RS Components has joined up with educational robotics systems provider VEX Robotics to launch its latest STEM initiative for eight to 16-year olds.
The online challenge tasks students with writing code to facilitate a virtual robot to provide ingredients to a production line in a virtual crisp factory. The virtual robot needs students to code its movement, and sensors to assist it in navigating around the factory floor and to collect and release containers for the ingredients to produce the crisps.
The coding task is executed via VEXcode VR, using a simple block-based programming environment powered by Scratch or a Python text-based interface. VEXcode VR is a web-based portal, no installation is required, and it will run on all major desktops, Chromebook and tablet browsers.
The challenge is split into three categories: primary school students (aged 8 to 11); lower secondary school students (aged 11 to 14, in years 7-9); upper secondary school students (aged 14 to 16, in years 10-11).
Winners will be chosen by judges from both companies who will evaluate the most efficient and creative code employed in the challenge. One winner in each age category will receive a VEX Robotics off-road truck, a remote-controlled vehicle kit that is assembled from over 820 parts and, once complete, can be controlled using the VEX Pilot app. The runner-up of each category will receive a VEX robotics gear racer kit, which allows the user to experiment with how different gear ratios affect the speed and acceleration of a rubber band-powered car.
“Coding is a creative process and a key engineering skill that we must nurture for continued innovation in technology,” commented Laura Giddings, STEM education manager at RS. “This online educational challenge with VEX Robotics is designed to encourage young minds to explore coding in a fun, safe and engaging way, and to reward them with a sense of achievement in the learning process.”
“For over a decade, VEX Robotics has helped students to develop skills in design, engineering and coding through competitive robotics,” said Chris Calver, UK education manager at VEX Robotics. “Now, with VEXcode VR, teachers can continue to use robotics concepts to teach computing and coding, even when it is not possible to be using physical robots. These skills in programming, testing and debugging are easily transferable, not only to physical robots but also to all other areas of computer science.”