Running an IQ STEM Lab Challenge

Each VEX IQ STEM Lab Unit Lesson contains a Compete section, in which students participate in a challenge to apply their learning from the lesson in a mini game setting. Organizing your classroom to support these challenges can help students make the most of their learning, and ensure that you and your students have a shared understanding of what to expect.

This article will cover:

Organizing your space for the challenge

You can prepare your classroom for the challenge lesson by designating areas of the room for groups to practice, to meet and make changes to their robot, and to compete in the mini game. An example layout of a classroom space could include two practice spaces and two challenge Fields, with desks grouped together in the center of the classroom as team meeting spaces to separate the areas. You will need to determine what works best for your setting, based on your space constraints and the needs of your students.


In this example, the flow of the space could be something like:

  • Students come into the classroom and take a challenge activity sheet from the bulletin board, and look for when and where their first challenge match will be, then join their group in the meeting space. The teacher begins class by the leaderboard, to get the lesson started, then circulates around the room.
  • Students practice for the challenge, and make any evidence-based iterations to their robot to prepare for the challenge.
  • The teacher announces the first set of matches, and those groups move to the challenge fields.
  • At the end of the match, the groups that competed clear and reset the challenge fields, and update the leaderboard, then return to the meeting and/or practice spaces.
  • The teacher announces the next groups to be ready, and can continue to circulate around the classroom as students are practicing and competing.

Creating a challenge match schedule

Challenges can move more smoothly if you and your students know when they are expected to be ready to compete. For instance, if the challenge is a 1 minute long match, you will need to allow time for setup and clean up, so that students can navigate the classroom space easily. So setting up a schedule that allows for roughly 5 minutes per match, should account for student movement, setup and cleanup.

Students can keep score or be the ‘referee’ during the challenge, which is helpful if you have more than one challenge field. Designating a student to be in that role ahead of time will keep things running smoothly. That student can then be responsible for updating the Leaderboard after the challenge match is completed. The following is an example challenge schedule for one round, including a scorekeeper and two challenge Fields.


You will want to have multiple rounds of the competition so that students can iterate with their team between matches, so establishing a time table will help you plan your class time to allow for a successful challenge class.