Workshop 1

Part 1: What is VEX IQ Challenge?

REC Foundation youtube video

VEX IQ Challenge or VIQC is an invitation to take part in a robotics game designed for students in 4th to 8th grade by VEX Robotics and the Robotics, Education and Competition (REC) Foundation. The VEX IQ robot kit is manufactured by VEX Robotics, and played on a 4 by 8 foot VEX IQ Field.

 

The game changes every year and is released at VEX World.

 

The robot kit and the field can be reused every year. You need a computer, Mac or laptop to update the firmware of the robot kit. You can use different software to program the remote control and/or the VEX IQ robot, but this is optional. The functionality of certain software might be different based on the hardware used.

There are certain aspects of the game that stay the same each year. The highlight of the competition is the Team Challenge, where 2 teams with each 2 drivers work together to score points within 1 minute. Within the team, the remote control needs to be handed over to the other driver between 35 and 25 seconds left on the timer. This promotes both game strategy, and teamwork, while performing under pressure in front of an audience. 

You can start a team with 2 students and a coach at home, after school or in school. You can organize scrimmage events or non-qualifying events without registering teams for practice or for fun. 

The REC Foundation organizes the VEX World Championship and overlooks qualifying events, local and regional competitions all over the world. 

Only registered teams can participate at qualifying events. An adult coach needs to register a team, and pay $150 for the first team every season. Every additional team belonging to the same organization represented by a number, costs $100. 

Qualifying events are organized by Event Partners and approved by the Regional Support Manager (RSM) a staff member of the REC Foundation. Event Partners are volunteers, who charge a team registration fee, to cover the cost of the competition or as a fundraiser,  through robotevents.com. Event Partners are often teachers, who teach a robotics class, or coach a robotics club at school or at an after school program. 

The Event Partner sets the fee and the components offered at the event. Some events will offer STEM Research video presentation project and will request videos to be uploaded prior to the event. This is only mandatory at championships. An Event Partner decides if judged awards will be offered or if the event will just offer performance awards based on skills and team challenge. The skills challenge consist of driver skills and autonomous skills. Every events needs to offer team challenge to be considered a qualifying event, skills only events are not qualifying events.

Every participant needs to sign a waiver to participate at a qualifying event. This can be uploaded electronically for the season by the coach/mentor of the team. Any attendant at a qualifying event (participant or spectator) agrees to the Code of Conduct. 

A qualifying event is often an all day event on a weekend, and might require travel outside your county or state. It is important to arrange transportation, or travel agreements with the parent(s) or guardian(s) prior to the competition. 

The ultimate goal of the VEX IQ Challenge is to attend VEX World Championship. 

 

There are different ways to participate in the competition.

 

You can receive an invitation to go to VEX Worlds based on individual or team online challenges, or you can receive an invitation as a team at a qualifying event, or you can place your team on the wait list. The number of attending teams depends on geographical quotas updated based on number of registered teams in an area. 

REC Foundation youtube video

Part 2: What do I need to go to a competition?

It depends on what you want to do. 

Step 1: Select what parts of VEX IQ Challenge competition

  • Online Challenges, individual or as a team

  • STEM Research Project video presentation

  • Teamwork Challenge, and Driving Skills Matches

  • Teamwork Challenge and Robot Skills Matches (both driving and programming)

You can start with the VEX IQ Challenge without participating in the STEM Research Project and/or Programmings Skills Matches of the competition. This has a direct impact on possible awards and invitations to reach the next level. 

Step 2: Students, hardware and software, coach

  • Students:

    • You need to create a team of students, minimum 2 and maximum 6. Minimum 2 students, each student would drive an inspected robot, and know how to play the game to score points for team challenge. The students could practice driver skills by playing the game by themselves, 1 inspected robot on the VEX IQ field with the new Squared away game.

  • ​Hardware:

    • A VEX IQ robot kit to build a VEX IQ robot that will pass inspection. When you register a team, you will receive Licence Plates for your team. 

    • A VEX IQ field to practice. (this is 4'x8' and will change to 6'x8' next season)

    • Squared Away game

    • Laptop for the coach to update firmware and trouble shoot equipment issues.

    • Laptop/tablet to program the remote, if you don't use the default pre-programmed ports for the Driver Control (on the brain)

    • Engineering notebook (graph notebook), pens to write in the notebook

    • Measuring tape

    • Screw driver to open remote controller

  • Software:​

    • VEXos firmware for the brain​

  • Software to program the remote:

    • VEXCode Blocks​ (released August 2019, recommended)

      • Modkit (no longer available to download)

      • Graphical RobotC (no longer available to download on vexrobotics.com, only available on RoboMatter under EDR)

      • RobotMesh Studio

      • FLOWOL

  • Coach:​

    • Teaches basic concepts, keeps students focused, inspires students to research or scout solutions online or at competitions by interacting with other teams

    • A facilitator, who will guide to team on this journey

    • A project manager related to budget, transportation and scheduling competitions

    • VIQC is student-centered, the coach is there to help the team and provide a fun experience for everyone involved. There is an REC Foundation Student-Centered Policy applying to all competitions.

 

Step 3: Set clear expectations for everyone involved. 

  • Teacher/coach

  • Student/team member

  • Parent

  • Volunteer

  • Admin

Teacher/coach:

What is the ultimate goal?

