I’m super excited as our admin has approved my proposal to bring VEX robotics to our school. I’ve attended some local tournaments, met with some local coaches and have been lurking on the boards and soaking everything up. There are some threads with great info but I’m looking to pick your brains for advice re: our particular setup. Thanks in advance!
I teach at a charter school for (mostly) gifted kids, grades 6-12. I have taught a middle school Lego Mindstorms course elective for several years now and we’re adding some additional Robotics courses. I wanted to roll them out over a couple of years but circumstances have necessitated that I start them all up at the same time in 2020-2021. That gives us time to get ready.
The plan, which could be a bit overwhelming for one year, is to add one section of VEX IQ for grades 7 and 8 (w/ Lego Mindstorms class as a prerequisite that can be taken as early as 6th grade) and one section of VEX EDR for high school students (no prerequisite). Each section would have up to 30 students and I’ve gotten approval for 12 IQ and 10 V5 EDR superkit/bundles, plus fields and game elements. They are converting an empty industrial style space into a new classroom/lab. It’s significantly larger than a typical classroom and I would have enough room for fields and desks.
Our school is big on project based learning so it’s a great fit. Students will be all over the board in their abilities; some with prior experience or easily able to pick things up, while others would need more support. Ideally, we want to have students prepare for official competitions, even if they decide to only participate in the in-school “tournament” at the end of the semester.
What I worry about is how to set up the curriculum or other supports necessary. Classes would be one semester (Fall) and meet for about 4 hours per week on modified block. I could also open up the lab during lunch and continue to have that available to continue after the course officially ends at the end of December.
With such a short time, I don’t know how much, if any, lessons I should run through. Would it suffice to put together curricular supports (on a google site an/or in Google Classroom) but start by getting down brass tacks on the competition? I would think starting with a quick overview of the design process, followed by initial organizational activities (picking teams, discussing Engineering Notebooks in detail, etc.), analyzing the game, etc. This would allow teams able to progress on their own to move on and allow me to focus more on the other teams.
I still have many other questions, i.e. should I even think about getting into a CAD program the first year? Any feedback would be appreciated, but in particular advice on room design (construction will start soon and I will move to the new digs in this summer), how to structure things, and what I should focus on this first year in order to survive. Also, given the significant time I have before classes would start (Fall 2020), what should I do in the meantime to prepare?
Feedback from both students and coaches appreciated!