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Let the STEM games begin

Observe a child in a sandbox tinkering and playing, experimenting and creating. That is the spirit of a scientist.

3 min read


This post is sponsored by Vex Robotics

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education is essential to the well-being of the environment, our health, security, and economic competitiveness. 

Today’s students need the tools and knowledge to solve the global challenges they’ll inherit. Yet, with employment in STEM occupations growing by 79% in the past three decades (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) the number of students pursuing STEM degrees doesn’t match the forecasted demand for STEM professionals

There is no better way to inspire students and create a culture of motivation than tapping into the healthy, competitive spirit. Constructive competition can encourage scientific inquiry and push innovation and exploration to new heights. 

That is where a VEX Robotics Competition can be beneficial. Students are natural scientists and engineers, although they may not recognize it in those terms. Scientists try to apply rules to a general phenomena. Engineers work with constraints to develop products. Scientists question — engineers create. 

Both sides of this coin are important to exercise through the interactive problem-solving fun of robotics competitions. Compelling programs such as VEX robotics — both in and out of the classroom — can become an effective and positive motivator to help STEM be more engaging for all students. 

Benefits don’t stop at improved attitudes toward STEM, as a parent of recent VEX competitor noted. “Working with robots in a competition involves collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking—life skills that will take them further in anything they do.” 

Encouraging productive competition in the STEM classroom

At its core, robotics competition is an exercise of problem-solving and solution-finding. Each venture into the greater world of STEM and robotics challenges is a learning experience allowing teams to grow stronger. VEX Robotics Competitions take classroom STEM learning and combine it with hands-on applications. 

The Super Bowl of robotics competitions is the VEX Robotics World Championship, the largest robotics competition in the world. Held in the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, this is an international event that impresses at every level. More than 20,000 students from 36 countries come to Dallas this year to compete. 

It takes thousands of small steps to reach a world stage like this. That is where educators are vital in cultivating the motivation needed to spark curiosity and inspire students to strive to excel. 

These competitions expand learners’ minds as innovators and inventors and engage empathy as they offer each other feedback. Learners become stronger decision-makers through the materials they use and the time they allot for each task. The competitive environment is one of natural encouragement and support, where failure is not seen as a negative. Instead, it is an understood part of the process.

Impressively, 95% of those who participated in a recent Vex Robotics competition reported an increased interest in STEM subject areas and pursuing STEM-related careers. 

Student Grace Meyer from Team 3547H sums it up best. “We all face challenges, but we love robotics because our greatest challenge can become our greatest success story,” she said.

VEX Robotics is the global leader in STEM education, offering the VEX continuum to help students of all abilities find success quickly and also grow their STEM knowledge and competencies. Learn more about how we empower educators to engage and inspire the STEM innovators and problem-solvers of today and tomorrow.