Why having your team attend a scrimmage makes sense
Team BEBO explains their robot to team Intellibots at the Weimar Scrimmage.

By- Heidi Buck
The best advice I’ve ever read about the value of a scrimmage was written by Jill Wilker of Playing at Learning: PARTICIPATE IN A SCRIMMAGE!  It is invaluable to the team, honestly!  Even if their robot doesn’t do anything – they will learn so much from the experience!

Last Sunday, I attended a FLL scrimmage run by the coach of a local team (Dave Parker of BEBO). I asked the team members of one of the participating teams (Intellibots) what their thoughts were about the value of attending a scrimmage.

“It gives us the opportunity to interact with other teams and make new friends, which can be difficult during the actual competition” – Vivian (Intellibots)

Dave Parker (coach- BEBO) kicks of the Weimar Scrimmage

“A scrimmage is like an experiment- no matter what the results, you get information which is important in working towards a successful solution.” – Shilpa (Intellibots)

“They provide an opportunity to run your robot under different conditions. We learned that our robot performed very differently on a new mat!” – Rohit (Intellibots)

“A scrimmage helps you to gauge how your preparation is compared to other teams”. – Monish (Intellibots)

One of the Intellibot’s team members gave me several reasons as to why scrimmages are of value. Vineeth wrote
1. A scrimmage is like a warm up. You get back to or used to the tournament environment and friendly competition. You get to directly experience something close to an actual competition before the real competition, so you will be prepared and aware of what is coming up.

2. You learn from your mistakes and accomplishments. You learn where your team is very strong and where your team will do well. You also learn where you need to work on and improve. This gives you a chance to become a much better team before the actual competition.

3. Finally, scrimmages are tons of fun! You meet other teams and other FLL members that you haven’t seen in about 6 months and you get to spend some fun time with them.

So in final analysis, scrimmages give you an opportunity to meet your old/new FLL buddies, experience the FLL competition atmosphere, and learn about your strengths and weaknesses. The best aspect about all this is the fact that you get to do all this before the actual competition!” – Vineeth (Intellibots)

Gail Owens (Head Referee- NorCal Capital Region - goes over the rules with son Gavin Owens (Assistant Referee) - at the Weimar Scrimmage.

And it isn’t just team members who feel scrimmages are of value. Official FIRST referees also recognize their importance. Attending referee Gail Owens (Head Referee for the NorCal Capital Region) writes:

It’s been my experience that an FLL scrimmage is the spark that really ignites the kids’ fire.  It is a valuable forum for students to completely embrace what they are doing. They definitely step up to challenge themselves — honing solutions to missions, becoming more curious about other possibilities, fine-tuning table strategies, and so on. Scrimmages are especially beneficial to rookie teams. It’s great to watch newbies wrap their heads around what is going on and what it takes to compete in an actual tournament.  Invaluable information is mined by students through experience (rather than coaches/mentor telling them what to do); and scrimmages are a veritable playground for engineering and team-building experiences.  In my view, they are an essential part of the learning process.  Scrimmages are a relaxed and productive start to an incredible learning journey.

If your team has the chance to go to a scrimmage – go! If your team is interested in putting on a scrimmage – it’s easy (check out Playing At Learning’s site here for information on how to run your own scrimmage.)

Team BEBO presents their project at the Weimar scrimmage - an added bonus for the attending rookie teams.

Scrimmage that – it’s a good idea!