Top 5 Robotics Competitions For Kids
Science and technology are growing at an exponential rate in today's world. Why is that? Science and technology make our life easy. From commuting by train to our office to building intelligent AI robots and software to solve complex real-world problems, science and technology play a crucial part in the ongoing reality of every human on Earth.
Classroom education is not enough, in today’s world. Sure, children can learn the concepts, but what about real-world functionality, testing, and execution? It is necessary to have a dedicated place to apply them.
This is where the competitions and Olympiads come into the picture. Exposing your children to science, technology, and engineering at a young age will help them develop life skills such as logical thinking, problem-solving skills, team building, communication, and confidence.
In the upcoming sections, we’ll see the top 5 robotics competitions for kids to help them realize their best future.
Best 5 Robotics Competitions For Kids:
1. B.E.S.T Robotics Design Competition:
BEST, also known as Boosting Engineering Science and Technology, is a nationwide robotics competition held every fall in the United States. The main objective is to expose children (usually middle schoolers to high schoolers) to engineering to have an idea of what they are going to do in college.
The competition runs for six weeks, and children can have the opportunity to meet different people and learn from each other. It is considered the best robotics competition in the United States.
Within that six-week time frame, the competition is about students having to design and build a robot that can perform specific actions during the competition day within a fixed time frame. Students from around the nation compete with each other for the championship title. On the winning title, there is also a possibility of getting a scholarship for higher studies. Thus, this competition is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring students.
2. VEX IQ Challenge:
Next on the list is VEX IQ challenge, presented by Robotics Education and Competition Foundation. It is mainly for elementary and middle school students to provide the best environment to learn and enhance their knowledge in STEM education (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) through a real-time competition experience. The other objective is to develop social skills such as team building, problem-solving, and project management to prepare children to become the best innovators, creators, and leaders in the future. The main advantage of participating in this competition is team building.
VEX IQ allows small teams so that students in the team can perform various actions, face challenges together, and overcome those challenges. Here, students usually design robots in professional software such as Autodesk Fusion 360, which provides them with a lot of legroom to play around and design the best possible robot. For the software side, usually, students go for block coding.
There are some steps to enter the final stage of the championship. The first step is the regional qualifiers that usually happen in late October/early November to mid-February. The next step is the state championship, which happens in late February. The final step is the world championship at the end of April.
3. WRO- World Robot Olympiad:
WRO- World Robot Olympiad's motto is to educate children about STEM education. WRO is an independent non-profit organization focusing on 8- to 19-year-olds. However, the competition will be conducted in four categories so that elementary students do not have to worry about competing with middle schoolers.
The categories are Robomission, Robosport, Future Innovators, and Future Engineers. These are based on building block robots, and students can choose their own choice of technology, meaning they can choose the software of their choice. You have to check their website for the hardware part to get more details since the details vary according to the type of the competition and time of the competition.
The Lawrence Technological University presents Robofest in Michigan. Students in grades 5-8 compete in the Junior division, and grades 9-12 can participate in the Senior division and there are even college divisions for college students.
The great thing about Robofest is that there are no restrictions on either hardware or software. Students can use any hardware to build robots and any software to program the robot. This gives a lot of freedom for the students to plan their budget for the competition.
The student's team can comprise 5 members, and they can take part in various events such as Games (full autonomous robots and complete robotics missions), Exhibition Matches (no competition, students can show off their work), Robomed (medical robots competition), and VCC (Vision Centric Challenge: a high-level category only for high school students).
MakeX is the last on the list but certainly not the least. It is considered one of the all-round robotics competitions for students. There are five categories in the MakeX competition. MakeX Spark is suitable for students aged 6-13.
The main focus of Spark is innovation. The competition consists of online and in-person events, and contestants are free to choose any hardware and software. This competition helps students to develop their project management skills and critical thinking.
Next is MakeX Starter. Starter focuses on "zero-carbon", suitable for students aged 6-13. MakeX Explorer focuses on aggressive competition, ideal for students aged 8-15. This competition involves designing and assembling the robots from scratch, which helps students to develop comprehensive abilities in assembling and programming.
MakeX Challenge focuses on energy-related projects best-suited for middle school and vocational students aged between 11-18. It involves confrontational competition where students compete with each other to build big robots and program them. The main difference between traditional competition and the MakeX Challenge is that the competition focuses on being more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
The last category is MakeX Premier. Imagine the competition as an open challenge, and students above 14 years of age can compete in this competition. The designs, assemblies, and programming of the robots can be chosen freely, meaning students can choose their own hardware and software. It is the biggest competition out of all categories.
NOTE: The categories change for every season. The above information is for the year 2022.
Advantages of Robotics Competitions:
- STEM Education– To build and assemble robots is difficult, especially for kids. Students have to work together, plan and execute strategies, and solve complex problems.
- Collaboration– All these robotics competitions are about having fun and meeting new robotics enthusiasts. Students grouped under such a coalition will certainly learn from each other.
- Exposure to Different Cultures– People worldwide take part in these competitions. Not all children love sports and other outdoor activities. These competitions act as a non-traditional activity for students to accomplish something great. They work together and learn the values of being leaders, cooperation among the team, emotional regulation, and how to tackle difficult problems. Different students think differently, and considering every team member's input will help the kids become the best team players.
- Scholarship Opportunity– Almost every competition has some form of scholarship opportunity. STEM education prepares students for their future, and for that hard work, a scholarship is just the right prize. It makes college finance easy, and they can focus on their studies.
How do I prepare my child for this??
Robotics competitions are fierce, and your child will need to develop a considerable amount of knowledge and training in assembling and programming the robots. Botzeetoys is the best place to learn robotics assembly and block coding for programming. With more than 120 rounded blocks, kids can learn the complex assembly of robots of their choice. Once they have done the assembly, they can use the block coding technique (which can be implemented using the Botzeetoys app) to program the robot to perform specific tasks. Once they master the assembly and programming, they can show off their abilities in a robotics competition and learn even more about science and robotic technologies.
What is the biggest competition in robotics?
With more than 20,000 members from 50 countries with 1700 competitions worldwide, VEX Robotics World Championship is the most significant championship for robotics.
How to register for the robotics competitions?
Parents or Guardians can register on behalf of their kids to participate in the competition. For more details on the specific competition or categories in the competition, it is recommended to check the official website, per our links for each, above.
Which approach is better for programming a robot?
There are two approaches: The traditional text-based approach and the block-coding approach. Block-coding is best for beginners and kids to learn about robotics; once they master that, they can start their programming journey through text-based coding. A traditional text-based approach is the best way to program a robot since you have more ways to approach a problem, through more complex and specific programming. For the competition, learning through block coding is faster since competitions are time-sensitive.
In this article, we have seen all the best robotics competitions and how you can prepare your kids for that stage. These competitions are the best way for your kids to learn more about STEM education and other social skills. It is recommended to expose your children at a young age to Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics to widen their horizons and maximize their future potential.