Making the switch to VRC

So I’m a mentor/coach for some of the MS kids at my local middle school. I mentored them in Elementary School for VEX IQ and I’ve seen them do great things, from winning the Amaze Award at Worlds and just doing great at their state level competitions. They’re an experienced group, doing this for about 2-3 years per student. We’ve got another trip back to Worlds this year, and it’s looking to be a fun time.

As I start my season recap, and seeing how the practices go, I see my team sort of loafing it. The work needed isn’t as consistent as it used to be, and it honestly feels like they think they’ve done all they can in IQ and just want to coast.

For next season, I’m debating on whether to continue doing IQ, or make the push for VRC to them. 1 will be in eighth grade, the others in 7th grade. Personally, I’d prefer they make the jump to VRC as I think they’re capable and can accept the challenge. I want to push these kids, and I want to see them take on real challenges. I’m just wary that the students are incredibly comfortable in IQ and might not want to disrupt their bubble, whereas I feel they’ve peaked.

What are some other factors I should look at as I begin to make my recommendation to the kids/parents that they should do VRC? (Money and supplies aren’t a problem, we have the funds to do it, and I have the connections and ability to acquire everything we need.

What would you ask your students?

Your students need to be prepaired to be less successful innitially. Based on your post, it sounds like your team has been very successful in IQ. VRC has a learning curve(just like IQ), and it takes a while to learn everything.
Also, your kids need to be willing to spend more time doing robots. Building VRC bots take signifigantly more time than IQ, as the robots are bigger and usually more complicated.

We just went the other way and started offering IQ this season to alleviate the stress of VRC size on our club. I like IQ for some aspects and prefer VRC for others.

The biggest difference I see is you will have more freedom of design and build in VRC. Larger robots means more stuff to stick inside. The snap together aspect of IQ makes building a robot really easy and a rebuild easy. VRC offers more design possibilities as you can craft your parts to meet your needs. The range of parts is larger in VRC as well.

Next is cooperative driving in VRC is different and more regulated. In IQ you hand the controller off and the stop of the match is regulated by a human while in IQ, once the match ends, no more signal for you! You have to communicate with your teammate and the other team.

Third is faster robots. You can have a bigger, faster, more powerful robot in VRC yet still be manageable. Depending upon your build you can have a really fast robot. Power of the IQ motor is low compared to the 393 motor. You also get to test the limits of the parts more in VRC than IQ. You can go to the edge of shut down easily in the 393 motors. Sensors need filtering yourself, and the internal PID is semi-useful but writing your own control loops is more learning for the kids.

Fourth is competing against someone directly versus indirectly. You have to communicate not only with another roboteer on your team but two other folks driving the robot working with you. Different style of play.

Fifth is the tools. You will work with tools now that need some safety training. You can get into power tools too. I recommend a small chop saw to help c-channel cutting.

Last one is you have to work with more people to build your robot in VRC. Teams of 4-5 are the norm in VRC with 2 is generally our IQ team size.

What state are you in?

I’m from VA.

Definitely no stranger to the work in VRC as I’m a former participant myself (this is 9th or 10th year involved).

The main part of the transition being possible is for me to effectively convince the kids that VRC is an exciting and fruitful endeavor, and that they can handle the challenge.

I moved from VRC to IQ (pilot program at the time) myself back in Sack Attack with @Sunil. It was quite the learning curve going from VRC to IQ, and I imagine it is the same going the other way. IQ allowed for far less complexity in design, meaning that the concepts we used in VRC weren’t really applicable in IQ. Parts were just too bulky in comparison to the size requirement and everything came apart too easily. I think the best way to effectively convince your students that VRC is exciting is by showing them that it really is the next level; show them the best of the best of VRC, like 62 last year, and I think they will see that VRC really is the next level and allows them to do new things that they couldn’t do before. Maybe also show them the middle school finals matches at worlds just to show what other kids the same age or younger can achieve, and I think they will understand that they can handle the challenge. While in the beginning there is a pretty sharp learning curve and you might not win as much as you are now, after some experience VRC becomes much more exciting to do.

To help them with the switch, encourage them to come on resources such as Vex Forum to help with their ideas and troubleshooting. There is always someone on, and people such as @jpearman can be very helpful when you start learning VRC coding

We are in our 13th year as a high school doing robotics (from before it was even known as VEX). We moved VRC down into our middle school about 5 years ago. We implemented IQ in our middle school last season and are looking to take it to our elementary schools next year. Sort of a top down approach, but that is the way the program unfolded. Our middle school is 5th-8th grades. This season we had 5th-6th graders doing IQ, 7th-8th graders doing VRC and naturally High School doing VRC. We plan on moving IQ down into 4th grade next season. I think this is a very logical progression.

I agree with the fact that IQ does have a limited ceiling and students could easily get bored after a couple of years. Same thing is true with FLL (FIRST Lego League), although I think it happens even faster with the platform as it has less upside than IQ, in my opinion. You don’t mention whether VRC is available in your local High School. I would definitely recommend moving your students to VRC, if you can.

Our entire county has the entire line of VRC and IQ competitions. When I was in MS I did VEX Robotics (back when it was the platform for FTC), so I’ve seen it grow enormously, and participated in HS and college.

The projected high school each of the students will go to will has a VRC program. There is also the FRC program which if they stick with it, I’ll also be around as a mentor for them.

The ES they come from does IQ from 4th-5th grade with 3rd graders getting a chance to learn the platform.

The MS I took over for this year (and won’t be returning for other reasons), I started 6th graders off on IQ, and 8th graders did VRC. I wanted 7th graders to do IQ, but was overruled on that.

Working with a few of these students for 2+ years, the ones I’ll have returning I’m absolutely certain are ready for the jump to VRC as 7th graders.

I’ll make the recommendation to them, luckily I have a whole slew of my own personal VEX stash I’m willing to part with to get them off the ground.

DON’T DO IT! Because then my team will be competing against yours in Virginia and I’m sure you’ll have a team that is top dog. Just kidding, of course.

I’ve never done Vex IQ but we started our VRC team last year with Skyrise. We recruited neighborhood kids and had 3 fifth graders and 3 8th graders. This year, we had four sixth graders and one eighth grader on our MS team. Even in 5th grade, the kid’s had an amazing capacity to visualize and build. These kids have not heard “no” enough (and I mean that in a good way) - so they have no preconceived notions about what would work and what won’t. Because of this, they come up with very innovative ideas that I never would have thought of. VRC gives them this freedom. In looking at the IQ system, it appears that they use a limited set of items. So don’t underestimate your kids. They most definitely have the capability to do VRC and believe they will enjoy it more than IQ.

Power tools. We don’t have many (dremel, drill, etc) - but we have had no problems with the kids using them. Some of them are afraid of the tools, and we don’t push but many are fine. We also have hack saws and hammers and stuff like that but have never had anything bad happen.

Hope to see you next year in VRC!