Some final thoughts about preparing for your competition:
Here in Minnesota, our competitions go for the better part of the day. We are expected to be there from 8am to 5pm. It ends up being a long, exhausting day, but very fun for the kids, and hopefully for you, too.
Our competitions are divided into two parts. From 8am to about 1pm are the judging sessions and performance (robot) runs. From 1pm to 4pm, we have a head-to-head bracketed tournament. And at 4pm is the award ceremony.
Make sure you have things for the kids to do during down times. There can be an hour between each judging session or performance run at times and you don’t want them running around. Bring cards, Nintendo DS games, Ad libs, or other activities. You don’t have to keep the team together all the time, but be sure to keep track of them so they are on time to your sessions. We have roaming “hidden” judges in plain street clothes that evaluate teams throughout the day. So if the team is together, your team will be better off.
Make hard copies of your programs. You should be bringing a laptop when you go to technical judging, but as with all technology, things go wrong. Maybe the battery dies, or the Mindstorms application won’t start up. If you have printouts, at least you’ll have something to show.
Copy programs to a USB memory stick or burn them to a CD. Again, with technology, you never know what could go wrong. Backup your programs so your team doesn’t have to try to recreate them from scratch.
Consider an inspirational speech for your team. When everyone gets there, the team will be excited and nervous. I try to calm them down a bit by telling them they have done everything they can up to this point and no matter how well they do, the point is to have fun.
Good luck at your regional/qualifier tournaments. I’ll be back next week with more tips for your robot.