Teaching a Robotics Class

My FRC team just completed our second year of FIRST and now this program is starting to explode in our community and school. I have been approved by our school board to teach robotics as a class within the school day and wondering if anyone out there has any recommendations.

I am trying to gather information for curriculum and see what other schools are doing and maybe get some tips as to what to order etc. Also it would be nice to see how I could apply this class to FRC.

I am thinking about ordering up some VEX robotic kits or Tetrix kits. Any recommendations and or grants out there? This class is being taught at the senior high level and I would like to not use Lego Robotics.

Any help would be greatly Appreciated.
Thanks for a great FRC season

Team #4166

For what its worth, I took a college class titled “Autonomous Robotics”. We used the HandyBoard from MIT to control everything, along with small motors and various sensors (IR LED emitter/receiver, visible light sensors, limit switches, etc), and we used LEGO’s for structure/assembly. it was a great class, and having it done with LEGO’s didn’t impede the ability to do real engineering, instead, it made it possible to build something complex very quickly without requiring any machining.

Hi Jalmos,
I work for VEX Robotics, and we’ve got some pretty cool offerings you might like.

Specifically, check out our Classoom & Competition Kits:

It sounds like your program could do a cool robotics class utilizing competition inside the school (or as part of the larger VEX Robotics Competition program) as a feeder to your FRC program.

Take a look at the free online curriculum we offer:
This curriculum was written to walk students through the process of building a competition robot – it includes details about analyzing a game, following a design process, and building a robot. It also includes lots of “core” information along the way (i.e. DC motor design, gear ratios, manipulator design, etc) which is applicable to any number of robotics design projects.

The process outlined in that curriculum is one which can be used successfully on an FRC team as well, which is why this could be such a successful feeder program.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with our folks support@vexrobotics.com or 903.453.0802 – they’ll be happy to talk to you about it.

Take Care,

Thanks for the quick reply and I have been though the Vex site, which I found very Helpful.

I have two sections of 26 students signed up which means a big cost for a start up of an entire VEX class.

Does vex provide any first time buyers discounts on startup kits? We are looking at purchasing several thousand dollars worth? When I call the VEX number directly it didn’t sound like they had many deals or discounts and with the amount we need it would be nice to get a kit or two at a cheaper price to try out before a big order is placed.

Thanks again for all your time and help.

Mora High School
FRC #4166

I’m wondering what your reason(s) for not using a LEGO robotics system is. My family teaches some robotics classes with the LEGO Mindstorms system and it works great. Now, I’m not trying to persuade you into using something else than what you want, but I urge you to at least consider a LEGO system. I also agree with Jon above that LEGO does not diminish engineering. It’s easy to change, adjust and reuse, as well as being relitively inexpensive. If you have any questions about it I can go into further detail (I have around 8-9 years experience with the Mindstorms system). Finally, I’d like to point out that this summer LEGO is releasing a 3rd generation of Mindstorms, called the EV3. Quite advanced compared to the previous, the NXT. I’d suggest checking it out.


My robotics class is competition based, with a Mindstorms/Tetrix platform. I taught it once, and did partial autonomous and partial RC… I think next year I’m going with all autonomous, all the time!

Team 537 teaches a summer school program using VEX robots each year. I will talk find out at our meeting tonight if they have the curriculum in a format that I can post easily.

I’ve been teaching a robotics class using the Lego NXT program for about 5 years now. Before that I used the original mindstorms kits. I suppliment the class using the cRio and my FIRST test benches. My students work in groups of 3 or 4 and build 4 competition based lego robots a semester and 1 special/advanced project.

One thing that is really nice about the Lego NXT stuff is that you can very quickly prototype a number of different designs. The kids have to do the same problem solving that they would do with any other materials, and the lead in time is kept to a minimum so that you can get to the meat of the course relatively quickly. I am sure the VEX program would also work out for you.

My students also use the BIOLOID by robotis (coupled with the ARBOTIX by vidadium labs) for more advanced python based projects.

I wish you the best of luck with whatever you choose, and hope you find this helpful.


Thanks for all the posts. Much appreciated.

GRT is based off of a engineering and technology course that has been going longer then the team has been around. We have 2 sections and students must be in the class to be on the team. In the fall we teach machine shop, auto cad, electrical, pneumatic’s, design theory, and project management. The veterans on the team under supervision teach much of the course. This allows them to learn teaching skills and allows us to accomplish a lot in a short time. To further cement the material the students have 2 design challenges that in groups they design and build machines to accomplish a specific task. The major project is then to design in groups sections of a robotic haunted house. This is done in a short time with elementary students and they have to coordinate with pneumatic’s, programming, and other groups so it all fits together. During this time people choose what groups they want to be in and also start to specialize. After build we have more engineering projects for them to work on and design for new gear box’s start at this time. Students can also start other special projects. We then have more management training at this time. This course was started by Bill Dunbar and continued by Ms Granlund-Moyer. We feel it works for us. This allows us to have 54 machinists and 54 designers to design and build our robot.