2018 Team Information

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Email blasts will be posted here leading up to and during the competition.

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Most Recent Information is at the top.

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From our neighboring CoCo BEST hub, offering an intro programming webinar.  This material will also be presented at our Kickoff Day in one of our breakout sessions

·        Introduction to VEX control system programming, using EasyC as example

·         Date:
                
o   Thursday Sept 6th,  7pm, ~1 hour + Q&A time

·         Location:
                
o   Remote – Webex and dial in number

       o   Webex Attendee: click to join: https://ti.webex.com/ti/j.php?MTID=m4a8891ab6f537bdd2cfde5cb4dab1e94
                
                
o   Teleconference:
                                  US Toll free: 1 877 561.6828 
                                  Participant passcode: 159 983 13#  

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Email Blast #2 sent 8/29:
Hello Teams!

This is the second of several email blasts sent to all of the Dallas BEST Robotics registered teams throughout the competition.  Thanks for competing this year and we hope to provide you with a challenging and fun contest with the theme of "Current Events". 

 

Here's the schedule of milestone events.  We highly encourage your team to attend all 3 face to face events.


Game Reveal             Saturday, August 25, 11 AM               virtual - YouTube BEST Robotics
channel:   https://www.youtube.com/user/bestrobotics

Mentor Info Session    Wednesday, Sept. 5, 11:30 AM          virtual - optional 1 hour session using Texas Instruments WebEx tool (details below). 
Kickoff Day                 Saturday, September 8                      Kaufman High School, Kaufman

Demo Day                  Saturday, October 6                           Gilliam Academy, Dallas
Game Day                  Friday-Saturday, October 19-20        Newman Smith High School, Carro
llton

For teams advancing to the regional/state contest:
UIL/Texas BEST         Thu/Fri/Sat Nov 29 – Dec 1                Dr. Pepper Arena, Frisco

It’s almost time to get this thing started!  Hopefully you were able to watch the universal Game Reveal live last Saturday, or streamed later.  Now you’re ready for the BEST part – Kickoff Day!  We hope all 36 teams are still planning to compete.  We're counting on it!  But if you do have a last minute change, please let us know ASAP and don't be a 'no show' at Kickoff next Saturday.  

Please reply to this email immediately with an estimate of attendees from your team (total students and adults).  We need to hear from all 36 teams on a best guess head count by the end of this Friday (8/31).  We'll be a bit crowded this year, so a head count would be very much appreciated.  We may have to move parts of the larger teams to an overflow area.  If your team just cannot attend, in any way, shape, or form, let us know that and we’ll work out details on getting your kits delivered.  We prefer teams be represented at Kickoff, but we understand that circumstances may prevent that.  Our goal is to have full participation from all teams from Kickoff Day all the way to Game Day.

Kickoff Day Info:
Location is:
Kaufman High School, 3205 S. Houston St., Kaufman, TX  75142, about 35 miles Southeast of Dallas just off US-175. 

We’re hoping that a drive to the country and that fresh air there will do us all some good!  See attached flyers for details.  Enter the campus from Houston Street.  Busses will use the student parking lot at the rear of the school. You can follow the signs for visitor stadium parking. Teams will enter through the courtyard and check-in at the cafeteria entrance.  We will have Kaufman robotics students available to help direct teams.  Additional vehicles may park in the teachers parking area, however, building entrance will need to be through the cafeteria.

Doors open at 8:00 AM, so please don't get there too early and expect to get in.  Please do be there in time to check in and settled so we can start the briefing at 9:00.  We'll provide some breakfast items and drinks.  We should be finished with all of the Kickoff activities no later than noon.  Please commit to a Demo Day (10/6) time slot at your team check-in if you have a preference.  If you are flexible for Demo Day, let us know that and we appreciate your flexibility. 

Rookie and other teams that are pre-approved for the afternoon Build Session, please indicate your lunch break preference (‘early’ or ‘late’, and that time will float).  More details given below.

After check-in and that light breakfast, teams will proceed to the Fine Arts Center Theater for the game Briefing.  No food or drinks are permitted in the theater.  Classrooms have been reserved for breakout sessions. Room numbers for each session will provided at check-in.  The optional Afternoon Build Session will be located in Room 254 (engineering suite). This room is located on the second floor of the main building. Elevator access is available if needed.

