Archive for the ‘FTC’ Category

Competing for the Future: Developing a Life-Long Interest in STEM, Part II

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Well designed competitions engage students in a range of activities, address academically challenging concepts, and teach important 21st century skills. But, these benefits don’t have to be limited to organized competitions. You can also get all of the benefits of a competition, right in your classroom!

Last week, Part I of our Competing for the Future blog talked about using virtual competitions, like our VEX Nothing But Net and VEX IQ Bank Shot Robot Virtual World Competitions, as a way for your team to compete virtually. This week, we explore how you can use virtual competitions in your classroom to provide a unique and challenging learning experience for all students!

RVW's VEX Nothing But Net

RVW’s VEX Nothing But Net

Step 1: Choose your competition type (simulation or fantasy)

The first step is to choose the type of competition you’d like to use in your classroom. Do you want to use a simulated competition, like the ones that they use in FIRST or the RECF competitions, do you want your competition to take place in a fantasy environment (underwater, outer space, on an island), or do you want to create your own competition?

Are you using LEGO or VEX?

LEGO and VEX are the two most widely used robotics competition platforms and there are great reasons to use both. The Robot Virtual Worlds team has a large selection of LEGO and VEX competitions for you to choose from:

RVW's LEGO Urban Challenge

RVW’s LEGO Urban Challenge

You can download each of these games from the Robot Virtual Worlds Download Center.

Palm Island Game

Palm Island Game

Another option is to use one of the Robot Virtual Worlds fantasy worlds. These worlds are more playful and have specific goals built into them. You can choose from:

  • Palm Island – Designed to teach and reinforce introductory and intermediate programming concepts involving sensor based robot movements.
  • Operation Reset – Programmers are assigned to recharge all of the Communication Towers in the colony of Alpha Base H99, a robotic crystal mining colony near the galactic center of the Milky Way.
  • Ruins of Atlantis – Designed to teach and reinforce introductory programming concepts such as path planning and encoder based movements.
Level Builder

Level Builder

Or, you can create your own competition using the Robot Virtual Worlds Level Builder and Model Importer. With an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface, the Level Builder makes it as easy to create a virtual challenge as it is to create a physical challenge out of classroom materials. The Level Builder provides a 12’x12′ square field on which to design your competition. It also provides several objects – from cans and boxes to line tracking tiles – that you can use to design challenging, unique, and fun competitions!

Model Importer

Model Importer

The Robot Virtual Worlds Level Builder also comes with a Model Importer that allows you to create and import your own 3D models! With the model importer, you can also modify objects to make them an unmovable object, a perilous obstacle, or a necessary checkpoint.

Step 2: Determine the rules of your competition

Regardless of whether you create your own competition or use an existing Robot Virtual World, the rules and structure of your competition will allow you to customize the experience for your class, or even for individual students. (This can also be something you discuss with your students and determine together.)

Here are a few things to consider:

  • When will the competition start?
  • Is this an individual competition, or can students work in teams?
  • What type of documentation do you want students to turn in?
    • Does the code need to be commented?
    • Do the programmers need to show pseudocode?
    • Do the programmers need to explain their use of variables and functions?
  • When does the competition end?
  • What does it take to win the competition?

Step 3: Get Ready

Once the rules are set, there are just a few more things to take care of before the competition starts:

  1. Start by installing Robot Virtual Worlds on all students’ machines. Visit our Download Center to get the latest version.
  2. If you’re using one of our Robot Virtual Worlds, such as Palm Island, Ruins of Atlantis, or Operation Reset, make sure you’ve installed that on the students’ machines as well. Visit our Download Center for the latest version of each Robot Virtual World.
  3. Make sure all students understand the competition rules
  4. Get ready to rumble and have fun! 

Need a Few Ideas for Using a Competition in Your Classroom?

With the ability to use an existing Robot Virtual World or create your own challenges, the options for in-class competitions are endless. Here are a few competition ideas if you need a little help deciding what to do:

  • Create a competition using the Palm Island Robot Virtual World by assigning points to the completion of certain tasks.
  • Create a competition that requires students to use a loop and the light/color sensor in a line tracking competition where students need to program their robots to follow a line as fast as possible. Here’s a Teachers POV blog post about the benefits of using this type of competition in your classroom, whether it’s with physical or virtual robots.
  • Robo-Slalom! Use the use the Robot Virtual Worlds Level Builder and Model Importer to create a slalom course that students must complete by programming a robot that can move along the outside of each flag. The robot’s path must prevent it from touching any flag, and allow it to cross the finish line as fast as possible.
  • You can also use a game like VEX IQ Beltway to create an in-class competition.
  • Here’s a Teacher POV blog post about how one teacher created a competition that challenged students to apply the basics of ROBOTC programming while also asking them to come up with unique strategies to try to score as many points as possible in a 2 minute game.

