Neighborhood Robotics

 

We know how much time and effort it is to run a robotics team.  We are here to help reduce that effort by providing you with as much information as we can to help you and your team be as successful as possible.  Click on the link for your competition of interest to get to the resources.

There are two main robotics organizations here in New Jersey;  VEX and First.  Both have competitions for kids starting in 3rd grade through highschool.  We have found 3rd graders are too young and STRONGLY suggest no younger than 4th grade.  First also offers Jr. FLL for k-3, however, this is not a competition but a guided excercise for parents and children.  The following is a brief overview of the main competitions to help you with chosing which one may be right for your child or group of children.

4th - 8th Grade Competitions

VEX IQ  vs First Lego League (FLL)

FLL is really a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) competition which is comprised of both a robotics competition and a STEM project. This is a fantastic competition for kids who may not be completely fascinated by robots or melding kids who are robotics centric with those that really enjoy science projects. The FLL robot challenge has more to do with solving, often ingeniously, a multitude of tasks all autonomously.  For the kids that are really into robotics, our experience has shown that they don't like the project at all. 

VEX IQ is strictly a robotics competition. VEX IQ was developed by VEX as a training platform for VEX.  With 12 motor and sensor ports at the kids’ disposal, robots can be created with complex drive systems and manipulators/arms with multiple degrees of freedom. Another exciting difference between the two is VEX IQ has a remote control.  This provides a whole new world of programming for the kids who now need to program all of the sensors on the remote control telling the robot what to do. VEX IQ robotics competitions have the emphasis on manipulation of objects.  We also like Modkit, the graphical user interface for VEX IQ better than FLL, which uses NXTG. Modkit maintains standard programming constructs in a simple easy to use interface based on MIT’s Scratch. When kids move up from Modkit to RobotC, they already know the standard programming constructs and the transition will be much easier for them. This provides us with a more integrated, seamless transition as the kids go from beginning robotics through advanced.

High School Competitions 

VEX vs First Tech Challenge (FTC)

VEX is a closed architecture.  This means that only VEX parts can be used to create a competition robot.  This provides a real structure for the kids as they learn a much more complex robot.  FTC is far more open allowing kids to use off the shelf parts to build and design there robots.  This can be quite intimidating for a beginning team.  Also the games are more dynamic for VEX vs FTC whereas FTC tends to require much finer control of robots.