We’ve turned the page from 2019 to 2020, and at VEX we are ringing in the new year with new ways to engage schools and VEX Robotics competition teams with STEM. We’re excited to share and show off some of the things we released in January.
The unveil of VEX GO and 123
All young children are natural scientists and engineers. They explore, investigate, take things apart and put them back together. As a result, at VEX, we are firm believers that STEM starts early. To that end, we are so excited to share VEX GO and VEX 123. We had the pleasure of first sharing VEX GO and VEX 123 at the FETC and BETT education shows in January. VEX GO is an affordable construction system that teaches the fundamentals of STEM through fun, hands-on activities. VEX 123 is an interactive, programmable robot that introduces primary students to Computer Science.
Why you’ll love it:
The additions of VEX GO and 123 allows VEX Robotics to provide a continuous journey for students, teachers, and schools through STEM education. No need to try to piece together lessons and curriculum using different multiple providers. VEX offers a STEM education solution from Kindergarten to college.
VEX GO uses the same VEX plastic system as VEX IQ, but the motors and sensors have been made smaller, and the connector pegs have been made softer. This is all in order to make VEX GO approachable to younger students. To that end, we’ve also created the VEX Hand Tool.
Schools trying to introduce computer science to young students can face issues with tablets and computers for their classroom, there can be worries exposing students to prolonged screen time, and teachers may be reluctant to ask young, energetic students to sit passively behind a device while coding. VEX 123 solves all of these problems by taking computer science off of the screen:
The VEX Coder connects with 123 via Bluetooth, thus allowing students to create programs with the individual programming tabs. Students can learn about sequencing, conditional statements, and loops. Each programming tab contains an icon, so even pre-readers can successfully create a program.
VEX 123 is interactive. Students can press the buttons on the top to make the 123 move in a prescribed pattern, thus allowing even pre-K students the ability to learn sequencing in a fun and engaging manner.
In February, we can’t wait to share and show off our next set of STEM updates. Follow us on social media for more updates on VEX GO and 123. Also, there will be an upcoming webinar to discuss these platforms in more detail. Stay tuned!
We’ve added support for VEXcode V5 Text.
Why you’ll love it:
Teachers love our STEM Labs. STEM Labs are our supplemental educational resource, designed to support educators with free, easy to follow STEM lessons that align with educational standards. However, STEM Labs have not supported VEXcode V5 Text, until now. Whether you are using STEM Labs in your classroom or for your competition team, you can now use them to introduce text-based programming.
Don’t forget all the support (including a pacing guide, a letter home to parents, editable rubrics, answers to programming challenges) for these lessons provided in the Teacher’s Portal.
We’ll be continuing to add VEXcode V5 Text to our remaining V5 STEM Labs over the next few weeks.
VEX Robotics Knowledge Base
Why you’ll love it:
This is the time of year where many competition teams are tweaking the design of their robot. Maybe adding a sensor can help? The articles on the Ultrasonic Range Finder and the LED Indicator contain information on how these sensors work and specific recommendations on how they can be used on a competition robot. In classroom environments, students can apply sensors best when they have context on how the sensors actually work. This then allows students to make informed decisions when deciding which sensor to use in their assignments and challenges.
Here is a video that shows how the Ultrasonic Range Finder works:
For more advanced programmers or Computer Science classrooms, we’ve added some helpful articles on programming with Functions. Added in January were:
- What is a Function?
- Syntax used in creating a Function
- How to create a Void Function
- How to create a Function that returns a value
- How to create a Function with Parameters
If you’ve ever wondered what a function is and how it can be used in programming, these articles are a great resource. A function is a group of statements that are run as a single unit when the function is called from another. Commonly, each function will represent a specific behavior in the program, such as programming a robot to follow a line. Functions offer a number of distinct advantages, including:
- They save time and space by allowing common behaviors to be written as functions and then run together as a single statement.
- Separating behaviors into different functions allows your code to follow your planning more easily (one function per behavior or even sub-behavior).
Functions are an important part of the CSTA Computer Science standards. Therefore, if you are teaching functions in your Computer Science class, these articles are a great resource for your students. One of the more difficult things that students encounter with Functions is understanding the program flow of how Functions are called. There we’ve created this short video to help visualize the process (for best viewing, make the video full-screen).
Everything you ever wanted to know about VEX is located in the Knowledge Base. From just getting started to how to make a double reverse four-bar, the Knowledge Base will have the answer for you. We are in the process of giving the Knowledge Base a new look, so look for an update soon.