Option 1:

Ultimate goal is learning, educational. You might use the game in your regular class or club. You might suggest to students to go see a competition. Competitions are open to the public and free. You can share information about possible competitions in your area by verifying the published events on robotevents.com. You might create a flyer with possible events or communicate with the parents by email or social media. There is no additional liability or time commitment. 

Option 2:

You want to compete with your team at an event. 

Thank you for stepping into coaching!

If you have any sports at your school, ask the coach for some basic tips. Robotics competition is a team sport. 

As a coach, you create a project plan based on your resources: materials, time and budget. You assign the roles and responsibilities, so everyone has clear expectations. 

Here are some examples of questions:

  • Are you going to compete at a qualifying event or a scrimmage?

    • Registration is required on robotevents.com to get a team number/letter​.

 

  • The first team registration fee is $150, each additional team is $100

  • Each competition (event) has limitations related to # teams attending per organization and an additional fee.

  • Qualifying events require a signed waiver for all participants (including adults), this can be uploaded online for the season.

  • Code of conduct applies to everyone present. Go over it with both students and chaperones/adults. 

    • Do you organize a scrimmage during your regular sessions?

    • Do you invite other teachers, students and/or parents?

    • Do you need chaperones/volunteers?

  • Is the competition during regular school hours, after school or on the weekend? Do you need permission from Admin, parents?

  • Is the trip to the competition a field trip?

  • Who provides transportation to the event?

  • Is there a cost associated with the competition? Is this included with the team or does the student need to pay additional to participate?

  • Are your team members available on the weekend? Do they play sports? Do they have transportation to bring them to school or the competition?

  • If you compete, what is the highest level you will take your team? Regional Championship ($175 without travel expenses) or World Championship ($945 without travel expenses)?

Student/team member

Option 1: Student is in a class and needs to follow class rules to maintain grades

Option 2: Student selects this as an after school club activity and signs a student contract

Option 3: Coach uses a selection process to admit students and signs a student contract

Parent

Parent signs a contract based on the expectations related to fees, transportation, travel and student attendance.

Ideally, the parent becomes a verified volunteer and can act as a chaperone or a volunteer at the competition. Parents can assist with fundraising or activities related to outfits, snacks etc. Parents can also network or act as a Subject Matter Expert for STEM Research Project or mechanical design challenges the students are facing.

Volunteer

Volunteers might not always be a Lake County Schools volunteer or a verified volunteer. Ideally volunteers are trained prior to the day of the event. Head referees need to be 16 or older, judges need to be 18 or older. 

Admin

The admin is aware of the robotics program and can assist by creating awareness in the community to improve fundraising opportunities or volunteer at events. Students and teachers appreciate if admin stops by at competitions for award ceremonies. Updates can be provided on Social Media or in the Schools News Letter to create awareness similar to other sports. 

Vex IQ super kit.png
competition_add_on_kit_3_1.png

A Super kit Left

A competition add-on kit below

Vexos.png
vexcode blocks.png

Part 3: What educational resources are available?

There are several options to get started: the manufacturer, the organization behind the competition, and third party companies (partners) offer lessons and different curriculums or different software for the programming part. 

To build a basic confidence, both the facilitator and the students need to understand the basic components to compete. There is a new game every year, but the hardware and the software to play the game stay mostly the same. 

 

The curriculum designed by VEX Robotics only uses pieces from the super kit and is available for free online. This curriculum provides a basic understanding of mechanical design, parts of a robot and programming with Graphical RobotC. The programming part has been updated with VEX Code IQ Blocks in the new curriculum VEX IQ STEM Labs. Students are familiar with Scratch. This new software is based on Scratch.

For the VEX IQ Challenge, teams are allowed to use any software that works with the brain. 

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy provided a curriculum based on Graphical RobotC with a virtual simulation for the actual game available on Robot Virtual Worlds. It allowed a lot of students to simulate how different, pre-designed robots, were performing on the field. At this moment in time, there is no virtual version of this year's game available (09/16/2019).

I strongly recommend creating accounts for your students in 6th-8th grade to follow the curriculum for the mini certification and replace Graphical RobotC with VEXCode IQ Blocks.

https://www.cs2n.org/certifications, even if you don't have a licence for http://robotvirtualworlds.com/ 

  • Step 1: 4th - 8th grade

Module B to learn basic pieces from the VEX IQ curriculum. 

Module F to understand that the type of wheels will impact friction, center of gravity will impact if your robot tips over and speed vs torque when you pick gears.

Module G3 and G8 to understand gear ratios. 

  • Step 2: 4th-5th grade

Refresh basic concepts of measuring in inches and mm, measuring angles. 

  • Step 2: 6th -8th grade only

Use CS2N.org and assign Robot Math and print the badges for the students, then go to VEX IQ Getting Started.

 

  • Step 3: 4th - 8th grade

VEX IQ STEM Labs. Create an account for the teacher portal and create accounts for your students.

VEX IQ Robotics Education Guide picture.
VEX IQ Teacher Supplement picture.png

Click the image to download the pdf document

CS Stem Logo.png
VEX IQ STEM Labs picture.png
Speed build.png
Myfirstrobot.png
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Disclaimer. No affiliation with REC Foundation, VEX Robotics, FIRST, Lego, Robonation or any other manufacturer or nonprofit organizing competitions.

All opinionions/recommendations are based on experience as a consumer or end user.

The author is not liable for any misinformation. All the links are provided to the different organizations/websites. This is shared information from one volunteer to another. 

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