Chicago South Nicholson STEM Tournament



Date  Saturday, December 17, 2016
Nicholson STEM Academy
6006 South Peoria Street
Chicago, IL 60621


8:15 AM – 9:00 AM
 Opening Ceremony  9:00 AM
 Closing Ceremony  3:30 PM UNTIL END (APPROX. 4:00 PM)

 Food availability

 Food availble for purchase
 Parking instructions & Building entrance TBD.
Tournament Coordinator Contact Name

 Cindy Cunningham

Alexis Brown

Tara Lockhart

Troy Patterson

 Tournament Coordinator email and telephone



Event Overview

This event has been put together with the kids in mind. They will be occupied by something nearly every minute of the day. The judges will engage the kids with questions and will strive to make this a positive experience for all. Some teams will move on to the State event, some teams will get awards, some teams may see their robot crash and burn, but all will be treated like winners.

Most of the event will take place in the gym, cafeteria and classrooms. Team robotic performance matches will be in the gym, with seating for spectators, though most everyone crowds around the tables for a closer view. One pair of tables will be used for tournament play. Each team will have the opportunity to play a total of four rounds (two at each table). Practice tables and pit areas will be in the school cafeteria.

Robot Design, Research Presentation and Core Values judging will run concurrently during the Performance rounds. All judging will be held in classrooms away from all the noise and excitement going on in the gym. Please keep track of when and where you are supposed to be. We would like you to be waiting outside of the room for your presentation at least 5 minutes prior to your start time. Please be quiet while waiting because another team may be presenting. Rooms will be clearly marked with signs, and you will receive a schedule when you register upon arriving. There will be queuing managers to help teams keep track of where they’re supposed to be, but ultimately it is the team’s responsibility to be on time.

There will be a short break at the end of the tournament while the refs and judges deliberate on final scores and judging sheets. Gather your team and find seats for the closing ceremony in the gym.

Most importantly, bring a good sense of humor. This tournament is put on entirely by volunteers. Show them your support and appreciation for what they have put together for you. Check your worries and egos at the door. Have fun! 



What to do when your team arrives

You may pull up in front of the building to unload your stuff, but do not leave your vehicle there. We suggest unloading to the sidewalk (or right inside the building in inclement weather) and then moving your vehicle so that other teams may pull up to unload.  Remember to carry your robot in a safe container!  You may park in the school parking lot located on north side of the building.  However, there is ample free street parking on the east side of Paulina in front of the school.  (The west side of Paulina directly in front of the school is a fire zone, and no parking is allowed there.)  Free street parking is also available on Hermitage, one block west, behind the school.


All teams will have pre-assigned tables in the cafeteria. Due to the number of teams in the tournaments, each team will share half of a long table with another team.  This will provide seating for ten children per team (and provide opportunities for teams to interact and practice gracious professionalism).  Please do not re-arrange the tables as we have made these assignments to help judges and runners find your team and help move the tournament along. Be sure your kids know where their table is before they start unloading.

Once you have unloaded and parked your vehicle, coaches should head for the check-in table. There you will receive a packet containing the day’s schedule, volunteer instructions and any last minute instructions.

After check-in, you and your team can setup at your table and get settled. Please place your team number in a visible location. Do not remove or cover it up.


Consent Release Forms

Each team needs to bring Consent Release forms, signed, for each student, coach and volunteer attending (NO EXCEPTIONS – Participation is contingent on filled out and signed forms before the opening ceremonies). These will be collected at check in BEFORE you receive your packet.

Team Information Sheet

The Judges see so many kids/teams during the course of the day. The Team Information Sheet was designed to help them identify and remember everyone.  A template of the sheet will be emailed to coaches after tournament assignments have been set.  Please complete the sheet and print out 4 color copies to bring to the tournament.  The copies will be collected when you check in on the day of the tournament.

Schedule of the Day

This schedule is subject to change, but should give you an approximate idea of how the day will progress.


8:15 AM - 9:00 AM

Check In

9:00 AM - 9:20 AM

Opening Ceremonies

9:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Matches / Research & Technical Presentations, Teamwork Judging

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Clean pit area, Score Tallying

3:30 PM - end

Awards & Closing Ceremonies


* Coffee and donuts will be sold during registration.

 ** Food, drinks and snacks will be sold until approximately 2:30 PM.


During the tournament, food and drinks will be available for purchase, including donuts in the morning and hot dogs and pizza slices around lunch time.  All food and drinks must be consumed in the cafeteria. Food is not allowed anywhere else in the building including hallways, classrooms, or the gym.  You may bring in food, but it also must be eaten in the cafeteria.


* Note that peanut products will be present in the cafeteria and during food preparation.

 Tournament T-Shirt

We will no longer have a supply of t-shirts available for sale at the qualifiers.

We have created a t-shirt that is now being offered for sale for $19.99 at Merch by Amazon at this link: The shirts will be delivered directly to you from Amazon.

We are excited to offer teams a choice of 5 shirt colors and a full range of sizes. We hope you will find the new process easy to use and enjoy the flexibility of this new process. FIRST Illinois Robotics, the non-profit organization that delivers the FLL program in Illinois, will receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of every t-shirt. 

Please pass this link along to team members and families who may be interested in having a shirt to show their enthusiasm at our events.

Lightweight, Classic fit, TearAway label, Double-needle sleeve and bottom hem

  • 4.5 oz 100% Combed Ringspun Cotton, machine wash cold with like colors, dry low heat

 Oranaments will be for sale for $7 each at the qualifying tournament.  Ornaments make a great coaches gift with signatures from team members!  See below for the image.

 2015 Trash Trek t-shirt

Tournament Ornament:


2015 Trash Trek Ornament

Site Rules for the Day

Please observe the following rules:

  • Please clean up your pit area after the tournament.
  • DO NOT wander the building! Everyone must stay within the competition area (limited to the competition rooms, pits, presentation rooms, and the hallway connecting those).

Transporting your robot during the event

It will happen… someone will drop their robot and watch the parts explode in a million directions. It’s not pretty. You might consider a plastic container for carrying your robot during the event. If it drops you have a better chance of collecting all of the parts and re-assembling it.

Pit Area and Practice Table Information

The pit is the area where teams can come between performance rounds, judging, etc. Like an auto race, the teams come here to tune up their robots, exchange parts, etc.  Each team will have a table and some space. Limited power outlets will be available near the pit areas.  We will need to share outlets. You can bring your computer, robot, kit, and other assorted goodies. There may not be a lot of room to “hang out” in the pit area, but there will be plenty of seating in the main competition to come and watch other teams compete. 

Practice tables are for testing your robots and making last minute changes. Teams need to limit their time to 5 minutes and then let another team use the table.

The practice tables should run similar to that of the performance rounds. No more than two students should be allowed up at the practice table. All other team members should stand back. This helps us keep track of valuable pieces.

Practice tables, as well as the competition tables make use of challenge kits that are generously donated for the day.  Please respect the property and take care of the challenge pieces as if they were your own.


Rules for Competition Area

Official FLL rules for tournament play along with commonly asked questions and answers are located at:    

Team members at the table will have a brief time to inspect the playing surface and prepare your robot for tournament play. Coaches and Students should not touch any table elements. If you think something is improperly setup on the table, the student should notify the referee immediately so that it may be corrected.

Team members must not touch the competition table during performance runs.

The score is determined at the END of the match, based on the condition of the field at that time only. This means that points won’t be awarded for successful missions that the robot accidentally trashes before the match ends.


FLL Illinois Judging Requirements

1. The Robot Design Executive Summary (RDES) will be required in Illinois. Teams are required to present a Robot Design Executive Summary (RDES) to their judges at the technical judging session at the qualifiers and championship tournaments. The RDES is described on the FLL Illinois website at this link: RDES


2. A Core Values Poster will not be required in Illinois. Judges will not review the Core Values poster in the judging sessions. Teams who wish to prepare a Core Values Poster to display in their pit area at the qualifier and championship tournaments may do so.


Scoring Overview

The top few teams will advance to the State Tournament based of an equal weighting of the following categories, plus finish in the top 50% of the Robot Performance Scoring.

  • Technical Judging
  • Research Presentation Judging
  • Core Values Judging

About 25% of the teams will advance from each of the Qualifier Tournaments to the Northern Illinois Championship Tournament in February 2014. 






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