Currently, there are nearly 1.5 billion students worldwide who are home from school due to the coronavirus pandemic. At VEX Robotics, we are working hard to meet the reality that over 60 million teachers are now being asked to teach from their living rooms instead of their classrooms.
To help students and teachers stay connected to VEX Robotics and continue learning Computer Science, we have released VEXcode VR. VEXcode VR allows students to learn Computer Science while at home, even without a physical robot.
VEXcode VR facilitates learning Computer Science and Robotics by allowing students to code a virtual robot in a block-based coding environment. VEXcode VR is based on VEXcode, the same programming platform used for VEX 123, GO, IQ, and V5 robots.
VEXcode VR is web based; no software installations are required. Just go to vr.vex.com and begin learning. VEXcode VR utilizes a pre-built virtual robot. The VR Robot features drivetrains that help to make navigation easy, sensors that can be used to solve mazes, and a pen that allows students to code a creative drawing. To learn more about the features of the VR Robot, you can read this Knowledge Base article.
Students can choose from different virtual 3D playgrounds to use the virtual robot’s features. Students can also control their point of view as the robot runs their code. Playgrounds include a grid map, an art canvas, and a walled maze with more to be included. We’ve also added information in the Knowledge Base about the Virtual Playgrounds.
Get Help When and Where You Need It
VEXcode VR contains tutorial videos that can guide students to get started with VEXcode VR. Additionally, just like with VEXcode, there is help available for each block. Just select the help icon and choose a block to read the features of the block and examples of how the block can be used. If you want to see how the blocks can be combined to perform certain robot behaviors, then you can explore the example projects. This is a great resource for students to explore behaviors and find inspiration for their own programs. Finally, the VEX Robotics Knowledge Base is a library of information about all things VEX. We’ve added a new category containing articles for VEXcode VR.
VEXcode VR Activities
While our software team has been hard at work creating and testing VEXcode VR, our education team has been working to provide teachers and students with activities that can be utilized while students are learning from home. All of the materials are student-facing so teachers don’t have to adjust or create anything. We’ve created activities that cover the basic movements of the VR Robot, the sensors, and more advanced challenges. As with all of our educational developments, a portion of VEXcode VR challenges and activities allow students to achieve some success right away, while others provide more experienced programmers with an opportunity to grow and expand their Computer Science knowledge. All of the VEXcode VR activities are Google docs, which allows teachers to edit or modify them. Read here for more tips on how to use VEXcode VR activities.
Why VEXcode VR?
There are many online coding options currently available so what makes VEXcode VR different? If you’re using VEX Robotics in your classroom, for a competition, or both, VEXCode VR allows students to continue to learn the same programming language that is used for all VEX platforms. Additionally, students can learn how sensors can be utilized with robots to create complex (and fun) behaviors.
If you are not currently using VEX Robotics but are trying to teach Computer Science, then VEXcode VR has some features that you’ll find interesting. Educational robotics serves Computer Science education in many ways. First, robots are fun. No matter the subject, teachers are always looking for ways to engage and motivate their students. This challenge is arguably even more pronounced now that students are learning from home. Robots can help bring Computer Science to life. Also, the everyday relevance of robots in the lives of students provides a natural and authentic hook for student learning. The process of developing coding solutions with a robot provides a relevant context for engaging students in Computer Science. Robots utilize physics and sensors in addition to Computer Science further integrating Computer Science into STEM. The challenges in the Virtual Playgrounds help to contextualize STEM learning and provide the authentic inquiry that best promotes student learning.
Stay connected in the coming weeks to learn more about the updates we’ll be providing to VEXcode VR and look for other exciting announcements from VEX.