We know the official maximum age or grade/year level that a student can compete in VEX IQ robotics challenge from the official game manual. New Zealand students that are in year 9 when the season starts at the end of April or the beginning of May can participate and complete the season, even though they might be in year 10 when the season ends with the World Championships.

However there is no minimum age, so I bought a VEX IQ Super Kit for my grandson, when he turned 4 on Christmas Day. Over the last week my grandson and I have been building the Armbot IQ, which has highlighted some of the difficulties younger robot enthusiasts might struggle with:

  • physical ability
    in the same way that primary students struggled with nuts and bolts of the VEX EDR robots, preschool children lack the strength to push the connector pins into the beams. My grandson managed to push some gears onto shafts, but that was all the strength he could muster in his little fingers
  • ability to follow instructions
    in order to follow the instructions, one has to be able to understand the procedural documentation. My 4 year old grandson was able to

    • understand how many pieces were needed,
    • find the correct parts and compare them on the Contents Poster (with a bit of help),
    • see that the green dots were the locations that connections needed to be made, and was almost able to transfer this to the physical connection.
    • turn the assembled parts in the same orientation as the instructional drawing
  • concentration
    starting something new is always very exciting, but being to maintain the level of interest is quite hard for young people especially since progress is slow, and we live in an age of immediate gratification. However my grandson was able to assist with the building for periods of 30-60 minutes at a time. This meant we needed about 5 sessions to complete the Armbot IQ, and yes, I did complete a few steps without his assistance.

But at the end the main thing is to have a robot you can control. My grandson is very good with the controls and picks them up very easily.

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