Competition with a Purpose!
Speed and Control
Each year, students can design and build a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge presented by the Robotic Education and Competition (REC) Foundation. Tournaments are held year-round at the regional, state, and national levels leading to the VEX Robotics World Championship each April.
The VEX IQ Challenge is played on a 4’x8’ rectangular field. Teams program their robots to move around the field grabbing, tossing, and placing game pieces in scoring zones in order to earn the most points.
In the 2019-2020 challenge entitled Squared Away, teams have to move balls in the squares as well as on top of the squares. Like Italy’s Trash Robot, the driver will purposefully move and teams will work together to collect and move the squares into the correct color space at the corners of the board.
Here are some typical behaviors for a VEX Robot:
Moving forward and backward
Turning left and right
Grabbing a game object
Precisely placing a game object
Sorting between different game objects
Throwing or launching a game object
There are two types of challenges the teams will tackle. In the Robotic Skills Challenge, teams try to score as many points as possible with their robotic build in two types of matches. Driving Skills Matches are entirely driver controlled and Programming Skills Matches are autonomous with limited student interaction. The second type of challenge is the Teamwork Challenge, in which two robots compete in the challenge as an alliance in 60 second long matches, working together to score the most points.
VEX Competitions give students the opportunity to:
Demonstrate their driving and programming skills.
Work together as a team to solve problems.
Meet new people from their community, state, and even other countries.
Teacher Tips - Scaffolding
Have students start with simple tasks first and then combine those tasks into more advanced autonomous programs. Remember that teams can reset their robots as many times as they want during the Robot Skills Programming portion.
Extend Your Learning - Let's Start Planning Like a Team!
Visit the REC Foundation website and watch the video introducing the current challenge by clicking this link.
Challenge students to work in small groups to brainstorm a list of behaviors that a team's robot would need in order to solve this year's challenge.
Students should share their ideas with the rest of the class and then combine the lists together into a master list. This student created list can be used by the teacher for planning purposes when choosing additional VEX STEM labs to complete.
After sharing their list of behaviors, students can be further prepared for competitions by asking the groups to organize the following in their engineering notebooks:
Sketch the game field and map out routes the robot should follow in order to score points.
Explain in plain language each behavior the robot needs to carry out (this is known as pseudocode).