With STEM education front and centre, there is a growing focus on the importance of teaching students to innovate, think critically and problem solve. VEX Robotics is honing in on this need with its engaging hands-on solutions that encourage collaborative student-centred learning.
Demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals is expected to grow significantly in coming years, so encouraging more students to pursue and gain a greater interest in STEM-related subjects and fields is an ongoing challenge.
The study of robotics inherently relates to all facets of STEM, and when students learn through exploration, it increases motivation and the desire to succeed. VEX embraces this model of explorative STEM learning, allowing students to create something exciting using a combination of technology and their own hands. By providing the right tools, students are given the chance to problem-solve in a fun and imaginative way.
VEX was founded over 10 years ago by two engineers, who continue to run the business today. It has grown to have offices in nine countries across the world, including the Australian arm, which was launched three years ago. To date, VEX products are being used in over 60 countries, 22,000+ schools and by more than 1 million students.
Teachers can use VEX to achieve a variety of educational outcomes. VEX provides access to free curriculum that has been matched to leading educational standards so that teachers can build lessons around key educational outcomes. This gives teachers everywhere the opportunity to adapt VEX for their classroom or incorporate it into afterschool activities.
The business offers two separate platforms: VEX IQ for primary students and VEX EDR for secondary students.
VEX IQ aims to peak a child’s mind and encourage an interest in STEM early on. During these formative years, VEX hopes to instil a lifelong interest in STEM by providing a fun, engaging and hands-on opportunity for students to explore and experience it for themselves.
A snap-together robotics system, VEX IQ has been designed from the ground up to cater to all skill levels. By packaging advanced concepts into an accessible package, the system encourages teamwork, problem solving and leadership. Each kit includes graphical step-by-step build instructions to help students build their first robot. These kits are also structured around the VEX IQ Curriculum to ensure seamless integration into a STEM classroom.
In the secondary years, VEX EDR allows students to continue to grow and develop their interest in STEM and robotics, moving up from the plastic snap-together components of VEX IQ to a nuts and bolts solution. Driven by cutting-edge technology, VEX EDR robots can also bring code to life when programmed using a software solution like VEXcode which is available on all platforms including Windows, Mac, Ipad and Chromebook.
To facilitate the teaching of VEX IQ and VEX EDR, the business provides Online Teacher Certification with access to an online community upon completion, training and STEM Labs which are educational lesson plans tied in with programming software VEXcode. These free online curriculum lesson plans provide content and support for in-classroom delivery. Each STEM Lab contains hands-on lessons with guided explorations that encourage teamwork and collaboration.
As VEX has an Australian office, the business is accessible, affordable and sustainable, supplying the market with over 1500 parts.
VEX also offers robotics as a sport and is a two-time Guinness World Record holder for the ‘World’s largest robotics competition’, hosting local, national and international championships.
In these competitions, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. Tournaments are held all year-round and culminate in the VEX Robotics World Championship each April.
During the World Championship, held next year in Louisville, Kentucky in the United States, VEX launches its Game Reveal for the upcoming season. The Australian competition season kicks off soon after, each May. From May through to December, students build, code and compete at local scrimmages and tournaments. The Australian VEX Robotics National Tournament is then held in December, with around 60 VIQC and 60 VRC teams competing.
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