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13th Annual Robotics Design Challenge – 2018

This is a FREE event open to any elementary or middle school student group

Robotics Design Challenge is an event for K-8 youth, where they build LEGO-robots with a variety of sensors, and program them to accomplish a given task. The Challenge has been hosted annually since 2006 by the Center staff, in collaboration with K-12 teachers, 4-H and other community organizations. The goal is to introduce STEM skills at a an early age, and to motivate them to pursue science and engineering careers.

Youth from different schools and organizations throughout Missouri participate in the Challenge. In addition to building and programming LEGO robots, they also learn about different sensors (e.g., light sensor used to track the black line). This gives them an exposure to how such sensors are used in real world devices (for example: light sensor used in the cars), and how they can be integrated and programmed into systems to accomplish useful tasks.

Youth participating in Robotics Design Challenge, testing their program to trace the given route

In the Challenge, each participating team is given a route/path that their LEGO robot has to follow. Each team is given 10 mins time to test their program and are given points for the task. Whichever team accomplishes the task in short time and accurately will receive more points. A set of judges interview each team and give them an opportunity to talk about how they collaborated to accomplish that task, including programming. The youth are explicitly told that the event is not a competition, and that learning in a team environment was the emphasis. Parents have appreciated this ‘stress-free’ learning for youth.

The Challenge is announced about 3 months prior to the event, providing the youth with a goal-oriented timeline. Our experience is that the youth have an enriching experience involving building, programming/debugging, and iterating on designs, and gain opportunities to learn about teamwork and communication skills.