New to teaching VEX-any help would be much appreciated

Hello everyone,

I am new to teaching VEX robotics, as well as teaching at the High School level. I have tried to find some type of roadmap to guide me in trying to come up with a suitable curriculum focused on VEX robotics, with very little success. If anyone would be willing to help, I would be extremely grateful. Once again, thank you in advance for any help.

My teacher started us off with a “cook book” claw bot to help introduce robotics to us. The claw bot helps to teach the basic fundamentals of vex robotics in my opinion as a student. I’m not in any position to offer advise on a curriculum, though.

This really helped us learn the basics with the vex curriculum here: http://curriculum.vexrobotics.com .

My opinion would be to start off with only 3-5 people on the team if you want to be competitive. you can also look at other threads on the forum for help on what to buy on a budget. I don’t think there is much of a “road map” worth following. I would start with a claw bot, then have them build there own driving bot or add onto the claw bot using there own ideas. most people on this forum would agree with me that the best “curriculum” is to let the students learn themselves by building and programming the robots from there own ideas. They will be more motivated this way and consequently go a lot further in robotics. if you have a larger class, or more than 7 people on the team, give them a simple challenge or help them think of a small goal based off of this years game Nothing but Net even if they are not going to compete. don’t give them all the ideas or tell them what to build. help guide them when they are having problems and keep them thinking.

maybe we can help you more if you enlighten us more about your class/team.

Hope that helps,

What are your resources/ student numbers etc… Do you have access to programming and CAD software and how advanced are your students. Depending on what you have in class challenges are a great way to teach VEX and the engineering design process. Have your students get into groups of 3 or 4 and compete in a task against the others. Have them notebook as they are going along as well. The curriculum posted is a great starting block to look at if you have a less experienced class that needs to get the fundamentals down. Some big tips for teaching robotics in school settings.

Always make sure you hammer cleaning time, typically the last 5-10 min. of class, VEX parts are small and costly to replace if swept up by the janitor.

Put a system in place that lets the students put their parts at the end of class. We use about 60 containers like these for all of our parts storage. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-5.5-Quart-Latch-Box-Set-of-6/20699632

Building a robot takes a lot more time than expected. I usually use a rule of “5” being that if it takes me 10 min. to build it give the students 50. This isn’t always the case, but it’s better for your students to take their time and build it right the first time.

It’s a few years out of date now, but there may still be some useful information on my old blog site https://botshop.wordpress.com/

I wrote most of the VEX related entries during a time when VEX was growing rapidly in BC and I was getting lots of similar questions from teachers.

The good news is that whether or not my advice was any good, VEX continued to grow in BC. So at least I know the advice is not actively BAD. :slight_smile:

I found it fun and entertaining to take a VEX kit home and try building a robot myself. In fact, I enjoyed it enough that I bought my own kit so I didn’t have to ask to borrow the kids’ robots.

Jason

It depends on what your goals are.

If you want to give kids a fun experience that will get them interested in STEM, just let them build and offer some help if something isn’t working and they’re really lost (especially with electronics/software problems which students won’t always have the skills to solve themselves). More guidance than that is optional, and opinions differ as to how helpful it actually is.

If you want to use VEX to give a more practical context to what kids are learning in classes, or to teach them about engineering topics that are relevant to Vex, I agree that the vex curriculum is the easiest place to start.

Other materials exist, but they are scattered around the internet and aimed at a wide variety of ability levels. Vamfun’s blog has lots of valuable information (most of it is fairly advanced). The threads posted by jpearman in this forum are very detailed and helpful as reference materials (they mostly cover advanced programming and electronics).

It’s possible that you might find something you could use at aura.org.nz/educational (we are college students though, not professionals, so we may be wrong sometimes).

Another educational resource is the RECF educational video competition: 2013 2014 2015. Bear in mind that these do not get fact checked by experts. If they did better in the competition they’re more likely to be correct, but the winning videos may still have mistakes in them.

Hi, I’m also new

What’s the focus for the learning?

a) a class and a curriculum to learn robots and programming?

b) get a club competing in Vex?

Slightly different answers depending upon your needs.

38 students in all. Will compete locally. Trying to decide between CMU and intelitek Rec.

Cool beans, an 11 robot club your first year out! The links above are your best set of places to start.

Your biggest problems are not going to be around the “how to build a robot” but around “how to manage the parts”. There are some good posts here about storage of parts, how to manage individual teams, how to manage teams that hoard parts, how to manage all the parents that will be around to help (You are getting other mentors right?!?)

We went from 4 teams to 10 in one fell swoop and I went from a hands on mentor teaching to the supply and logistics mentor. With 11 robots you are managing $15,000 in parts. Depending on your area doing three events and wrangling 38 roboteers and 38 parents (you need to take volunteers to the events) with car pools, lunch, team shirts, etc. it’s not a single person task. Find one of your parents that managed Girl Scout Cookie sales, they are your best resource for how to do this. (Really. GS Cookies. Lots of inventory that you need to account for. Families hoard cookies that they are not going to sell and WILL return to you at the last moment but other scouts could have sold. Sales at locations like the mall that you need to figure the logistics out. And so on. Don’t dis the Cookie Mom, they are your rock star in waiting. ) ((And yes, I was the Cookie Mom for a year, this VEX stuff is easy next to that))

Unfortunately, the local competition may limit each school to only two teams per. I also would like to know people’s opinion about their preference which curriculum they use. I signed up for CMU training but recently heard about Intelitek.

