Leveraging the VEX Curriculum to Boost Math Instruction
Post-pandemic, students across the United States are struggling with math. Integrating math concepts with robotics increases engagement and helps students understand ways math applies to real life. The VEX curriculum helps teach or reinforce math concepts in ways that are meaningful to students.
A recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment—commonly called the “Nation’s Report Card”—examined student achievement in mathematics during the Covid-19 pandemic. The results showed the largest-ever decline in average math scores, with a significant drop from pre-pandemic levels. NAEP noted that students in the lower-performing levels showed the largest rates of decline, likely linked to students’ access to resources during the pandemic.
Lost learning can have ongoing effects on students’ later success and opportunities, and school districts have begun to build strategies to mitigate the ongoing effects of the pandemic learning loss. Teachers are looking for ways to increase students’ engagement in math, and tie what they’re learning to real-world scenarios that make math hands-on, visual, and fun—particularly for younger students. As described by VEX Director of Instructional Technology Lauren Harter in a recent paper, “Teaching the M in STEM with Robotics,” robotics attracts students’ attention and helps them learn STEM concepts in ways that simplify otherwise abstract concepts.
VEX STEM Labs and Activities teach math concepts in authentic and scaffolded ways that can improve students’ understanding of real-world problems. Visit education.vex.com for VEX curricular resources to teach or reinforce math concepts in your classroom at any grade level, and research.vex.com to learn more about the research-based instructional strategies and approaches used in VEX products and solutions. Visit this article to learn more about how VEX Robotics supports teaching mathematical thinking, beginning with the earliest learners.
New PDF Storybook Adds Context to VEX GO Mars Math STEM Lab
Written diary-style by the character “Colonel Jo,” the Mars Math Expedition storybook gives context to the tasks students’ take on in the VEX GO Mars Math STEM Lab. Full-color illustrations feature Colonel Jo and his robot assistant, “Hero,” as they complete training, data collection, robot maintenance, and other missions at Mars Base.
Your students can follow along as Colonel Jo and Hero work together to navigate the Martian terrain, collect surface samples, respond to emergencies, make needed repairs, manage constraints, and celebrate success. Each beautifully depicted task in the book matches a segment of the Mars Math STEM Lab and competition, providing a fun way to introduce and connect with upcoming lessons and activities.
VRC Virtual Skills Added to VEXcode VR
VEXcode VR was recently updated with expanded content and searchability. Users can now play VRC Tipping Point and VRC Spin Up with virtual hero bots in new Premium Playgrounds!
VRC Premium Playgrounds for Spin Up and Tipping Point are now available in VEXcode VR Premium, along with an assortment of activities and example projects for each Playground. Code a virtual Disco robot to intake discs, score in the high and low goal, spin rollers, and navigate with the GPS sensor in Spin Up! Code a virtual Moby robot to intake and score rings, move mobile goals, balance on a platform, and navigate with the GPS sensor in Tipping Point! VIQC Playgrounds are coming soon. Note that the game versions available in VEXcode VR will not allow users to submit scores to the REC Foundation Virtual Skills Standings.
Improved filter options built into the list of VEXcode VR Activities make it easier than ever to find the content you’re looking for. Filter by a wide range of categories, including algorithms, math, and variables. Limit your search by your version of VR. Look for activities in a specific difficulty level. See which activities are designed for your favorite VEXcode VR Playground. Each activity also clearly identifies the corresponding CSTA standards!
Visit vexrobotics.com/vr for additional VEXcode VR product information, including version comparisons and current discount offers.
Workcell Curriculum Expanded to Include Capstone Project
The V5 Workcell curriculum was just expanded to give students the experience of a robotics competition, right in their classroom! Student engineers will design their own Workcell factories to complete an immersive challenge faster than their peers.
The new Workcell Lab 13: Capstone Project takes students beyond build instructions and applies the skills and knowledge they’ve developed throughout all 12 STEM Labs and the Workcell Extensions to a classroom competition. Students use the engineering design process as they plan, build, and code a solution to move and sort 36 randomly-dispensed disks from the start zone to the correct colored end zones in the fastest possible time. Students will be awarded points for sorting disks quickly and correctly. The team with the most points at the end wins!
The VEX V5 Workcell introduces students to the world of industrial robotics. It’s small enough to place on a classroom desk, but packs a 5-axis robot arm, conveyors, sensors, and more into that small footprint. Students gain technical skills, work on problem solving and collaboration, and gain readiness for careers in the manufacturing workforce.
The accompanying STEM Labs introduce concepts including manual and programmed arm movements, conveyor systems, transporting and dropping off objects, and safety. Workcell builds start with the basics, and grow in complexity as students’ mechanical and coding skills increase. The newly added STEM Lab 13: Capstone Project, asks students to combine all of the concepts and skills from Labs 1-12 and the Workcell Extensions into a unique solution to a classroom competition challenge.
The V5 Workcell Educator Certification Course will be expanded in the coming weeks to include the Workcell Extensions and the Capstone Project. The certification course presents the fundamentals of industrial robotics, and prepares teachers to integrate the V5 Workcell into their classrooms or educational settings.
Visit teachCTE.vex.com to learn more about the V5 Workcell and the accompanying curriculum.
The New teachVR.vex.com is Your Hub for VEXcode VR Resources
Curious about VEXcode VR, and wondering how you can use it to teach computer science in a fun and engaging way? The page teachVR.vex.com is your portal to a range of curriculum, teacher supports, & pacing guides that will prepare you to integrate VEXcode VR into your learning environment.
Visit teachVR.vex.com to explore curricular resources, support materials, and related research. Read other educators’ stories about blending VEXcode VR into their teaching, and see some ways VEXcode VR can engage students in effective robotics and computer science learning.
VEXcode VR can be used as a primary way to teach coding and computer science concepts, or to supplement students’ work with physical robots. Whether you’re using VEXcode VR, VEXcode VR Enhanced, or VEXcode VR Premium, teachVR.vex.com has the information you need—all at one easy-to-remember link.
Looking for a single link that you can share for curated access to VEX content on almost any topic? Head over to shortcuts.vex.com and check it out!
VEX Robotics a Game Changer at the CSforALL Summit
VEX Robotics and other industry leaders gathered in October at the 2022 CSforALL Summit to share, learn, and celebrate inclusivity in computer science. The summit’s theme, “Game Changers in CS,” highlighted strategies for equity, removing barriers to access, and building meaningful engagement for all students.
Jason McKenna, VEX Robotics Director of Educational Strategy, was featured in a panel discussion about diversity in CS education, the purpose of CS education, research into best practices, and funding priorities. Summit attendees explored the question of what idea, policy, event, or individual could significantly shift the CSforALL movement forward to ensure that computer science becomes an equitable, integral, and sustainable part of the K-12 experience for all students.
Visit live.csforall.org to view archived streams from the CSforALL 2022 main stage, and recordings of breakout sessions.
The VEX Continuum is STEM for Everyone!
See how teachers are using the VEX Continuum to support their schools’ STEM learning goals:
Inspiring to see the passion young people have when explaining their engineering notebooks and robot mechanisms @VEXRobotics Last two competitions in South Australia to qualify to the Australian Nationals #omgrobots Sign up to judge: https://t.co/qmtqR5zF9F pic.twitter.com/JRKpFUu1Zz— Emil Zankov (@ezankov) October 23, 2022