ROBOTC for Vex (vs. EasyC)

I have been approached to teach a Vex class this summer using ROBOTC, but I have never used ROBOTC in any capacity (I’m comfortable with EasyC for Vex, but have never programmed in any other version of C). The problem is that I have to make a decision before I’m allowed to play with the software (“IF you agree to teach the class, THEN we’ll install the software.”) Most of the students will have no prior programming or robotics experience, as the level of technowledge in our community is very low - “computer” classes at the community college are mostly applications, with VBasic and assembly the only programming courses offered.

If you have used ROBOTC, and especially if you can compare it to EasyC for Vex, I would appreciate any commentary, as there are many questions I don’t know enough about to ask. I do, however have a few questions:

  1. Is ROBOTC icon-based or text based? In other words, will students have to struggle with syntax and semi-colons?

  2. Do you think using ROBOTC as a first computer language is realistic? I would definitely have to teach some basic programming concepts like branching and loops separately.

  3. What do you think a realistic age for this class would be? The college wants middle school-aged students, but I’m thinking high school or above.

  4. I have the option of offering the class using r/c only, and I’m wondering whether concentrating on mechanics alone might be a better use of time, given the short duration of the course (4 days for 3 hrs/day).

  1. Text based

  2. Possibly, however, as ROBOTC does use C syntax and treats variables the same manner C does, it could be quite complicated. You’d have to teach the basics of C here.

  3. Depends on the student - I would definitely say middle school is fine.

  4. RC only is probably my recommendation - you don’t have the time to focus on the programming elements.

I found the free trial version and curriculum preview here:
http://www.robotc.net/content/vex_over/vex_over.html#

It looks better than I feared.:o

Just so you have something to compare it to.
Here is a demo of Intelitek’s Robotics Engineering Curriculum.

http://www.intelitekdownloads.com/REC/