Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Inspiring students, one robot at a time.

Editing Notebooks


Jennifer Dickhans (Event Partner)
31-Jan-2024

As part of judging at a recent tournament, we were informed that a team had gotten a notebooker after the start of the season. The notebooker had redone the whole notebook. There was a question as to whether a team can redo or edit a notebook either when a notebooker was added to a team later or to improve upon their notebook for future tournaments.

When I look at the current guide to judging, it states that the entries should be unedited with no pages removed or omitted and each page should be chronologically dated. For an outstanding notebook, the notebook begins at the first team meeting with dated entries.

Engineering Notebooks should contain these elements: Team number on the cover/beginning of document. Errors crossed out using a single line (so errors can be seen) Unedited entries All pages/entries intact; no pages/entries or parts of pages/entries removed or omitted. Each page/entry chronologically numbered and dated. Each page/entry signed or initialed by a student author. Team meeting notes as they relate to the design process. Permanently affixed pictures, CAD drawings, documents, examples of code, or other material relevant to the design process (in the case of physical notebooks, tape is acceptable, but glue is preferred)

Outstanding Engineering Notebooks should contain these additional elements: Table of contents Entries are dated with the names of contributing students included. Notebook begins with the first team meeting. Descriptions, sketches, and pictures of design concepts and the design process Observations and thoughts of team members about their design and their design process Records of tests, test results, and evaluations of specific designs or design concepts Project management practices including their use of personnel, financial, and time resources. Notes and observations from competitions to consider in the next design iteration. Descriptions of programming concepts, programming improvements, or significant programming modifications Enough detail that a person unfamiliar with the team’s work would be able to follow the logic used by the team to develop their design, and recreate the robot design using only the Engineering Notebook

I have always told my teams to take ownership of not only their robot, but their notebook. Showing that you have learned how to notebook and improve is good to show judges. If they just loose notebook format points by going out of chronological order or editing entries, that may not be enough to deter this.

Does editing past entries or redoing a notebook violate the rules for the Engineering Notebook? If so, what are the consequences? Is it considered a violation of a game rule? Is the notebook not considered for judging? Does the team just loose the notebook format points? Some teams may choose to loose notebook format to gain points in other categories. Do they loose points for originality since they did not start at the beginning stages of their design?

Answered by Competition Judging Committee
13-Feb-2024

It is the hope that Engineering Notebook entries are done in sequence with the design process and are a genuine representation of student work. In other words, if a notebook entry was made by a student on the team, then another student would not go in after the fact and "enhance" that entry; the notebook exists as an insight into the engineering design process and progress made by its authors. If some ideas in the notebook were going to be expanded upon or reorganized for the sake of clarity, our hope is that both the "original" and the "updated" entries would co-exist in the notebook, to show not only evidence of progress in the engineering design process, but in notebooking and documenting as well.

In reality, confirming the editing or backdating of entries is next to impossible, and likely not a productive endeavor. We do not feel it is appropriate for the Judging Process to become bogged down with detective work, especially with the lack of concrete evidence to be found in most cases. As with all Judged awards, there is a level of subjectivity in the selection of the final award nominees to account for qualitative factors that may not be so easily considered in a quantitative or boolean assessment.