VEX Monthly Newsletter – February 2022

Report – Effective Teacher Professional Development

In schools, teacher quality matters most for increasing student achievement. Therefore, teacher training and professional development is very important. This has resulted in initiatives like the Gates Foundation spending over 500 million dollars to redesign teacher professional development. Unfortunately, that, and many other initiatives, have failed. A recent report highlights a new framework for teacher professional development. It begins by identifying, according to a meta-analysis of the research, four practices that teacher professional development should achieve:

  • Insight about teaching and learning
  • Motivate teachers to adopt changes to their practice
  • Provide practical techniques to implement those changes 
  • Explain and show teachers how to embed those techniques into their daily teaching

Next, the report highlights how to achieve those four goals. For the first practice, insight about teaching and learning, the paper emphasizes the importance of managing the amount of information shared with teachers. In other words, focus on a few, targeted insights. The challenge there is finding insights that are tailored to the teacher – insights for a 2nd grade teacher will be much different than insights for an 11th grade teacher. This is why VEX Professional Development Plus (PD+) is designed to be individualized and ongoing for teachers. VEX PD+ can also help motivate teachers, provide practical techniques, and show teachers how to embed techniques into their daily teaching through the professional learning community and the brand new online courses.  

Source: Effective teacher professional development: new theory and a meta-analytic test

Learn more about VEX Professional Development Plus

Web-based VEXcode EXP

VEXcode EXP is now available in a web-based version for Chrome browsers. The web-based version can be reached by navigating to and contains all of the features and functionality of VEXcode EXP, but without the need to download or install anything! The new web-based version of VEXcode makes it easier for teachers and students to access projects from anywhere, at any time, on any device – including Chromebooks!

In addition to the built-in Help and Tutorials, the STEM Library contains additional resources and support for using web-based VEXcode EXP. Within the STEM Library you can find device-specific articles for connecting to web-based VEXcode EXP, loading and saving projects, updating firmware, and more. View the VEXcode EXP section of the STEM Library to learn more.

Web-based versions of VEXcode IQ and VEXcode V5 are in the works and will be available soon.

Live Courses are Coming to PD+ in March

March will see the first series of professional development live courses on VEX Professional Development Plus (PD+). In these flipped classroom style courses, participants will engage with course materials at their own pace during the week, then come together for a weekly hour-long live session to discuss their learning with VEX Experts and educators. 

All courses and their content are included with a PD+ subscription. Course topics will expand over time, and offer educators and mentors a great opportunity to learn practical teaching strategies that they can apply in their own setting right away. Not a PD+ member yet? You can preview the course content with a 3-Day Trial.

February Webinars Focus on Entry Points to the VEX Continuum

The VEX K-16 Continuum brings STEM principles to life with engaging hands-on and minds-on experiences that engage all students. February’s webinars, about Inspiring STEM Learning with VEX 123 and VEX GO, focused on the elementary end of the VEX Continuum to shine a light on how VEX 123 and VEX GO can bring STEM learning to life for young students. 

During each webinar, Jason McKenna, VEX’s Director of Global Education Strategy, talked about the impetus for engaging in hands-on, minds-on STEM learning with students in the elementary years. Through lively demonstrations and interviews with educators currently teaching with VEX 123 and VEX GO, the webinars brought each platform to life for viewers. Jason answered frequently asked questions as well about everything from group sizes to build instructions to coding resources. You can view the recordings of each webinar at, as well as register for upcoming webinars. 

Future webinars will include a closer look at the VEX 123 curricular resources, and teaching Computer Science with VEX.

Engineering Week Brings Interviews with Real World Engineers to PD+

Lauren Harter, Senior Education Developer interviews Dr. Rika Carlsen

In honor of Engineering Week 2022, five new engineering focused videos were added to PD+, featuring interviews with engineers in various fields. These interviews offer insight into the real-world applications and career possibilities in engineering across a wide range of fields. Get a glimpse of this year’s featured engineers:

  • Dr. Rika Carlsen – A biomedical and mechanical engineer and professor 
  • Dr. Arif Sirinterlikci – A manufacturing engineer and professor 
  • Dr. Jameela Al-Jaroodi – A computer scientist and software engineering professor 
  • Dr. Maria Kalevich – Dean of the School of Engineering, Math, and Science (SEMS) and Chief Innovation Officer for Robert Morris University
  • Alan West – Entrepreneur at Life Sciences Greenhouse and member of the Board of Visitors for SEMS at Robert Morris University 

View these videos in the PD+ Video library, and share them with your students to spark discussion on how they can see themselves pursuing STEM careers in the future.

Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Have you seen the new Women in Science video shared for International Day of Women in Science yet? In this video, some of VEX’s own women in science share insights about their experiences and the importance of representation in science and STEM fields. View the conversation here, and share it with your students and school community to continue the conversation in your setting.

The VEX Continuum in the Classroom

Look at what some of our VEX educators have been doing this month across the continuum:

Want to Learn More?

Contact VEX today about how to bring STEM and Computer Science to your entire district: [email protected]