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A Look at the 2007 Challenges

The new challenges for the FLL Power Puzzle season are pretty interesting, and include some new twists to the competition. They also seem to make it somewhat harder to get a perfect score. For example, while the Nanoquest theme had only 9 challenges, this season has a whopping 15! Here are some comments on a few of the complicated challenges:

Hydro-Dam: This challenge model is a deliverable, meaning it's in base (or the parking lot) until the robot moves it. The "water" part of the dam is not used until the end of the round, when it's used for scoring. For the challenge, the robot has to move the dam so that it touches both banks of one of the two rivers on the east (right) side of base. There is another factor, though. In a later challenge, the Power Lines have to be moved so that they connect the Power Plant property to surrounding communities. If the hydro dam is touching a community which is touching the Power Lines, you get an extra 5 points.

Wind Turbines: These two deliverables have to be moved to a white area "not directly outside Base". The term, "directly", is an interesting one, because it's not exactly clear how far away that is. It will probably be clarified on in a Q&A, though. These models also have the same factor as the dam, in that you get an extra 5 points for each Turbine that touches a community connected by the Power Lines.

Wave Turbine: This is the first time I've seen a challenge like this. Each team has to build and bring their own wave turbine model and bring it to the competition. During the round, their robot has to move the model from base to the ocean directly west of the sandy base (in the top left corner). The turbine model has to have at least two pieces that move independently from each other (for example, two beams connected by a pin). The mission description says it's worth your while to make the model meaningful, but you don't get any points for it, so... :-)

Oil Barrels: Part of this mission is a little confusing. It says if you can put the barrels either in the Base or the parking lot (by hand) for 10 points each. Then it says if you rescue the robot when there are barrels in Base, you'll get one taken away, but if you rescue the robot when no barrels are in Base, none will be taken away. This begs the question... can you just put the barrels in the parking lot instead of the base and rescue your robot without penalty? I don't think this will be allowed, for two reasons. First, it wouldn't make much sense for you to get penalized if you decided to keep the barrels in the Base instead of the parking lot, when you can put them in either by yourself (not with the robot). Second, the video tutorial for this mission shows both the Base AND the Parking Lot without barrels intentionally.

Fairness Bonus: This year, the fairness bonus gives a bigger advantage to RIS users. If a team gets 100 points or less, every five points they got gets 3 more points. So if an RIS team got 100 points, they'd get a Fairness Bonus of 60 points. RIS teams that achieve 105 - 325 points gain a Fairness Bonus of 60 points as well. Finally, RIS teams that score 330 - 395 points have their points replaced by a corresponding number of points from 386 - 399. So basically, the Fairness Bonus won't help RIS teams get perfect scores, but it will help them if they get a non-perfect score.


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