Suggested team supplies for Kickoff:  camera, notebook, small parts sorting box (for Consumable Kit fasteners, etc.), and your programming notebook computer to get help with installation of any software.  You will have access to all of the game field drawings, part numbers, vendors, etc. from the internet, so no detailed measurements should be necessary.  We’ll provide a briefing on the game, scoring, rules, kits, and then have a game demonstration.  After then, you’ll be permitted to check out the field and ask questions while some of your team will attend the break-out sessions described below and others will be picking up the 2 issued kits.

We will not be printing out the rules this year.  You can obtain them from the national BEST Robotics, Inc. website.  See below.

You will be issued your team’s Returnable Kit (R-kit) and your Consumable Kit (C-kit).  Please be prepared to load these materials into an appropriate sized vehicle.  The largest pieces are some 2' x 4' sheets of plywood and the longest pieces (as issued) are some 5' PVC pipes.  We will call teams one or two at a time for kit distributions.  If time permits and your team is ready before the game briefing at 9, you can request to pick up your kits early.  We recommend that you perform an inventory of both kits.

Break-out sessions will be available for Notebook Training and Software Training using EasyC (tentative).  Have no more than 2 of your students plan to attend these sessions and they can share what they learned with the rest of the team.

Software License Information:
All software access instructions and license codes (where necessary) were provided in a separate email sent on 8/17 (email blast #1).  As noted above, we will (tentatively) provide some software training at Kickoff, and it would be most helpful if you show up with your software already loaded on your laptop and ready to go.

Game Rules Now Available
New this year was the universal Game Reveal held last Saturday on the BEST Robotics YouTube channel (
https://www.youtube.com/user/bestrobotics ). In addition, game rules, field drawings, kit bills of materials, Q&A, etc. were all unlocked on the BEST Robotics, Inc. national website (http://www.bestinc.org under “Participants” and then “File Manager”) .  Feel free to view the rules and Q&A and start strategizing now, but only strategizing.  Please hold any questions to our hub or the national Q&A until after the Kickoff briefing.  You are NOT authorized to start building anything until after Kickoff since you won’t have your materials until then anyhow. 

You will be given this year’s password at Kickoff (like in past years) for any parts of the national file server aren’t unlocked.  Software files will remain locked with password protection since they are reserved for BEST teams and restricted from the general public. 

Afternoon Build Session Teams (rookie teams and others by arrangement only):
For those staying for the afternoon Build Session, lunch is on your own.  There are several places to eat in the area around the school.  See attached flyer for details.  Delivery can be arranged thru the restaurant of your choice or you may leave the school for lunch and return for your turn in the shop (works better for smaller teams).  Of course, bringing a sack lunch may be your preference, and we’ll provide space for your team for that or delivered food.  We would like to have the teams plan to have lunch in 2 or more shifts so we can work through lunch and get as many teams through as many stations as quickly as possible.  Please sign up for your preferred lunch break at Kickoff Check In

Teams staying for the build session, please try to bring: closed toe shoes, earplugs, safety glasses.  We’ll have some, but would prefer you bring your own.  Also, restrain or don’t have: loose clothing, hair, or jewelry.  Due to space and demand, we will have to limit student participation to around 5 students at any one time per school for the Build Session.  We will have space available for other students to work out strategy, review rules, ask questions, etc while the other teams are working through the stations.  If you are not a rookie team this year, you may ask to stay, but depending on the demand we may have to decline your request.

We can only allow a limited number of students in the shop area at one time for safety reasons, so we will only allow students, along with their teachers, in the shop on a controlled basis.  We’ll have a staging area for students to wait their turns.  Unfortunately, large teams cannot expect to have all of their students participate.

The following teams are designated as Rookie teams and are invited to attend the afternoon session.  If you do plan to attend, please reply to confirm along with an estimated head count if different from your head count for the morning session.  If your team was left off this list and you consider yourself to be rookies, let us know that.  If your team is on this list and you do NOT plan to stay for the afternoon Build Session, please let us know so we can plan accordingly.