Written by LeeAnn Baronett

October 22nd, 2015 at 6:00 am

iCarnegie Merges with Robomatter

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iCarnegie and Robomatter, two STEM Education solution providers, founded by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, have merged to form a global Computer Science and STEM education solutions company. The mission of the new company is to make research-based STEM educational solutions accessible to every global classroom. The company’s vision is for all students to be technologically literate and computationally proficient as innovators competing in a global emerging economy.

workingTogetheriCarnegie and Robomatter have been partners in developing STEM education solutions for over 4 years, and the combined organization creates a uniquely differentiated company to meet the growing, global demand for high quality STEM education products. Our products will be a combination of our unique brands and attention to quality STEM teaching methods, rigorous curricula, certification, and educational technology to drive change in the globalized STEM classroom. Our classroom programs provide educators and students with a range of resources to accelerate STEM learning–from programmable technology, robot activity and virtual environments to pedagogic methodology, assessment tools and certification programs.

Click here to read more about this merger and the future goals of our new company here!

Written by Cara Friez

July 1st, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Best #ROBOTC Twitter Posts – 3rd Edition

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We LOVE getting Twitter posts sent to us about ROBOTC. In the last few months, you have shared even more great posts and pictures with us. We decided to make a THIRD compilation of some of our favorites so you can check out some of the cool projects going on …

Do you have a ROBOTC picture/video/post you would like to share with us on Twitter? If so, include #ROBOTC or @ROBOTC in your message.

Written by Cara Friez

June 18th, 2015 at 12:34 pm

The Robotics Summer of Learning is Back!

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SOL Coming Soon

We are proud to announce the return of our Robotics Summer of Learning program! This summer, students have the opportunity to learn how to program robots, earn a programming certificate and badges, and play with cool software for FREE! We will provide all of the software and training materials at no cost to you or your students.  The course will consist of three modules: movement, sensing, and program flow and will be taught using the Robot Virtual World software.

The Robotics Summer of Learning starts June 15th, register here and we’ll send you a reminder when it opens up!

A Teacher’s POV Blog Series

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Teacher POVWe’ve had some wonderful teachers share their stories with us this year about their experience in the classroom teaching robotics. Read their stories here in our Teacher’s POV blog series.

Here are a few recent posts:

– International School Manila
– Palisades Middle School Robotics Initiative
– RVW VEX IQ Beltway
– First Year Teaching Automation and Robotics

Do you have a story to share about implementing STEM into your classroom, a cool project you did with your students/team, or advice about teaching robotics? If so, send us an email at and be a guest blogger for us. We would love to share your stories on our blog!


Written by Cara Friez

June 10th, 2015 at 11:34 am

LEGO Users: Program Virtual Robots Without Downloading Anything New!

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Have You Explored New Worlds with ROBOTC?

ROBOTC has provided you with many challenges and learning opportunities, but did you know you can explore exciting new virtual worlds without downloading anything new? Try out Robot Virtual Worlds for FREE in ROBOTC with a 10-day trial!

See the instructions to get started at the bottom of this email!

What are Robot Virtual Worlds?

Robot Virtual Worlds are high-end simulation environments that enables users, without robots, to learn programming with game and competition worlds. Watch our video for more information!

Game Worlds!

Escape to one of our fantastic game worlds where you can use your programming skills to explore and complete challenges!

Ruins of Atlantis

We thought Atlantis was a myth. We were wrong. Your mission is to explore the Ruins of Atlantis, 6,000 meters below the surface of the ocean, collecting data and treasure as you do.

Palm Island Luau Edition

Visit the beautiful Palm Island and program your robot to drive along its boardwalk path. Collect coconut clusters and set lobster traps for the Luau.

Operation Reset

The mining colony of Alpha Base H99 needs your help! A terrible storm has damaged the colony’s equipment and we need you to use your programming skills to complete the mission.

Virtual Challenges!

Practice your programming skills with virtual versions of popular robotic competitions or challenging obstacle courses.

Curriculum Companion

Practice valuable programming concepts with a variety of activities using the curriculum companion. Use the same ROBOTC code to program your real and virtual robots!

Level Builder

The RVW Level Builder provides a 12’x12′ square field to build on and several objects – from cans and boxes to line tracking tiles – that you can use to design challenging, unique, and fun levels!

Measurement Toolkit

Not sure how far to make your robot move? Use the virtual measurement tools to calculate the distance and angles needed to move around in the virtual worlds!

Getting Started

Starting your Virtual Worlds trial:

1.  Open ROBOTC (from the icon on your desktop or Start Menu).

2.  Click “Help”
in the menu and select “Manage Licenses”.

3.  Click “Add License” in the menu and select “Robot Virtual Worlds – LEGO” from the Product drop-down.

  Click “Start Trial”.

5.  Click “Close”.

Using Virtual Worlds:

1.  Click “Robot” in the menu and set the “Compiler Target” to “Virtual Worlds”.

2.  Click “Window” in the menu and set “Select a Virtual World to Use” to any of the virtual worlds installed.

Visit to explore and download more levels!

