What type of scheduling?

Debates and discussions on the various race scheduling methods that can be used and their fairness and accuracy in determining the winners.
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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by *5 J's* » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:07 pm

A lot actually depends on the enthusiasm of the MC. Get someone up there with a monotone voice, can barely be heard or just doesn't show much enthusiasm, and the crowd doesn't get into it as much. I bet you can say the same thing about an elimination style race.
Agreed - I'll see how the district race goes this year. Last year the MC just called the cars up - that's about the extent of it. That just led to scouts getting their cars - running them - and then wandering around until their number was called again. Nobody knew how they were doing or really what was going on. Just that every 20-30 minutes they would be called to run a race. BORING FOR ALL IN ATTENDANCE. But you are correct - a good MC should be able to improve this.
Again, that is quite subjective.
Agreed, but I still think it is the most important aspect to evaluate a scheduling method.
Personally, I do not recommend it, as I'm in the camp that feels that racers that see themselves out of the running for a trophy are more likely to lose interest in the race than to keep it.
As you state - a good MC should keep their interest. Actually, we use this as an opportunity to talk teach good sportsmanship. You may be out of the "running" but cheer on your Den mates. And, that is what happened at our Pack race this year. It was great seeing the scouts that were out cheering for their Den mates that were still in the race.
Last edited by *5 J's* on Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:09 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by *5 J's* » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:12 pm

My impression is that, after doing some homework, you've concluded that your existing track and scheduling configuration works well given your priorities, and there is no incentive to change what you already do. Correct? If so - that's great! :thumbup:
Nope - but this is a healthy discussion to evaluate other methods. I would really like to hear more about level of enthusiasm from the participants for each method.
*5 J's* wrote:
the first thing for me to evaluate is - will the kids have fun. This goes to the top of my list for importance. I believe producing a high number of winners and utilizing a method that keeps the scouts in tune with who is doing well is key to the scouts having fun. This is not necessarily of the highest importance of every event coordinator or every parent - but it is most important to me.
Certainly a high win rate seems to be a primary consideration (top two?), if not the most primary.
Read carefully "I believe .. (that) is the key to the scouts having fun". Others may convince me otherwise, but at this point that is what I think keeps their interest.



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by doct1010 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:38 pm

5J's,

After my recent experience with a cumulative timed event I can, with certainty, suggest what you should avoid.

I am in complete agreement regarding maximizing racing for the cubs. I was the derby chair in our pack for four years, the only issue I could not be persuaded to change was number of races per kid. We had a very vocal minority that tried every year to shorten event. I compromised on other issues, but would not yield on this one. Certainly maximizing wins is a nice option as well.



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by *5 J's* » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:08 am

thanks for sharing your observation Doc. I read that thread and would agree with your conclusion.



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by Darin McGrew » Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:35 am

IME, switching to a PPN-like system increased participants' enthusiasm, but we were switching from a lane rotation system to our PPN-like system.

With our lane rotation system, everyone raced four times in a row, and then they were done. Also, they raced mostly the same cars each time, so there wasn't much suspense about who would win each race. With our PPN-like system, everyone races 8 times, distributed over 40-50 minutes of racing, so they're racing every 5-7 minutes. Also, they race against different opponents each time, as much as possible.

But the biggest factor affecting the participants' enthusiasm is the energy and preparation of the MC. If the MC sounds like the monotone teacher portrayed by Ben Stein in The Wonder Years, then you're doomed. If the MC is energetic and having fun and is encouraging the kids to have fun, then you'll have a great event.

Here are a few other related thoughts:

The MC needs to have material to fill the inevitable breaks in the action. If you've got announcements about upcoming events, then you can throw those in at some point, but most of the material should be fun: jokes (kids love bad jokes), riddles, trivia, impromptu interviews with kids who built interesting cars, whatever. Our MC has a grab bag of prizes, and kids who answer riddles or trivia correctly can pick a prize from the bag.

Announce the cars in each race, and the kids who built them. We have the kids who built the cars that are currently racing sit in chairs at the finish line, so they're ready to return their cars to the pit after the race. Announce the results and congratulate the winner. And if you notice an interesting match, play it up (e.g., "Hey kids, which do you think is going to win? The carrot car or the ice cream car?!").

