Tag Archives: robotics

Adding VEX IQ to your Robotics Curriculum

VEX IQ Robotics Curriculum

VEX IQ is now part of our robotics curriculum.

VEX IQ Modkit Interface

VEX IQ Modkit Interface for Mac.


As part of our robotics education expansion to include all Pre K-8 grades, we wanted to add VEX to the robotics curriculum. After attending VEX workshops at ISTE and speaking with their staff, we chose VEX IQ to start with. We decided on IQ mainly because we are an Apple School, and it was our first experience with VEX. We purchased a classroom bundle of 12 kits, and the latest competition course for a new robotics elective I created for our middle school.

There are two native programming environments for VEX IQ, ROBOTC and Modkit. Only the Modkit is cross platform, and being an Apple school, that helped sway our decision toward VEX IQ. Modkit is also available as an iPad App, which is convenient for our BYOD and 1:1 iPad program. There is also an excellent third party web based interface option, Robot Mesh Studio.

VEX is committed to education, offering a free, standards matched curriculum. Additionally, VEX has partnered with The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and Project Lead The Way (PLTW). VEX even provides a robotics camp handbook.

While my students enjoyed working with the VEX IQ kits, they really became excited about the competition course. VEX has created an excellent robotics competition community through their Robotics Education & Competition Foundation. While these competitions have only been around a few years, they have really caught on and are well organized and attended. The resources that they provide are comprehensive.

VEX OS Utility

Easy to use VEX OS Utility for firmware updates

My middle school elective was the first to use the kits, and even the students without any robotics experience were successful. I have since introduced the VEX IQ to some experienced lower school roboteers very successfully. The pictorial directions, posters with actual size part guidelines, and easy to do firmware updates, make these kits very student friendly.

My vision now is to add the VEX EDR for middle school next year now that they have some experience, and use the IQ for lower school robotics classes. I highly recommend adding VEX to your robotics curriculum. The products and customer service are excellent!


Inexpensive Makerspace Projects

Some of my most favorite projects to do in the Makerspace are also the most inexpensive. These projects are great for developing creativity through repurposing and upcycling. Teaching students to source items that may otherwise end up in the trash is a great service to education and the environment!

These two projects are also great introductions to robotics without the need for expensive kits or components!

Toothbrush Battle Bots:

Materials needed:

  • Toothbrush new or used (free or cheap)
  • 3 Volt Cellphone micro vibration motor (Amazon.com approx.$1-2)
  • 3 Volt coin cell battery CR2032 (Amazon approx. 50 cents each)
  • Double sided tape

Cut the head off of the toothbrush. The amount of the handle left will affect movement, so have fun experimenting! There is a good clue in the video!


  1. Use double sided tape to attach the micro vibration motor to the tooth brush.
  2. Use another piece of double sided tape to attach battery to motor.
  3. Connect one of the motor wires to the bottom of the battery being careful to make sure it has a good connection.
  4. Tape the other wire to the top of the battery to complete the connection.
  5. Experiment with different toothbrush shapes and motor positioning.
Toothbrush Battle Bot Components

Toothbrush Battle Bot Components

Toothbrush Battle Bots

Toothbrush Battle Bot


Yogurt Cup Robots


  • Empty yogurt cup
  • 3 pencils or dowels. You may also use markers to make an artist bot.
  • 3V DC  Toy Motor (Amazon.com $2-3)
  • Dual AA Battery Holder (Amazon.com $1-2)
  • 2 AA Batteries
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Hot Glue Sticks


  1. Attach the 3 pencils or dowels to the inside of the yogurt cup evenly spaced (or not!) to make a tripod.
  2. Hot glue the battery holder to one side of the yogurt cup.
  3. Hot glue the motor to the other side of the cup with the motor shaft over the edge of the cup.
  4. Place a 1″ piece of hot glue stick offset on the motor shaft.
  5. Connect the wires to the terminals on the motor.
yogurt cup robot

Yogurt Cup Robot Components

Yogurt cup robot

Yogurt cup robot