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Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - The Purpose of this Section

This Apply section will help students understand how robots are used in the real world to accomplish tasks that are too dangerous for humans and to keep them safe. It will also introduce students to one of the wonderful aspects of participating in a VEX competition; the opportunity to be part of a team and meet new people. To see what VEX competitions have to offer, please visit

These Apply pages can be worked through as a class.

  • Together, read the Apply page “Robots are Amazing”.

  • Facilitate a class discussion on the topic.

  • Together, read the page “Let’s Start a Team.”

  • Facilitate a class discussion on the topic.

If you have time available in class or as homework, Extend Your Learning sections provide other options to get students thinking about how robotics is used throughout their lives.

Robots are A-mazing!

                                        An urban search and rescue robot moves across a rubble pile.
                                                  Photo: NIST [Public domain in the United States]

Many of today’s robots have to have the ability to maneuver through maze-like hallways, corridors, and even unknown passages. These robots are quicker, more efficient, and can travel in places that humans cannot.

Here are some robots that use maneuvering skills:

  • Medical robots can deliver medicine quickly to patients throughout a hospital. As pharmacists enter prescriptions into their computers, the delivery robots collect the correct type and dosage by scanning the correct bar-codes. These delivery robots travel through the many hallways to take the labeled medications to nursing stations or even individual patient’s rooms.

  • Search and rescue robots are sent into hazardous areas to help locate people and bring them to safety. Finding people faster can save their lives, especially if they have serious injuries, by bringing much needed assistance to them.

  • Exploratory robots are essential when scientists are investigating uncharted areas, such as oceans and caves. These robots are designed to be durable in water and deep, dark areas. Robots can map these areas, take soil and air samples, and detect other hazards that would put people at risk if they were performing the same actions. Some of these robots are even used in space. The Mars rovers use many camera sensors to take pictures that are instantaneously converted into 3D maps that the rover will use to avoid obstacles in its path.

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - Thinking Like a Robot

If you completed the Extend Your Learning Activity in the Play Section, you can reference it to help introduce this section. Was it hard to maneuver to each other’s seat in the classroom?

Ask the students for examples of places that would be hard to maneuver around. Examples could include a busy hospital hallway or a construction area.

Discuss how helpful these types of robots are for people. Ask students to other places that robots help people by navigating through areas that may have unknown obstacles. Some examples could include a warehouse, the bottom of a lake, or an unknown planet.

Extend Your Learning icon Extend Your Learning - Where Robots are Used

Many robots are used to perform tasks that are too dangerous for humans to complete. Have the students think about a robot that could help humans stay safe. Draw a design of that robot. Have students label what sensors or features the robot has and explain where the robot would be used.

Students can also draw the environment that the robot will navigate. For example, students can design a robot that has a camera and radio that can be used to quickly search for someone who is lost. They can then draw a map of a park with trails that the robot would have to follow to find a lost hiker. When the hiker is found using the camera, the search and rescue team could speak to the hiker through the radio to see what medical attention is needed.