We get the kids involved in starting each race. We used to have the MC get each kid to say "Ready, set, go!" into the microphone, but some kids got shy and stalled and that could slow down the derby. The last couple years, we've videotaped every kid saying "Ready, set, go!" at some point during our workshops. We edit out the shyness and stalling, so we get a concise clip of the kid saying "Ready, set, go!" The kids love seeing themselves up on the big display screen.

When we display the cars that are in the current race, we display a photo of each car, in addition to the car number and the name of the builder of the car. This also makes it easier to verify correct lane assignments.



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by *5 J's* » Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:42 pm

Darin,

MC's TAKE NOTE - Excellent info for all that MC a Derby. Our Cub Master did an excellent job MC'ing the Pack event this year. We'll see how the District goes. If it goes like last year I'm going to have to figure out a way to get somebody from the district onto this site. What great info, suggestions, insight, perspective, challenges, etc., on this forum.

Thanks also for sharing your perspective of the Scouts enthusiasm with a derby utilizing Lane Rotation scheduling - sounds like this didn't work well for your group.



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by *5 J's* » Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:22 pm

When I started this post I had just assisted in running my first Pinewood Derby. Now I am the Pinewood Derby Chair for our Pack and am looking at making baby steps to improving our Pinewood Derby Program. We are running a Pinewood Derby fundraiser to raise funds to buy a new four-lane track, but in the meantime I must get by with our two lane track. So my first step is to identify an improved scheduling method that supports our current two lane track and will support the four lane track once purchased. My preference is to use a method from within GPRM to simplify the entire process.

I have been following this post as theDoc's needs seem to be similar to our packs. However, after getting to a point that seemed like resolution Stan ran the simulators and noted that "Both of these methods require more heats than you may have time for." So now I am seeking suggestions for our Pack.

My parameters are - two lane track, have a timer interfaced with GPRM, each car races in each lane at least once, would like each car to race at least 4 to 6 times. I anticipate approximately 40 participants. I would run as one group with a possibility at setting up subgroups for each Den. (I need to send the top four from the Pack to District, and will award them trophies, but I am contemplating awarding each Den a 1st, 2nd, 3rd place ribbon). I do not necessarily need a Trophy round, though I am not adverse to one. Time is somewhat of a constraint. I'm not sure the Pack will want to change the scheduling method if I suggest it will take longer than four hours.

The recommendation seems to be PPN. I believe a schedule that satisfies Perfect-N or CPN (or Double Round Robin as this is a two lane track) would take too long to run. Phased-Shifted Lane Rotation also sounds like it would satisfy our needs. Dynamic Scheduling seems to have some good pluses, but it seems most are not fans of this method.

So does a PPN, 3 round chart sound like the best fit for our Pack? Or a Phase Shifted Lane Rotation? What are the differences, pro's, con's. Any other suggestions?

It's kinda odd - PN and CPN sound great - but are really not practical for more than 8 participants.



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by Rukkian » Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:47 pm

While I am not an expert, and I admit I did not read this entire thread, I will throw out an option.

While I prefer not to use timed racing, at least in smaller groups, with your 2 lanes, I could see going by times might meet your requirements if you have a good start gate interface.

You could still have each car run multiple times in each lane next 2 many different opponents, and spread them all out.

The other option would be to break into much smaller groups, which may allow you get through double round robins to get down to a finals round.



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:59 pm

If you are racing the clock, then any scheme that gives lane equity will work if every thing works as planned. PPN assures diversity of opponents, so rank by points should correlated closely with rank by times. You can use lack of correlation to point to specific records to inspect in detail for equipment problems.

As I understand, "Phase shift" is equivalent to the underlying heat generation process of PPN. The difference is that the racer number delta between lanes starts out larger than the current PPN deltas. If you use "phase shift", you may unintentionally produce greater variance in opponent equity and, as a result, loose the points ranking - times ranking correlation.

Even without exercising the statistics, good balance in opponents helps the times make sense. Folks watching will expect that cars with the best winning records will be among the top rank by time. If the time ranking varies from that expectation, then there will likely be more questions about the timing integrity. Success of a timing process depends in part on the racers' (and their parents') belief in the integrity of the process, of the equipment and of the personnel.

For theDoc's situation, the cheapest path would be to borrow a 3 or 4 lane track for the pack races! Next would be to add a timer to the 2-lane system and run by times. Finally, replace the relic with a 3 or 4 lane track. :)


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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by *5 J's* » Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:08 pm

There seems to be a crossing point between using PN or CPN charts with point and single run with time.

At one end you have a very quick race using a timer - where each car runs once and you award the cars with the fastest time. Any slight error in timing be it from the electronics or start gate operation or something else can foul your results.