Do mind if I ask where you are from? This is the first I have heard of limiting teams to local competitions.

I think most people probably won’t know what you are talking about, because most people don’t use any of these. As the competition has matured, it has got to a point where in a lot of places the easiest way to get people up to speed is to get someone who has done it before to show them.

So, here are the links for people who are confused (I was):

The VEX curriculum
This is pretty much just mechanical stuff - it doesn’t teach programming. It’s free and it’s good.

The CMU curriculum
This teaches RobotC (CMU is involved in making RobotC). It’s also free and also good. Definitely use this if you have already bought RobotC. The main part of the curriculum is here (it’s a series of videos). They have an older version here.

The Intelitek Curriculum
This doesn’t appear to be free so I can’t just link to it. Their website is confusing and a bunch of their internal links just 404 (which, for a tech sector company, makes me inclined not to trust them). I’m not really sure if you are supposed to go here or here or here. Also, it seems to be aimed at FIRST robotics as opposed to VEX. I imagine this curriculum teaches EasyC (which is an Intelitek product), but I don’t remember ever hearing anyone recommend the Intelitek curriculum.

If you have already bought EasyC, you have a choice between buying the Intelitek curriculum, learning EasyC some other way, or starting again with RobotC and using the (free) CMU curriculum. The third option is probably not as wasteful as it sounds.

I think he may have been referring to this but I am not sure. I had a middle school teacher who did this so when I read the teacher signed up for CMU training it was my first thought.

http://www.education.rec.ri.cmu.edu/content/lego/teacher_training/

I would use http://www.intelitek.com/engineering/rec_curriculum/ for the link for REC. I can recommend the curriculum as a great tool for VEX. It is focused on the Engineering Design Process and keeping an engineering notebook using VEX metal with programming based on EasyC with VEX sensors. It also covers basic electronics and it does a good job covering PID and Kinematics and the basics of computing. It’s a bit costly, but it also has a LMS which allows for the teacher to set up the grade book online in order to keep track of progress. As far as lessons go you should be able to complete two a day.

There is one quick update to this; we have recently updated the VEX Cortex curriculum that we offer to a new, more user-friendly format. This new curriculum (still free to view and use online!) can be found by navigating to ROBOTC’s home page and clicking on the ‘VEX CORTEX Video Trainer
for ROBOTC’ link on the right side of the page (you may have to scroll down a tiny bit to find it). I’ve also included a direct link below for your convenience.

VEX Cortex Video Trainer using ROBOTC: http://www.education.rec.ri.cmu.edu/products/cortex_video_trainer/index.html

On a side note, have you checked out the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy site designed specifically for VEX Robotics instructors, www.vexteacher.com? This page has links to almost everything we offer that is VEX related, including our free online curriculum, our training programs, explanations of the ROBOTC/Natural Language/Graphical Natural Language programming options, etc. We also have a ‘Getting Started’ section that walks through selecting the appropriate hardware/software combination for your class:

VEX Teacher - Getting Started (Cortex): http://education.rec.ri.cmu.edu/vex/getting-started/

Finally, we are offering all VEX Robotics Competition and VEX IQ teams with a free license of the ROBOTC Robot Virtual Worlds software for the 2015 Summer season; you can find more information on the Robot Virtual Worlds software and the free license offer via the links below. This is a good way to get started with the ROBOTC language and allows the students to get started with robotics programming during the summer from the comfort of their own home.

ROBOTC Robot Virtual Worlds: http://robotvirtualworlds.com/
Free Summer 2015 ROBOTC Virtual Worlds License: http://robotc.net/vex/

There is a lot more that we offer (including the Computer Science Student Network (http://cs2n.org/), teacher and student certification courses, and more) that I haven’t covered here. If you or anyone else in this thread has any questions about anything ROBOTC/Robot Virtual Worlds, our curriculum, training, etc, please let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help!, teacher and student certification courses, and more) that I haven’t covered here. If you or anyone else in this thread has any questions about anything ROBOTC/Robot Virtual Worlds, our curriculum, training, etc, please let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help!)

I guess what I am asking is what are you using to program the VEX robots? I am trying to find out what the majority of the community is using as far as programming is concerned.

We use Robot C for the programming. We teach roughly to the Vex curriculum but are club oriented where we highlight specific items per each year’s game versus a set school curriculum to use year over year.

For instance, some games depend upon using a potentiometer to control lift heights, this game does not so it will be de-emphasized this year.

Here is a Poll someone did on the forum several years ago showing 64% use RobotC. I would even assume that this number has grown since then but I can’t find newer data.
https://vexforum.com/t/robotc-vs-easyc/19682/1

Recently someone put together a list of who they thought were some of the most fearsome VEX teams.

The top 4 all use RobotC. This is just off the top of my head so in all likely hood most of the other top 10 teams use RobotC as well.

If you are doing a team where education is a big priority than I would highly advise RobotC as it will give a more realistic coding experience than easyC without raising the required knowledge to start. EasyC is nice if a team doesn’t have a dedicated programming member and only wishes to make simple code for driving the robot.

RobotC even has a nice documentation/community/Technical Support guy named John. :slight_smile: