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Learning Robot Programming Anywhere: VEXcode VR (Other)

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

PCEE Session 3: Robotics and Design Competitions

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Paper Authors


Arif Sirinterlikci Robert Morris University

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Arif Sirinterlikci is a university professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering at Robert Morris University. His teaching and research interests lie in manufacturing engineering, specifically in industrial automation and robotics, CAD/CAE/CAM, 3D scanning and printing, medical manufacturing, and entertainment technology. In addition, he has recently developed courses in different areas of Industry 4.0 including Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Mixed Reality (MR) for Industry.

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Jason McKenna VEX Robotics


Yuhan Lin

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Yuhan Lin is a doctoral student in the Technology, Learning and Leadership PhD program at the University of Maryland’s College of Education. He got his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, double majoring in Mathematics and Mathematics Education. He also has a master’s from University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in Learning Science and Technology. As a lifelong programmer, he holds a firm belief in the importance of computer programming education. His recent work involves creating a taxonomy for block-based programming environments. His research focuses on exploring ways to bridge the gap between block-based and text-based programming and using physical computing as a means to support computer science programming education.

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Raina Oravec

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Raina Oravec is an Educational Analyst at VEX Robotics. She graduated from Chatham University with a Bachelor of Arts in Policy Studies with a focus in after school education development. Throughout college Raina worked with a small private school to bring more hands-on approaches to STEM education for K-8 students. Previously, Raina worked in STEM education, user data analytics and as a Customer Relations Management developer for high education.

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Lauren Harter VEX Robotics

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Lauren Harter is a Senior Educational Developer at VEX Robotics and has a wide range of experience in education. From teaching in the high school setting to developing materials that teachers use in numerous countries, Lauren’s experiences have shaped her contributions to the educational community.

Lauren received a double bachelors in Mathematics and Secondary Mathematics Education from Duquesne University in 2016. Shortly after, she began teaching high school mathematics at Serra Catholic High. For two years, she taught 9-12th grade Algebra I, Algebra II, Trigonometry, and Calculus to a wide range of students.

Lauren is nearing the end of her Doctoral studies and is conducting research in teaching practices that promote conceptual understanding in mathematics and teacher quality.

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This paper focuses on VEXcode VR, a programming environment for educational robotics without the need for the physical presence of robots. VEXcode VR is based on the VEXcode programming language, which is powered by Scratch Blocks. Besides the graphical programming of virtual robots, the users can also employ text-based Python programming interface, and a combination of both. The programs generated contain similar commands as those used with VEX 123, GO, IQ, and V5 robots, thus making VEXcode VR a supplement to instruction with physical robots. VEXcode VR can be easily and freely accessed through a web browser, making robot programming accessible to a large population of students, teachers, and mentors. At the center of the programming environment are the surroundings, called playgrounds, a variety of scenes including a grid map, an art canvas, and a walled maze. Pre-built 4-wheeled robotic rovers are programmed to complete challenges which are categorized as sensor, movement, geometry, algorithm, or advanced types. These challenges include tasks like robot movements, picking and placing of objects, detecting color and location of lines as the robots navigate a maze, cross numbers of a grid path, or collect trash at the Mangrove coral reef. The virtual robots are equipped with drive trains, sensors, pen features, and an electromagnetic end-effector to manipulate the objects within the environment. Location and orientation of the robot as well as the status of its sensors are available in a dashboard interface during the execution of programs. VEX Robotics education experts created an educator certification program, curriculum, and easy to follow activities which are also available in Google Docs, thus teachers can add to or edit these activities. In addition, various efforts were made to present this environment to the educational community including webinars by the company and summer workshops by one of its educational partners. This paper concludes with the details of these efforts including an ONLINE workshop conducted during the pandemic. The structure and feedback from these efforts as well as their future are also included in the conclusions.

Sirinterlikci, A., & McKenna, J., & Lin, Y., & Oravec, R., & Harter, L. (2022, August), Learning Robot Programming Anywhere: VEXcode VR (Other) Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41259

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