The 5 Pillars of VEX are the five types of support provided to help you implement VEX with your students. The 5 Pillars of VEX are Curriculum, Professional Development, VEXcode, Competition, and the Knowledge Base. These resources can be used together in ways that fit your needs, in both formal and informal educational settings, to give you exactly the kind of support you need to teach STEM with VEX in your learning environment.

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This article will cover:


Curriculum

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Whether you are teaching Educational Robotics every day, teaching a weekly STEM Class, or offering a robotics summer camp for a few days, VEX has free instructional materials for you. VEX curriculum options include in-depth STEM Labs — plug-in curriculum units that provide easy-to-follow lessons built around a unit theme with real-world applications, and Activities — shorter projects and investigations that students can complete with their VEX materials. Activities are student-facing so students can work independently and are perfect to use in conjunction with STEM Labs or as a learning center resource. VEX curriculum materials are designed to be used in a variety of ways to provide you with options to pick and choose the teaching resources that fit your needs and student interests.

In addition to curriculum materials, VEX provides all the implementation tools that you need to facilitate STEM Labs or Activities with your students. The Teacher Resource page for each platform in the VEX Continuum contains pacing guides, standards alignment, and other documents to help you plan and organize your lessons. Teaching support is also built into each STEM Lab which provides information and facilitation strategies that you can access quickly and easily. Go to education.vex.com for more information and to access free curriculum materials for every platform in the VEX Continuum.


Professional Development

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VEX not only provides the instructional tools you need but also provides training with our free Educator Certification Program. VEX offers free Educator Certification courses for each platform that are online, allowing you to work at your own pace. These courses track your progress and save the place where you left off, giving you the freedom to work when you want, based on your schedule. There are formative assessments throughout each course so you can check your understanding and feel confident with the material as you prepare for the Certification Exam.

Once you pass the Certification Exam, you can share your certificate to showcase your learning and demonstrate to other educators that you understand the fundamentals of using and implementing VEX Robotics. Certification courses also track your hours, so you can submit them for Professional Development credits. For more information and to access the VEX Certification Program go to certifications.vex.com.


VEXcode

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VEXcode is the coding environment that is used to code your robots in VEX. VEXcode meets students at their level and grows with them as their coding proficiency grows. The intuitive layout of VEXcode allows students to get started quickly and easily, and the interface is consistent through all VEX platforms. As students progress from elementary, middle, and high school, they don’t have to learn a new interface. The way you create, save, and share a project is the same across all platforms. The layout of the built-in resources such as the Help Feature, Tutorial Videos, and Example Projects are also the same across all platforms so that you do not have to reteach how to use these resources. Teaching can focus on the big ideas in Computer Science, while students focus on creating with technology, not trying to navigate a new coding environment.

VEXcode’s Block-based interface is intuitive and accessible for those new to coding. Students use a simple drag and drop interface to create functioning projects that get their robot up and running quickly. Once students are ready to transition from Block-based to Text-based coding, they can use the built-in tools in VEXcode to guide them. Students can also create Text-based projects and build their code in C++ and Python. VEXcode has a low barrier of entry and a high ceiling for the possibilities of what you can do with it. You can find more information on the VEXcode Overview page.


Competitions

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At VEX we are proud to host the world’s largest in-person educational robotics competition and the world’s largest virtual robotics competition where thousands of students participate each year. Competitions drive the excitement and enthusiasm that we want our students to have for STEM. Competitions provide opportunities to implement STEM in both Schools and in informal education settings increasing access and opportunities for students to participate in STEM activities.

Competitions foster collaborative problem solving where students bring their skillset together with their team to cooperate in order to compete. Through competitions, students form authentic collaborations and take ownership of their learning as they design and build their own robots and prepare to compete. It is their robot and their game strategy. You can find more information on competitions at vex.competitions.com.


Knowledge Base

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The Knowledge Base is an online library of everything VEX with over 700 articles that provide information to help you implement VEX in your learning environment. Articles cover a wide variety of topics ranging from targeted step-by-step guides to help you set up and use VEX materials such as how to build a drivetrain for your IQ robot or pair your robot with VEXcode — to more complex articles on teaching strategies and the research that drives our curriculum.

The Knowledge Base is organized by platform and subject so that you can find information while you are working with students. We want to make sure that you have everything you need to implement any of the VEX Platforms. Access the Knowledge Base at help.vex.com.

Each of the 5 Pillars of VEX — Curriculum, Professional Development, VEXcode, Competitions, and the Knowledge Base represents a type of support that you have at your fingertips across the VEX Continuum to help you feel confident and empowered as you teach STEM with the VEX.

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