If you need to go back to programming your physical robot, select “Physical Robot” from the “Compiler Target” menu.


Written by Cara Friez

June 9th, 2015 at 9:41 am

Do you have a Cool ROBOTC Project??

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Cool Projects 2

The end of the school year is here and to celebrate, we’d love to showcase some of the ROBOTC projects and code you’ve been working on all year long! If you have a cool project (like these!) send us an email at with a description and your code, pictures, and/or videos. We’ll share it on our blog in an upcoming post!

Written by Cara Friez

June 4th, 2015 at 6:00 am

Summer Teacher Trainings are Filling Up Quickly!

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Our on-site (in Pittsburgh, PA) and online Summer Professional Development classes for VEX CORTEX, VEX IQ, and LEGO MINDSTORMS are filling up quickly. Register today to make sure you get into your preferred course (listed below!)

Highlights of the Robotics Academy Training:

  • Acquire new skills with technology and new ways to teach STEM with robotics using innovative pedagogy!
  • No Prior Experience with Robotics or Programming required!
  • Hands-On Experience with 36 Contact Hours!
  • Learn directly from the curriculum and technology developers!


Here’s What People Are Saying After Our Trainings:

“You guys were fantastic! This was some of the most enjoyable and informative professional development I’ve ever attended. The instructor was incredibly knowledgeable and always willing to offer help when needed. I would recommend the Robotics Academy to any teacher that is wanting to get into robotics education.”

“I thought that just about every aspect of the sessions was valuable. As a person coming in with an almost zero knowledge base, I left feeling I had a strong sense of how things work and how I can immediately implement things in my classroom.”

“Instructors were great … this stands as one of the most enjoyable workshops/courses I have taken in a VERY long time. I learned a lot, I had a good time, I was challenged … what course could hope for a better outcome than this.”


Find out more at CMU Robotics Academy Professional Development!



On-Site Classes:

July 6 – 10, 2015
July 27 – 31, 2015

June 22 – 26, 2015
July 13 – 17, 2015

Online Classes:

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX CORTEX
June 22 – 26, 2015
Monday-Friday for 1 week
3 – 5pm EDT (12 – 3pm PDT)

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX IQ
Jul 6 – 10, 2015
Monday-Friday for 1 week
3 – 5pm EDT (12 – 3pm PDT)



On-Site Classes:

June 29 – July 3, 2015
July 20- 24, 2015

Online Classes:

ROBOTC Online Training for LEGO
Jul 13 – 17, 2015
Monday-Friday for 1 week
3 – 5pm EDT (12 – 3pm PDT)

Written by Cara Friez

May 8th, 2015 at 5:30 am

Pittsburgh Area – May Madness Info!

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DSC_0221We are excited to announce the Sarah Heinz House May Madness event for 2015! This year’s event will take place Saturday, May 2 at the Sarah Heinz House in Pittsburgh, PA.

This Year’s Game:

We will be using the VEX IQ Highrise game. Both VEX IQ and LEGO robots can compete! We will have claw bots of VEX IQ for you to use to compete if you wish! You can sign up for Remote control or Autonomous. The games will be scored separately.

Other games will include:

  1. A grand challenge like game where students will not know the programming or building components until they arrive. They will then have to program and build to complete the challenge. Each student, or group of students, that completes this challenge will be winners of this competition.  You should know how to do things such as forward, turn, backwards, line follow.
  2. Pick up the most VEX Highrise game cubes at once.
    Must be able to start with the blocks on the ground and then raise them into the air.
  3. IMG_2271A robot Parade where the robot must be able to follow the line, must be able to stop when it gets close to the float in front of it.
  4. Robot Virtual Worlds – Beltway competition where you will play a modified version of the VEX Highrise game.
  5. Lego Competition which will use the VEX IQ Highrise game elements.
  6. VEX CORTEX (EDR) Competition where we will be hosting a VEX Skyrise scrimmage for teams who wish to try out VEX Skyrise in a competitive setting. We must have at least 8 teams sign up to have this competition!

DSC_0248Cost of Registration

The cost will be $20 per team. With this twenty dollars we will give you vex highrise cubes.

The first 25 teams who register will be guaranteed a spot in May Madness. If you are registering more than one team then they will be placed in a waiting list.

To sign up and for more info, visit the Sarah Heinz House’s May Madness page!



Getting Started with ROBOTC Graphical for EV3!

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EV3 ROBOTCAre you interested in learning how to program in ROBOTC Graphical for LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 or EV3 Robot Virtual Worlds? If so, then this YouTube playlist is for you! This set of videos will help you to get started programming with ROBOTC.


These videos are part of the Introduction to Programming EV3 Curriculum. To continue further with our free online training, visit our curriculum page here!

Written by Cara Friez

March 20th, 2015 at 6:30 am