efforts are seen and appreciated. Thank you!
With that said, I wanted to respectfully share a concern regarding the new judging guide and rubric. There are some changes that I appreciate, as well as one change that seems very unfair to the students. I’d like to share my concern with hopes you will reconsider. According to the guide, 5 points will no longer be awarded for a bound, handwritten notebook. Instead, the rubric says that it will be awarded to notebooks with a confirmed time stamp. If this rule was declared and shared when the new game came out, that would be fine. The problem is that some teams have been handwriting notebooks for over three months. It is now possible that these teams will not be able to have a confirmed time-stamped notebook since the rule was changed partway into the season. It seems grossly unjust to punish teams who have been putting in their time while keeping a contemporaneous record of their design and building process. Some teams have already written over 100 pages. Why? Because that has always been what the REC Foundation desired. These students, who would prefer to type their notebook, have been diligently working at it for over three months, only to be told that the rules have been changed on them. The simple, fair, and reasonable fix would be to add the 5 points for a handwritten, bound notebook back into the rubric since that is what the rubric required when the season started, while also keeping the confirmed time stamp rule. For the fairness of the students, would you please reconsider?
As an event partner, I would also love clarification regarding what a "confirmed time stamp" is. According to the Judge Guide, digital notebooks have to be printed out for in-person tournaments. Maybe I'm confused about how the timestamps work, but will they show on each page if the notebook is printed out? Also, the guide says, "The 5-point bonus is applied to all Engineering Notebooks with “confirmed time stamps” regardless of the type of Engineering Notebook. The Judge Advisor will use reasonable discretion to determine whether a time stamp is chronological and will apply that standard consistently to all submissions at the event." Is a signed and dated handwritten notebook considered a "confirmed time stamp"? Or can they type rather than handwrite, and just paste it into the notebook with it signed and dated? Can that be a "confirmed time stamp"? If a date simply has to be typed into a digital notebook, what will keep a team from going back and changing their notebook throughout the season?
Thank you for hearing me out. I don’t want to be a complainer, as I know that these kinds of decisions are not easy. But I also want to be an advocate for these passionate, hardworking students. I just love this program and what it does for the kids involved! I want to see them encouraged and not discouraged. I look forward to your response.