Frankston High School                   -confirmed     
Grapevine High School                                      
Robert Hill Middle School 
McDonald Middle School                -confirmed     
Meadowbrook Middle School
Mexia High School                           -confirmed     
LG Pinkston High School    
Scurry-Rosser High School                         -confirmed            
Winnsboro Memorial Middle School 
Young Women’s Leadership Academy      

The following teams have requested to attend the afternoon session and are approved.  If you would like your non-rookie team to also be considered for the afternoons session, please let us know ASAP.  We ask that you only request this if your team has challenges getting access to tools or you have some other extenuating circumstances we should consider.

[none at this time ]

You will find attached a couple of files with some more details of the UIL component of the BEST Robotics competition in Texas.  We were asked to get these to the teams to help clear up any confusion.

BEST of luck to you all!  See you next Saturday (9/8), and we hope you have an enjoyable Labor Day weekend holiday, right after you reply with the requested head count!  If you have any problems getting to Kickoff, call or text Jon at 469-693-9168 or Steve Bucholtz at 817-897-8833 for assistance.  Our goal is to have “Zero No-Shows” at Kickoff.

Regards,
Your Dallas BEST Robotics Core Team

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September 5, prior to Kickoff:  Optional and tentative info session for potential volunteer engineer/mentors, teacher/coaches, administrators/parents, or anyone else interested.  We typically go over the general format for the competition (not the game specifics) and give some suggestions for mentors, coaches, and teams to be successful.  Q&A with some experienced teachers and mentors is usually the BEST part of the session.  We usually present this both in person at some meeting room and also broadcast using WebEx for those that cannot attend in person.    We had to make this an “over lunch” session and virtual, but hopefully it can still work for some of you that are interested. 

 

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On-line Attendees only
Click to join:
https://ti.webex.com/ti/j.php?MTID=m96184272eac69dfdaac1a5cc57383680
Alternatively, enter meeting number 714 370 729 at:
http://ti.webex.com
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BEST Robotics volunteer lunch and learn
Date: Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Time: 11:30 am, Central Daylight Time (Chicago, GMT-05:00)
Meeting number: 714 370 729

Meeting password: (This meeting does not require a password.)
Teleconference: 972-995-7777   71886635#

CoCo BEST mentors and TIers Keith Melcher and Otis Gorley and TI retiree Joel Graber will:

·         Discuss the basics of the VEX control system used for BEST robotics and present a demo of the system

·         Show how to “cardboard” a robot, which includes methods teams can use to prototype their robot with simple cardboard patterns

·         Give an overview of what to expect as a mentor and tips and tricks on how to be effective

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Email Blast #1 sent 8/17:

Hello Teams!

This is the first of several email blasts sent to all of the Dallas BEST Robotics registered teams throughout the competition.  Thanks for competing this year and we hope to provide you with a challenging and fun contest with the theme of "Current Events". 

 

Here's the schedule of milestone events.  We highly encourage your team to attend all 3 face to face events.


Game Reveal*            Saturday, August 25, 11 AM              virtual - YouTube BEST Robotics channel: 
https://www.youtube.com/user/bestrobotics
Kickoff Day                 Saturday, September 8                      Kaufman High School, Kaufman

Demo Day                  Saturday, October 6                           Gilliam Academy, Dallas
Game Day                  Friday-Saturday, October 19-20        Newman Smith High School, Carro
llton

For teams advancing to the regional/state contest:
UIL/Texas BEST         Thu/Fri/Sat Nov 29 – Dec 1                Dr. Pepper Arena, Frisco

*What's the Game Reveal event?
 This year BEST will have one universal Game Reveal launch date for all teams across the country to see the challenge at the same time.  This will be a web based YouTube video that will go live at the designated day and time.  You’ll be able to see the challenge and begin brainstorming immediately.  See attached Word Document and PDF file for more details and social media tags.  We’ll still review the game and answer questions, along with kit distribution, as usual at Kickoff Day.