At the other end you have a very long race - that runs all combinations of lanes and competitors and just counts wins with points. Produces very accurate results - but at the expense of time.

So you need to find the right balance of sacrifice. To me with our restriction to a two lane track - and running the Pack as one group (~40 participants) I MUST use elapsed time in order to complete the FAIREST race in an acceptable amount of time. But I am open to reccomendations if somebody sees otherwise.

From Stan's comment regarding "Phase shift" it sounds like we would be best suited to PPN, and I hoping that I would have time to run three heats as these SEEMS to me to be the minimum numbers of races to make it fun for the scouts and to obtain fairly accurate results - or the best "compromise".

Please understand that I am a bit uneasy about leaping out and suggesting a change to a system that I have no experience with. That is why I am trying to make sure I pick the best method to suggest - such that I am putting my best foot forward. I have had no complaints with our present method - but I understand the reasons why it is not the best - so I'm willing to try a change.



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:09 pm

*5 J's* wrote:From Stan's comment regarding "Phase shift" it sounds like we would be best suited to PPN, and I hoping that I would have time to run three heats as these SEEMS to me to be the minimum numbers of races to make it fun for the scouts and to obtain fairly accurate results - or the best "compromise".
The number of heats should be a multiple of the number of lanes used for the race. This is automatic with PPN and (I think) with "phase shift". So with 2 lane track you would run 2, 4, 6, ... heats per car. With 40 Cubs to race, this would be 40, 80, 120, ... heats (in 40 heats each Cub races twice). My preference would be 6 heats per racer (120 heats total) which would take 2 hours + or - depending on how fast you can run the heats accurately. Even though the schedule is not PN, there will be a strong correlation between finish place by times and ranking by points. If not, recheck the times for the high finishers, looking for obvious anomolies such as 2nd or 3rd place in heat with faster time than 1st in heat and heat times faster than physically possible on the track. (Your software supplier may have other checks to suggest ... check with the documentation.)

Some chairmen like to exclude the slowest time for each racer. I am okay with this if you also exclude the fastest time for each. This means that each racer's average time is closer to his theoretical average time AND it removes most occurrences of common timing errors: premature clock stop or delayed clock start with correspondingly fast times and delayed car release with correspondingly slow times.


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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by pwrd by tungsten » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:56 pm

Say you had 500 racers and unlimited tracks.

Would it make sense to run each car twice down a one lane track for prelims?

Then provide multiple full tracks so that everyone could have a full day of racing. Sorted by speed...

I always wonder how to throw a race for 500 cubs :-)


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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:24 pm

pwrd by tungsten wrote:Say you had 500 racers and unlimited tracks.

Would it make sense to run each car twice down a one lane track for prelims?

Then provide multiple full tracks so that everyone could have a full day of racing. Sorted by speed...

I always wonder how to throw a race for 500 cubs :-)
We don't quite have 500 Cubs ... usually about 300. We divide 'em by Cub Scout Year (Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos I, Webelos II-including just graduated Boy Scouts if they qualified with their pack). Each Cub Scout Year has its Champion and runners-up trophies through 5th place. For those who haven't had enough at the end of a long day, we run the Year Champs against each other, and then the adults race with what they brought.

Racing each age group Quintuple Elimination on one of two 3-lane tracks available. For the 300 boys, we have about 26 track hours spread over 4 tracks ... 2 age groups running at one time. Minimum contested heats per scout: 5; average runs per scout: 7+. Total heats: About 2250.

If we tried to do this with 500 Scouts, we would need about 3800 total heats and would assign two more tracks per age group, using about 50 track hours.

To get 500 Scouts, we would have to add packs to our district like crazy (that would make the DE's year!) Each pack qualifies up to 4 racers per age group, a rate that just about peaks the participation. 5 per age group would not increase participation ... probably would cut participation! And if we opened it up to anybody who wanted to race, the participation would probably be about 150.


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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by pwrd by tungsten » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:03 am

Age Groups. Thar makes a lot of sense...



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Re: What type of scheduling?

Post by *5 J's* » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:11 am

pwrd by tungsten wrote:Age Groups. Thar makes a lot of sense...
We only have 50 cubs in our pack, with 80% participation, I anticipate 40 entrants. I may run subgroups to award 1-3 ribbons to each age group, but I want all to run against each other for the top four positions as we need to send the top four to district competition.



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