Teaching with the VEX GO kit enables the teacher to be largely in the role of facilitator for much of the building process. The idea of building with students and lots of loose parts can be daunting, but the organization of the VEX GO platform gives teachers the support they need to make building organized, accessible, and fun.
Building Meets Organization
The VEX GO Kit is presorted and organized, to make both finding and gathering pieces, and cleaning up, easy for students and teachers alike. Students can carry complete kits to their group’s space, gather materials, and close the lids when they begin building.
Within the STEM Labs student roles are identified, and time is allotted for students to organize their group into Builders and Journalists. These roles give each student specific aspects of the building and learning activities to be responsible for – eliminating confusion, and promoting whole group engagement. Student groups may stay the same over time, but their roles within the group can change for each STEM Lab, or even within each Lab to give everyone an opportunity to practice all facets of the STEM Lab experience. Use the Robotics Roles & Routines to facilitate students' organization and collaboration. The Robotics Roles & Routines sheet, in conjunction with the "Suggested Role Responsibilities" slide in the Lab slideshow offers guidance for group work. See the Using Robotics Roles & Routines to Support Group Work with VEX GO article for more information about how to use this tool with students.
New to Building? We’ve got a Unit for that!
The Intro to Building STEM Lab Unit is designed for students and teachers to grow acquainted with components of the kit, how to build with the VEX GO system, and explore the design thinking process. Taking time to work through this Unit will give your class a shared language to use when talking about kit pieces and builds, and sets a foundation for best practices that will carry throughout the school year.
In addition, the VEX Library holds useful articles about the Pieces in the VEX GO Kit and how to build with VEX GO, for reference and support any time you need it.
Build Instructions In Every STEM Lab
Every STEM Lab is linked to Build Instructions that are specific to the build used in that lab, within the Materials List in the Lab Summary. Build Instructions include a parts inventory, so students can gather all materials needed at the start of the building process; step by step visual images (without words) to show exactly how to orient and manipulate the pieces. These PDF files can be downloaded and printed (or opened on any classroom device) for each group to have their own set of instructions. This can enable groups to build at their own pace, and give the teacher time to help students who may need extra help or support. Build Instructions can also be displayed for the whole classroom, if having groups build together would work better for your class.
Teacher Support for Facilitating Building
Also included in each STEM Lab are tips and tricks for troubleshooting that are specific to the build in each Lab. These teacher troubleshooting notes are meant to give in the moment support for teachers to be better able to anticipate and answer questions to help students solve problems when they are building.
Contained in One Class Period
Many of the VEX GO builds are designed to be built and deconstructed within one class period. This makes the VEX GO system ideal for teaching multiple STEM classes in one day. Whether in your classroom or traveling, the VEX GO Kits are designed to be stable, contained, and portable to fit with the variety of teacher settings in schools. Be sure to alot time and assign either Builders or Journalists to be responsible for cleaning up when it occurs.
Allow Time for Clean Up and Deconstruction
While STEM Labs build in the time to build as part of the overall lesson plan, there are many different opportunities to deconstruct or clean up your VEX GO experience depending on your particular classroom setup and design. You may want to keep builds intact for a time to enable additional extension activities, or you may have multiple classes using the kit throughout the day, and need things taken apart each class period. There are multiple opportunities within a Lab and Unit to take apart the builds and clean up (like the Mid-Play Break), but it is important for the teacher to decide what will work best in your situation. You can rotate the cleaning responsibilities between Builders and Journalists each day, week, or class period.
Empower Students to Share Strategies
As students gain experience and practice with building with the VEX GO Kit, they are likely to find strategies and simple tips and tricks that help them to be successful. Encourage students to share these ideas with others, and ask students to seek and provide helpful feedback to their peers during building times. The teacher doesn’t need to be the only one who can answer questions during a STEM Lab, but students can help each other as they continue to learn from and with one another.
Additional Facilitation Strategies to Support Building
- Use the Pin Tool - Model for students how to use the Pin Tool. The VEX Pin Tool makes it easy to disassemble pieces in the VEX GO construction system. The Pin Tool has several features that can be used to make disassembling easy: the Puller, the Pusher, and the Lever. For more information on how to use the Pin Tool, view the Using the VEX Pin Tool article.
- Establish a Troubleshooting Process Together with Students - To promote student problem solving, talk together about a simple process for troubleshooting that can be used by anyone in the classroom. Something as simple as identifying the problem, retracing your steps, and rebuilding, can help students to fix their builds before asking for teacher help.
- Make a Question System - As teachers are working with multiple groups, it can be hard to keep track of who is asking what, and where that group is. Making a system for asking questions can help streamline that confusion. Writing questions on the board, signing up for teacher help, or even having a raised sign, can give visible cues that minimize students’ talking over each other, and gives the teacher a chance to prioritize and strategize support.
- Celebrate Failure and Iteration - Students can feel uneasy when faced with making mistakes or needing to change a design or process. Help them grow more comfortable with this by celebrating failed attempts and the learning that occurred from it and rewarding iterative design. Calling attention to problems and highlighting students’ problem solving skills, helps to build a classroom culture that isn’t afraid of failure, but sees it as an opportunity to learn.