 

What's UIL Doing This Year?
 The optional Texas UIL Robotics Competition – BEST Division (3rd year), is limited to public, UIL participating, high schools only.  The only major change from last year is that this is now a regular UIL Academic competition, no longer a pilot program.  You should have indicated during your team registration if you want to participate in the optional UIL component, and you should understand that your team must participate in the BEST Award with all of the additional requirements.  You will receive the invoice from Best of Texas Robotics sometime after Kickoff Day for the UIL fee that all UIL teams will have to pay to cover the added cost at the state contest, whether you advance to the UIL state contest or not.  Eligible schools may change their status using the EventBrite registration page, but the invoice has to be paid by the deadline that they'll provide, otherwise the UIL component will be automatically dropped for your team.  The UIL activity will not affect our local Dallas BEST hub contest from your point of view other than at the end of the competition we'll have a 3rd list of team rankings of the top UIL competing teams in addition to the usual top BEST Award teams and top Game teams.  More details available at:  "BEST of Texas Robotics":  
http://www.bestoftexasrobotics.org/ 


What's next?

Late August or early September, prior to Kickoff, -TBD-:  Optional and tentative info session for potential volunteer engineer/mentors, teacher/coaches, or anyone else interested.  We typically go over the general format for the competition (not the game specifics) and give some suggestions for mentors, coaches, and teams to be successful.  It’s also a good overview for any administrators or sponsors that want to learn more.  Q&A with some experienced teachers is usually the BEST part of the session.  We usually present this both in person at some meeting room and also broadcast using WebEx for those that cannot attend in person.    We don’t have a firm date/time/location for this, but if you are interested, let us know. 

 

September 8, morning:  Kickoff Day on Saturday, September 8, at Kaufman High School, 3205 S. Houston St., Kaufman, TX  75142.  Doors open at 8:00 AM for team check in and early material distribution, along with a light breakfast.  Game briefing starts at 9:00 AM.  We usually finish between 11:00 and noon.  

September 8, afternoon:  All rookie teams are invited and strongly encouraged to attend the optional afternoon Build Session that day, where we'll bring in some shop tools in addition to Kaufman High School opening its shop to a limited number of team members to allows them to begin supervised, hands-on work for several common, basic robot components.  This is "on the job training" at its finest!  If you are a rookie team, we do need to know which ones are planning to stay for this and how many students and coaches will participate from each team, so please reply with that information.  We cannot have all students from the larger teams work through all of the stations, but those that do the tasks can certainly take the knowledge and skills back to share with the rest of the team.  We might be able to accommodate a few of the returning teams depending on rookie teams participation, so if your returning team is interested, let us know (if you haven’t already) and "we'll talk about it".  No promises, at least not right now!  Lunch is on your own.

Software Access:  Below you will find some information on obtaining the relevant software tools that our sponsors have provided.  All of the software programs are available now using those instructions.  One change from past years is that we no longer will need to provide unique, individual team license codes for the new version of EasyC since it is now a shared or pooled license.  You do not have to do any programming to compete at BEST, but it’s very useful to be able to do some simple coding changes to the default software.  Software training is planned as part of Kickoff Day.  Details to come.

What do we need from you right now?
1. A reply email so we know we’re getting through and that you still plan to compete.  Since most of our communications will be by email, please make sure we have the correct and working address. 
2. Having a 2nd email address or even 3rd person on our email list will help ensure your team won't miss any important information.  A well-organized team might have a student in charge of hub communications.  Send us your additional contact's info if it wasn’t on your EventBrite registration.
3. When you do reply at any time, please Reply to Sender (only), and also include both your name and your school so we don't have to look it up!  36 teams is a lot to keep up with.  Same request goes for new email inquiries.
4. If your situation has changed and your team will not be able to compete at the Dallas hub this year, please let us know ASAP so we can open up your team slot to a team on our wait list.  We are at full capacity with 36 registered teams and are turning away schools that want to compete.
5. For UIL eligible schools, if you want to change your UIL registration status (either direction), please do so immediately using the EventBrite registration page.  If you are competing as a UIL school, please arrange to have the fee paid by the deadline using the instruction included in the BEST of Texas invoice.
6. If you have an interest or know of someone that could benefit from the information session described above, please include that interest in your reply.
7. If you are having any difficulties with the BEST contest now or anytime in the future, let us know right away.  We're here to help!  The last thing we want to see is a team dropping out because they got stuck and couldn't get any help.

Regards,
Your Dallas BEST Robotics Core Team
http://www.dallas-best.org/
http://bestinc.org/

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Registration opened 5/7/2018 on EventBrite.  Contact hub for URL and access code.