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  • 8 -15 years old
  • 45 minutes - 2 hours, 25 minutes
  • Beginner
Preview image


The M.A.D. Box is a Mechanical Advantage Device designed with different gear ratios to create mechanical advantages. Students explore how the mechanical advantages of torque and speed are related to gear ratios, where gear ratios can be found in daily life, and how they can be applied to their builds. There is a full investigation of calculating different gear ratios.

Key Concepts

  • Gear Ratios

  • Mechanical Advantage

  • Torque

  • Speed


  • Create torque and/or speed advantages in designs

  • Calculate gear ratios yielding torque or speed advantages

  • Analyze situations to know which advantage (torque or speed) is needed in a design

  • Apply concepts of torque and speed advantages to understand new devices

  • Understand how to design and create devices with mechanical advantages from VEX IQ parts

Materials needed

  • VEX IQ Super Kit

  • Engineering notebook

Facilitation Notes

  • Ensure all required parts for the build are available prior to starting this STEM Lab.

  • Building with some of this build's parts can be challenging. See the Appendix for tips as needed.

  • If mechanical advantage is a new concept, the Appendix includes a page describing the concept.

  • Students will need to reduce and multiply fractions when calculating gear ratios.

  • An engineering notebook can be as simple as lined paper within a folder or binder. The notebook shown is a more sophisticated example that is available through VEX Robotics.

  • The approximate pacing of each section of the STEM Lab is as follows: Seek - 40 minutes, Play - 45 minutes, Apply - 15 minutes, Rethink - 40 minutes, and Know - 5 minutes.

Educational Standards

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)