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Mars Rover-Landing Challenge
Lab 2 - Clear the Landing Area

Teacher Portal


Launch the Engage Section

ACTS is what the teacher will do and ASKS is how the teacher will facilitate.

  1. Have students share their ideas, and guide them to the Code Base needing to repeat the project.
  2. Let students share their ideas about possible coding additions, like adding more blocks to the project, etc.
  3. Help students to picture the landing site using either the demonstration setup, or a drawing on the board. Trace the paths of the Code Base with your finger or a dry erase marker, to help students visualize the idea of repeating the project.
  4. Draw or write two blocks on the board, then draw an arrow starting beneath the blocks, and looping around to the top, to give students a visual introduction to how a loop functions.
  5. Have students get ready to join their groups.
  1. In Lab 1, our Code Base robots detected an obstacle to make it safe for the Mars rover to land. What if there was more than one obstacle in the way? What would our Code Base need to do?
  2. How do you think we would code our Code Base to do that?
  3. What if we didn’t know where the obstacles were going to be? What is a way that we could make the Code Base keep looking for obstacles all over the landing site?
  4. There is a special kind of block that will let us repeat our project over and over again. It’s called a "loop," and it can go around our project. How do you think a loop works?
  5. Let’s find out how we can use loops in our projects to help us detect multiple obstacles on the landing site.

Getting the Students Ready to Build

First, we need to get our Code Base robots and VEXcode GO ready. (If students do not have a pre-built Code Base - Eye Forward from the previous Lab, allow 10 - 15 minutes for students to build it prior to the Lab activities.)

Facilitate the Build

  1. InstructInstruct students that they are going to prepare to clear the landing site, by turning on the Brain on their Code Base robots, connecting and configuring them in VEXcode GO, and getting their projects ready.
  2. DistributeDistribute a Code Base - Eye Forward and a computer or tablet to access VEXcode GO to each group. Groups can share access to the Field for testing their projects. It can be set up with a starting location marked, and obstacles in place, as pictured below, to be ready for the Play activity.

    GO Field setup
    GO Field setup

  3. FacilitateFacilitate student groups to get their Code Base and VEXcode GO ready.
  4. OfferOffer positive reinforcement for students turn taking and following directions in their groups.
A VEX GO character

Teacher Troubleshooting

Facilitation Strategies

  • Think about how your students will access VEXcode GO. Ensure that the computers or tablets that students will use have access to VEXcode GO. For more information about setting up VEXcode GO, see this Knowledge Base article.
  • Gather the materials each group needs before class. For this Lab, each group will need a GO Kit, Build Instructions, a computer or tablet to access VEXcode GO, and balled up pieces of white or light-colored scrap paper to act as obstacles on the landing area. Students will also need access to a Field for testing.
  • The Eye Sensor uses infrared light to detect objects. Light-colored objects reflect infrared light and are detected more easily by the Eye Sensor. Dark-colored objects absorb infrared light and the Eye Sensor does not detect them as well. During the Unit, use white or light-colored paper for the obstacles to ensure that the Eye Sensor will be able to detect these objects.
  • Set up your Fields ahead of time, as shown in the image below, to serve as a testing area for the Code Base. Have these spread out around the classroom to allow students ample space to test their projects. The balled-up paper is the obstacle to be detected, and the 'X' is the starting point for the Code Base in the Lab activities.
    GO Field Setup
    Field Setup


  • Prepare for the Open-Ended Challenge — Clear the Landing Area is designed to be an open-ended exploration that will ask your students to persevere to solve a challenge. Students will be asked to use loops in their projects, and it may take several iterations before they have success. Use suggestions outlined in the "Preparing for Open-Ended Challenges in this Unit" section in the Background to guide students through the trial and error process, and to help them troubleshoot their projects to achieve the goal of the challenge. The Facilitation section in Play Part 1 and 2 contain additional instructional supports for guiding students through the Lab 2 challenge.
  • Use the Get Ready...Get VEX...GO! PDF Book and Teacher’s Guide - If students are new to VEX GO, read the PDF book and use the prompts in the Teacher’s Guide to facilitate an introduction to building and using VEX GO before beginning the Lab activities. Students can join their groups and gather their VEX GO Kits, and follow along with the building activity within the book as you read.