VEX Robotics Equipment and ROBOTC Software Transition
The Equipment Platform
PLTW is excited to announce its relationship with VEX Robotics, which will give PLTW schools new, exciting and cutting-edge opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. VEX® Robotics’ equipment is a high quality platform with broad functionality that allows students to create more innovative solutions to problems. Not only will students use the equipment during the school day when everyone can participate, PLTW schools will also have the ability to take part in the VEX® Robotics Competition, the largest and fastest growing middle and high school robotics competition in the world. These competitions allow students to apply their robotics knowledge from the classroom in a unique, problem-solving environment. The transition to the VEX® platform will also have a tremendous impact on equipment delivery for schools. The Texas-based company has a robust fulfillment and customer service operation that will deliver equipment to schools promptly and efficiently. For more information regarding VEX® Robotics, please read the December 2010 press release.
PLTW students had the opportunity to work with the VEX® platform at the 2010 Innovation Summit. Check out our online photo gallery from the event.
The Software Platform
Another critical key to the VEX® Robotics platform transition is the adoption of a more comprehensive programming software. PLTW is pleased to announce its new collaboration with Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy, a research based, world leader in educational robotics that prides itself on providing high-quality, education-friendly software and curricular solutions. The Robotics Academy supports the ROBOTC® programming language and has developed a scaffolded learning continuum that is widely recognized as one of the world’s best solutions to introduce students to programming, an important skill set for students. ROBOTC® software provides students with an industry standard development environment which has been optimized for education. In addition to this high quality programming tool, the Robotics Academy will also provide the PLTW network with an exceptional range of support resources based on educational and industry research and best practice.
To ensure a smooth transition, PLTW will be introducing the VEX® platform in two phases. The first phase of this transition is to integrate the VEX® platform into our current curriculum. The second phase of the transition will focus on exploring new and exciting opportunities for our students to create innovative solutions to open-ended projects and problems through the additional functionality of the VEX® platform. This phased process will allow the PLTW network the opportunity to transition to the VEX® platform at its own pace throughout a multiyear process, with a consistent focus on the students’ educational experience. PLTW recognizes that existing schools have invested in fischertechnik (FT) equipment, which is one of the reasons we are taking this phased transition approach, detailed here.
PHASE 1: THE NEXT 3 ACADEMIC YEARS (THROUGH 2013-2014)
End of Course Assessment
PHASE 2: 2014-2015 AND 2015-2016 ACADEMIC YEARS
End of Course Assessment
Frequently Asked Questions - VEX® Equipment
Which PLTW course offerings will use VEX® kits?
PLTW, in partnership with VEX Robotics, has created new course-specific VEX® kits that replace the previously used FT kits:
If I am already trained in a particular PLTW course, will I have to attend another training prior to implementing the curriculum using the VEX® platform?
As outlined in the timeline above, online training will be available, at no cost, to assist all previously trained teachers as they transition from the FT to VEX® platform. This will follow the same format and protocol used for all Ongoing Training for PLTW Course updates – including the AE Course update. The online training needed for those wishing to transition to the VEX® platform for the 2011-2012 academic year will be available no later than June 2011. All teachers will be notified through the course forums when training becomes available.
Frequently Asked Questions - ROBOTC® Software
What are the benefits of the ROBOTC® software?
ROBOTC® programming software allows students to quickly and intuitively explore and gain understanding of computer programming through a scaffolded learning experience utilizing its Natural Language programming environment. The programming environment provides the user with simple, predefined drag and drop phrases (e.g., startMotor, stopMotor, and wait) that can be directly inserted into a process outline. This approach to programming ultimately provides an experience designed to facilitate programming confidence and to provide a smooth transition to traditional C programming. Students that use ROBOTC® programming are learning key components of industry standard programming languages that are useful in higher education and professional applications.
Another benefit of ROBOTC® is the vast collection of instructional resources and sample programs currently available. Combined with the related PLTW curriculum materials produced by PLTW in conjunction with the Robotics Academy, both teachers and students will enjoy an ever-growing library of resources.
Is ROBOTC® C-based programming?
ROBOTC® does use a C-based source code editor in lieu of a generic text editor. If you’re not a C programmer, don’t worry – aside from a few similar naming conventions, ROBOTC®’s user-friendly interface creates an environment where middle school and high school students can flourish while using a simplified version of the C-based industry standard programming language. The programming environment provides the user with simple, predefined drag and drop phrases (e.g., startMotor, stopMotor, and wait) that can be directly inserted into a process outline.
Where ROBOTC® really stands out is in the programming environment. ROBOTC®’s integrated development environment (IDE) uses Natural Language, a programming component which allows students to drag and drop functions and variables to create their program, as well as a real-time syntax checking and compiling feature. It has an extremely interactive debugger, allowing users to step line by line through the program and analyze the values of all variables and interpret real time states of all motors and sensors.
What is the difference between ROBOTC® and RoboPro?
ROBOTC® is the programming language required for PLTW VEX® kits. RoboPro is the programming language required for PLTW fischertechnik (FT) kits.
Which PLTW courses use ROBOTC®?
ROBOTC® is the PLTW adopted and supported programming software used with the VEX® platform and is used in the following courses:
Please Note: ROBOTC® is only used with the VEX® equipment platform. PLTW schools that continue to use the fischertechnik (FT) equipment must continue to use the RoboPro programming software until they transition to the VEX® platform.
What is the cost of ROBOTC® software?
ROBOTC® software is included in the annual Participation Fee. This will be a network license that will enable up to 100 computers within a school site to use ROBOTC® software simultaneously.
How do I order ROBOTC®?
All schools must currently place an order for a ROBOTC® license by completing the Software License Information Page located on the Program Support page.
Upon submitting the information requested to PLTW, your designated contact will receive an email providing software download and installation instructions directly from ROBOTC®. Please provide up to three weeks for this process.
Please Note: There is no purchase order required for this order form.
How many seats do I get with the ROBOTC® annual license?
ROBOTC® is distributed to PLTW schools as a Building License. The Building License allows the school to use the software on the school’s network and within the school’s campus, and allows up to 100 students in the school to use the software simultaneously.
If a school district has multiple schools using ROBOTC® software, then the school district will need to order a Building License for each school. This does not apply to schools which have multiple buildings within the school campus as long as no more than 100 computers are simultaneously using the software.
How do I download ROBOTC® software?
See “How do I order ROBOTC® software”.
How do I obtain support for ROBOTC®?
We urge all teachers to become active participants on the ROBOTC® forum located on the PLTW Virtual Academy. This is a beneficial, searchable resource where teachers can pose questions and find answers to common questions. If you are unable to find an answer to your question on the forum, please utilize the following resources.
What are the computer specifications for ROBOTC®?
ROBOTC® requires basic system specifications to run properly. The programming environment is not processor intensive; however, the interactive debugger may slow down computer performance on older machines. Please see the ROBOTC® recommended system requirements identified below:
Please Note: The ROBOTC® computer specifications are significantly less than those required by PLTW as outlined in our Purchasing Manual Appendix, Computer Specifications.
Will ROBOTC® training be available?
ROBOTC® training will be incorporated into PLTW Core Training course offerings where necessary beginning this summer. PLTW curriculum-related online training will be available through the PLTW Virtual Academy on July 15, 2011, at no cost to assist all teachers as they transition from the FT to VEX® platform. ROBOTC® training resources are currently available at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy.
If you have additional questions, please contact our School Support Team by email or phone:
[email protected] or 877-335-PLTW (7589).