Success For All Students

VEX 123 STEM Labs focus on 3 foundational values to ensure the success of all students:

Engage Students

  • Promote Active Learning
  • Take Computer Science off of the Screen
  • Student Voice & Choice via the Choice Board

Teach for Understanding

  • Organized Around Essential Questions
  • Learning Goals Aligned to Instruction
  • Specific, Measurable and Observable Learning Goals

Research-Based Methods

  • Spatial Reasoning for STEM Success
  • Students Demonstrate Competency
  • Making a Personal Connection to Learning


VEX 123 STEM Labs Engage Students

  • VEX 123 STEM Labs promote active learning.
  • Hands-on activities are immediately introduced.
  • VEX 123 STEM Lab Units offer students a voice and choice via the Choice Board.

VEX 123 STEM Labs Promote Active Learning


With VEX 123 STEM Labs, students have fun while being active participants in their learning as they explore different STEM topics.

VEX 123 STEM Labs are broken up into three sections:

  • Engage
  • Play
  • Share

Each section contains active learning that encourages students to explore, test, and collaborate.

Take Computer Science off the Screen


Each VEX 123 STEM Lab starts with a personal connection to the theme of the Lab in the Engage section. VEX 123 can then take Computer Science off the screen for young students. Students don’t have to worry about typing or using a mouse. Teachers don’t have to worry about using devices or teaching in a computer lab.

In the Play sections, students have the opportunity to use the Coder and/or the 123 robot make computer science and active, not passive, process.
Students are encouraged to participate in reflective discussions or demonstrate their projects in the Share section.

Choice Board


Each Unit contains a Choice Board, which can be used to help differentiate instruction while also fostering student voice and choice in their learning.

Choice Board activities can be done at any point in the VEX 123 STEM Lab. Students are able to become active participants in their learning as they use the Choice Board.

VEX 123 STEM Labs Teach for Understanding

  • VEX 123 STEM Labs are organized around Essential Questions.
  • Learning Goals are aligned to instruction.
  • Learning Goals are specific, measurable and observable.

Essential Questions & Understandings


Each VEX 123 STEM Lab Unit is designed around Essential Questions and Unit Understandings.
Essential Questions:

  • Stimulate thought
  • Provoke inquiry
  • Guide student learning

Unit Understandings:

  • Connect to the Essential Questions
  • Explain the main theme of the Unit.

Student inquiry drives the lesson, allowing teachers to be coaches of understandings, instead of a supplier of facts.

Learning Goals


Each VEX 123 STEM Lab begins with student goals to indicate to the teacher what the students will be learning by the end of the Lab. These can help to frame the Lab as it is implemented in the classroom.

  • Apply: How will students apply new skills or knowledge in the Lab?
  • Make Meaning Of: These align with the Unit Essential Question. What is the conceptual meaning of this Lab?
  • Be Skilled At: What specific activities will students be familiar with at the end of this Lab?
  • Know: What big picture concepts are being addressed in this Lab?



VEX 123 STEM Lab learning objectives are specific, measurable, and observable. Each objective and assessment is aligned to Lab activities.

  • Objectives show what the students are learning.
  • Activities are what students are doing in the Lab to practice those skills.
  • Assessments are how the students demonstrate the knowledge of their skills.

VEX 123 STEM Labs Use Research-Based Strategies

  • Spatial reasoning as a predictor for STEM success
  • Applying spatial reasoning with VEX 123 STEM Labs
  • Opportunity to demonstrate student competency
  • Making a personal connection to learning

Spatial Reasoning


Spatial reasoning involves the the capacity to understand, reason, and remember how objects and space relate to one another. Students use their spatial reasoning skills as they create mental images of imagined and real shapes, objects and structures.

Why teach spatial reasoning?

  • Spatial reasoning is an important predictor of achievement in STEM careers
  • Increased achievement in math and science
  • Promote skills and interest in future careers in STEM disciplines

VEX 123 STEM Lab instruction provides scaffolding for teachers to encourage Spatial Reasoning and facilitate discussions that introduce Spatial Language.

Applying Spatial Reasoning


VEX 123 STEM Labs provide opportunities for students to practice spatial reasoning skills through guided and informal discussions.

Examples of opportunities to practice spatial reasoning skills:

  • Mentally map how a 123 Robot should move.
  • Using directional words as they use VEXcode 123 or Coder cards.
  • Using gestures as they communicate plans for the 123 Robot with their group.

Prompts are provided in the Applying VEX 123 section of the Unit Overview, and in the Play sections of each Lab.

Students Demonstrate Their Learning


Students enjoy solving problems!

VEX 123 STEM Labs are designed to have clear criteria for success and provide students with immediate feedback so they can succeed.

Discussions in the Mid-Play Break and Share sections of each Lab also provide an opportunity to students to demonstrate their learning.

Making a Personal Connection


How do we get students to focus and think about the information that is in the lesson or activity Encourage students to make a personal connection!

At the beginning of each VEX 123 STEM Lab, the teacher is guided to introduce the Lab while making a personal connection between the students and the main concepts.

Students continue to make personal connections with VEX 123 STEM Lab activities with discussion prompts in the Play and Share sections of each Lab.

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

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