V5 STEM Lab SPARK and Learn Practice Compete Overview

Learning Sequence in SPARK STEM Labs

STEM Labs follow a sequence of learning experiences. The learner is asked to do the following:

  • Create a build or an artifact.
  • Explore the build or the artifact and speculate as to its possible application in the real world.
  • Learn by doing.
  • Make changes to a design or a build to improve and enhance it.
  • Assess knowledge.



Each engineering-focused STEM Lab begins with instructions for creating a working build or guidelines for an original design. If building from a set of given instructions, learners should be given ample time to follow the step-by-step instructions for creating the build whether individually or in small groups. After creating a design or build, learners are asked to test what it does. Learners are told to experiment with the build and answer various questions, such as what it does, how it might be used, what if any mechanical advantage it affords, and how to explain the build using engineering terms. Learners are directed to answer these questions within their engineering notebooks because the intent is to have their answers be available for review and feedback. The amount of time allotted to this portion of the STEM Lab can vary depending on whether time permits and whether all groups of learners are proceeding at the same rate.



The play section within a STEM Lab begins with a brief reading that provides a context for the concepts or skills within the activity. A short procedure may follow to explore the new skill or concept introduced. Most often, learners will return to testing their builds to recognize some feature of its design but there are many different types of activities that they may complete. Some STEM Labs will focus on a single activity by having only one reading and one procedural activity, but most have more than one activity so that multiple concepts or skills can be introduced and more complicated concepts can be explored.



This section is where learners are provided with examples of how the concepts they are being introduced to applies to their daily lives. They are also offered a look into the application of those skills in the competitive aspect of robotics and engineering.



After learning about the concepts within the build, learners are given the opportunity to explore further with their build through a challenge. After creating the environment for the build, students may need to modify their build for success. Most of the challenges are competitive in nature and foster hands-on learning. Learners are directed to record and justify the changes they make in their engineering notebooks. Questions are posed to ask about both the design and testing phase. The amount of time allotted to this portion of the STEM Lab can vary depending on the scope of the challenge.



At the end of the STEM Lab, learners are asked questions about the concepts taught throughout the lab. Questions can be printed if they are to be completed by hand and turned in for a grade. Most questions are multiple-choice or true-false. Whether working in teams, group, or classroom settings, the answers to the questions can be discussed to make sure that all learners recognize the correct answers and why they are correct. Answers are provided in the STEM Lab Preview page.

Overview of V5 Learn Practice Compete STEM Labs

Each Learn Practice Compete STEM Lab Unit is structured around a culminating STEM game competition, so that you can bring the excitement of a VEX Robotics Competition to your classroom to drive student engagement and motivation. Each Unit contains a series of Lessons, that lead to a Unit competition, and culminate in a Conclusion Lesson that connects students' learning to real life STEM careers. Each Lesson follows a predictable Learn - Practice - Compete format.

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The Learn section is the direct instruction component in which the skills and concepts of the Lesson are presented in video format.

The video presentation enables teachers to be facilitators of students’ learning. Students can easily revisit the video content at any time throughout the Unit, making differentiating instruction easy. Lesson Summaries are also provided that summarize the content in the video in an editable Google doc format.

Additionally, Check Your Understanding questions are offered as editable Google docs, so that you can easily engage in formative assessment with students.

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During the Practice section, the skills and concepts taught in Learn are put into the context of the competition game. Students have an opportunity to apply their learning to accomplish a Practice activity.

Again, videos and animations are used to help ensure that students and teachers are on the same page in terms of the goal of the activity, and the practical application of the Learn content.

The Practice activity content is also an editable Google doc, so it can easily be tailored to meet the needs of your students.

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The Compete section is a mini-competition that lets students practice the skills they will need to apply to the Unit competition game. In each Compete challenge, an element of the competition game is highlighted, and students engage in the engineering design process to optimize their robot and code for the task at hand. The Challenge activity content is an editable Google doc, along with Check Your Understanding questions, so that you and your students can have a shared understanding of the goal of the game.

Additionally, each Lesson concludes with a Wrap Up Reflection where students engage in self-assessment to reflect on their progress and learning during the Lesson.

To learn more about implementing a V5 Learn Practice Compete STEM Lab, view this article.

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

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