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  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • Time: 1 week
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Students will investigate how the arm of the Workcell moves within the Cartesian coordinate system. Students will download an example project, then manually move the arm of the Workcell. They will observe how the movement of the arm changes the (x, y, z) coordinates displayed on the Brain’s screen. Then, students will find the coordinates of four different points on their Workcell. Students will also explore different robot configurations, and their limits of motion.

Essential Question(s)

  • How does the arm of the Workcell move within the Cartesian coordinate system? 


Students will understand:

  • That the arm of the Workcell moves in 3D space (x, y, z).

  • The connection between the values from the 'Manual Movements' example project and the current position of the arm in 3D space.


  • Identify the orientation of the x, y, and z-axes on the Workcell.

  • Identify how the x, y, and z-values change when the arm on the Workcell moves.

  • Identify where the (0, 0, 0) location is on the Workcell. 

  • Identify that the 'Manual Movements' example project displays the x, y, and z-coordinate values for the current position of the arm in 3D space. 

  • Identify where to download VEXcode V5.

  • Identify how to launch VEXcode V5.

  • Identify how to connect your device running VEXcode V5 to the Brain on the Workcell. 

  • Identify how to open an example project. 

  • Identify how to download, run, and stop a VEXcode V5 project.


Cartesian Coordinate System (in 3D space)
A system based on three mutually perpendicular coordinate axes: the x-axis, the y-axis, and the z-axis. All three x, y, and z-axes intersect at the point called the origin (0, 0, 0).

Materials Needed

Quantity Materials Needed
1 per group

V5 Workcell

1 per group

VEXcode V5

1 per group

Engineering Notebook

1 per group

Device to run VEXcode V5

1 per group

Micro-USB cable

1 per group

Measuring Device

1 per group

Seek Checklist (Google Doc / .docx / .pdf)

1 per student

Play Checklist (Google Doc / .docx / .pdf)

Educational Standard(s)

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) HS-ETS1-2: Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
  • International Society for Technology in Education ISTE 5c: Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.
  • Common Core State Standards CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Go to this page in the Knowledge Base to see a cumulative list of VEX V5 Workcell STEM Labs standards.

Environment Setup

Before beginning this Lab, gather materials listed below or complete the steps outlined to ensure your classroom environment is set up to implement the Lab successfully.

During this Lab, there will be portions of the Play section where you are encouraged to demonstrate certain movements on the Workcell for your students, before they engage in the activity. Ensure that you have a Workcell available for you, whether you have your own designated Workcell, or you want to demonstrate on a group's Workcell. Ensure you have the following prepared for the demonstration:

  • A built Workcell.
  • Newly recorded mastering values.
    • Students will be required to do this during the Seek section of this Lab. If you have your own designated Workcell, ensure you also follow the steps of this section with your Workcell.
  • The 'Manual Movement' project created and downloaded to the Brain. 
  • A measuring device.