This article will provide you with resources, guidance, and options  as you look to teach with VEX IQ this fall.  

Disinfecting VEX

This article is based on CDC and EPA guidelines at the time of publishing.  VEX Robotics reviewed the chemical interactions of our product materials and the approved disinfectants to create these recommendations.  The article provides easy to follow, step by step recommendations for cleaning.

Going 1:1 with VEX IQ 

One of the reasons why VEX robotics is a great way to organize STEM learning is the collaborative nature of building and coding a robot.  Unfortunately, your school’s guidelines may prohibit multiple students working together on their VEX IQ robot in your classroom.  However, this does not mean that you cannot continue to teach and have your students continue to learn with VEX IQ.  Below are some resources and options that you can utilize, in order to go 1:1 with VEX IQ.  

  • If you have a VEX IQ kit for every student:  If you already have, or have just purchased, VEX IQ kits for every student in your class, then students can use STEM Labs and work independently with their VEX IQ Kit.  
  • If you have a VEX IQ kit for approximately half of your classroom: If you do not have enough VEX IQ kits for all of your students, then you can supplement them with VEXcode VR.  This pacing guide shows you how you can use VEXcode VR with the VEX IQ STEM Labs.  
  • If you have minimal VEX IQ kits and/or minimal devices in your classroom:  With VEX IQ kits and VEXcode VR, you still may run into an issue of not having enough computers or devices.  For example, you have 6 VEX IQ kits, 10 computers, and 18 students.  The 6 students with the IQ kits will need a computer/device to code their robot and another 4 students can use VEXcode VR.  Since social distancing won’t let multiple students work on a single computer, or with a single VEX IQ kit, some students will still need something to do.  Luckily, because of all of the plastic left over in the VEX IQ kit, there are still plenty of activities for the students to utilize.  The majority of the VEX IQ STEM Labs use two different builds: the VEX IQ Autopilot or the VEX IQ Clawbot.  Extend Your Learning activities within each STEM Lab offer opportunities for student engagement with additional building, reading, and research related extension activities.
  • Using the Knowledge Base:  Depending on your current implementation challenges, you may need some more resources so you can teach 1:1 with your VEX IQ robot.  The Knowledge Base is a library of information for all things VEX.  Like any library, the Knowledge Base can be used for reference, but it can also be used for teaching and learning.  Go here for more activities that students can complete with the Knowledge Base.  

Continue reading below for more information on how any of these options for going 1:1 with your VEX IQ robot can be successfully implemented.  

Using STEM Labs & Activities 

STEM Labs are a supplemental educational resource used by thousands of teachers all over the world.  Instead of having to create your own lessons and materials, STEM Labs provide free, easy to follow STEM lessons and activities that align with educational standards.  STEM Labs function as “plugin” lessons that can fit into your existing curriculum. You can also utilize multiple labs in a sequential order to create a unique, extended learning experience for your students.  STEM Labs can be the foundation of your classroom as you implement 1:1 with VEX IQ.  For more information about STEM Labs and all of the teacher resources provided with them, please read this recent blog post.  

Organizing Your Classroom

Social distancing will impact how your students move about the classroom with their robot. For example, multiple students will not be able to collect their robot or stand next to each other as they test the solution for their coding challenge within a STEM Lab.  Below is a list of options to organize your STEM classroom while adhering to social distancing.  

  • Have all of the materials at student workstations before class begins.  This can include batteries, USB cables, controllers, etc.  All of the STEM Labs contain a materials section, so you can identify what a student will need for a lesson before class begins.  
  • There are probably one or two areas in your classroom where students can run their VEX IQ robot.  Create a sign in sheet or use the board for students to write their name down so they can run their robot next.  You can also use an online form or document and project it in your classroom.  Once students have gone, they can cross their names off of the list.  
  • Another option is having one VEX IQ Robot that is handled just by the teacher.  With this scenario, the students can send you their code, and you then run the robot on the field.  This then eliminates the need to clean multiple robots.  
  • Make sure that you have time at the end of class to clean any materials that the students used.  If you are teaching multiple robotics classes, then you may not have time to properly clean what was handled by the students.  In this scenario, you may have to stagger classes that use VEX IQ and VEXcode VR. For example, period 1 uses one of the options for 1:1 with VEX IQ and period 2 utilizes just VEXcode VR.  This provides you with time for cleaning.  For period 3, you can then go back to using one of the options for 1:1 with VEX IQ.  

Teaching Strategies 

Once you have a structure for going 1:1 with VEX IQ in place, you can now focus on implementation details.  

  • Whole-class vs individual student learning:  You may choose to have your students all work at their own, individual pace, or you can implement whole-group instruction.  For help with either scenario, you can utilize this pacing guide, which combines VEXcode VR with the VEX IQ STEM Labs.  
  • Formative assessment & feedback:  Since there is so much that you’ll need to prepare for this upcoming school year, it is a good idea to try and narrow the scope of the learning objectives you’ll be addressing with your students.  The pacing guide lists several learning objectives for each section.  Choose one to emphasize.  Then, either at the beginning or during the class, make sure that the students have a clear understanding of the success criteria for that learning objective.  Keep the focus of the formative assessment and feedback on the learning activity, not on the student.  Finally, focus on the positive to help reinforce classroom procedures. 
  • Lesson planning:  Lesson plans are great for helping you to stay organized with your teaching.  We’ve provided a lesson plan template and some sample lesson plans to help you get started.
  • Troubleshooting:  Classrooms that follow social distancing guidelines will be a new experience for both students and teachers. Use these Troubleshooting and Getting Started guides from the Knowledge Base.  Have the students refer to these guides if they encounter any issues.  As was mentioned above, if students are able to diagnose and fix a problem, provide them with some positive feedback to reinforce the behavior.