Engaging Students Who Complete an IQ Build Quickly

As you are implementing IQ STEM Labs in your setting, students will naturally complete their builds at different times. If you want your class to work through STEM Labs together at a relatively uniform pace, it is important to think ahead about how you will engage those students who finish building earlier than others. This article provides several suggestions for meaningful learning activities they can complete as the rest of the group finishes building. 

Have Early Finishers Help Other Students

One way early finishers can put their skills to good use and learn while doing so, is by providing building help to students who need it. It's important to work together with your class to establish guidelines for student helpers, so they are able to provide assistance that helps their classmates to learn without stepping in too much and doing the building for them. Have a class discussion about what giving and receiving help from peers should look like and sound like, and create the guidelines together. Here are some suggestions for the kinds of guidelines that you could establish with your class.


  • Help only those who ask for help.
  • Help students in the order on the sign-up sheet.
  • Ask questions to be sure what kind of help is needed.
  • Provide suggestions for solving building problems, but do not touch the robot/build.

Students who need help

  • Ask a helper for help first, before asking the teacher.
  • Be patient and wait your turn.
  • Be specific about the building problem you need assistance with. 
  • Try the suggestions provided by the helpers, and ask more questions if needed. Do not expect helpers to do the building for you!

Creating a protocol for classroom helpers ahead of time will ensure that both the helpers and those who are being helped are challenged and engaged. Helpers will need to think carefully about how to communicate effectively, and those who are being helped will still need to use the information provided to engage in the productive struggle required when solving problems. Additionally, creating a sign-up sheet to establish in what order students will be helped can help prevent disagreements about whose turn it is.

Once you have established your classroom helping protocols, have students role play the helping procedure to practice it before they actually begin building in your classroom. This will go a long way towards helping students to employ the procedure successfully.

Have Students Complete IQ Activities

There are a number of IQ Activities students can do independently using pieces remaining in the IQ Kit after a build is completed. Students can be directed to choose from a list of these Activities, or can be assigned specific Activities depending on current learning goals. All of the activities to the left can be done with limited Kit contents.


Additionally, you can assign students an IQ Activity that gives them an opportunity to test their build. For example, if your students have built the BaseBot, they can do the Drive Forward and Reverse Activity. If they have built the Clawbot, they can try The Claw.

For more information about using VEX IQ Activities in the classroom, see this article.

Have Students Practice Coding Using VEXcode VR

If students are already familiar with VEXcode VR, students can practice coding a Virtual Robot as they wait for others to finish building. Assign students a VEXcode VR Activity that is appropriate for their level of experience for them to complete independently or in pairs. For more information about VEXcode VR, see this group of articles

Create a list of Additional Building Extension Activities Students Can Always Do

Another strategy for engaging students who are finished is to create a list of activities students can refer to and choose from when they are finished building. Engaging students in the creation of this list will make the list more relevant to your students and in your particular setting. Some ideas you may want to include in your are:

  • Document your Robot build in your Engineering Notebook.
  • Organize your IQ Kit or help others organize theirs.
  • Write a list of tips and tricks for completing a build successfully.
  • Sketch and label an idea for adding a feature to your build in your Engineering Notebook.

This list can be dynamic, as you and your students can add to it whenever a new idea arises.

For more information, help, and tips, check out the many resources at VEX Professional Development Plus

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