VEX GO Camps

Theme: Mission to Mars (Grades 4 - 5)


For more details, click here.


Mission to Mars

Resources from

Detailed Plans (link to Google Doc):

Day 1

Intro to Bilding (labs 1-3)

There are six Intro to Building labs. Each lab introduces students to different parts of the kit.

Students also learn important topics such as the engineering design process, teamwork, and how to document ideas.

Lab 1 - Kit Introduction (40 minutes)

Students follow along to build the mini astronaut (J.O.S.H.) using their kits. Learn about about the tools, parts, & organization of kits. Discuss the 4 types of components: Electronics, Structural Components, Fasteners, & Motion Components. How do these work together to make up a robot? Why do we need all 4 types? What if one was missing - would the robot work?

Lab 2 - NASA Flagpole (40 minutes)

"Our first project is to build a flagpole for our Astronaut to place on the surface of Mars." Discuss Beams, Pins, and Standoffs. Similarities, differences, how they work together. Students practice using the 3 features of the pin tool. (puller, pusher, & lever) Students explore building and disassembling. Engineering is an "iterative" process, which means you are supposed to try as many different ideas as possible! Students get creative and build different types of flagpoles.

Lab 3 - Launchpad (40 minutes)

Instruct groups that they are going to design and build a launch pad that will connect their GO Tile together with another group's tile.

"How many of you have walked across a bridge before? What was it like? Have you been across a bridge that felt wobbly or unstable?" We want our Astronaut to safely get to their spaceship across the launch pad. Launch pads are similar to bridges because an astronaut must walk across the launch pad to get to the spaceship. We need to use balance and stability to get their astronaut safely across the launch pad.

  • Emphasize the importance of sharing roles and why teamwork is important in engineering. Working together leads to better, more creative results! Use the roles & routines worksheet to establish norms.

  • Design --> Build --> Repeat! Emphasize the importance of using the blueprint to design and document ideas.

  • Pins can be easily lost. Have students check the floor and move chairs when cleaning.

  • Use standoffs for easily creating stair steps.

Extension - Tallest Tower Activity

  • As time allows

Day 2

Intro to Bilding (labs 4-6)

Lab 4 - Spaceship (40 minutes)

  1. Slideshow (for inspiration and context; students design their own spaceships)

Discuss the engineering design process (use the handout) Part 1: Students design and build their own spaceship that leaves the astronaut exposed (like a convertible) Part 2: Students design and build their own spaceship that encloses the astronaut. Students use the engineering design process organizer and blueprint to document their process.

Lab 5 - Mars Buggy (40+ minutes)

  1. Lesson Plan, step by step!

Demonstrate and explain wheels and axles to students including how they attach, detach, and interact with one another using the Lab 5 Slideshow and pieces from the kit. Students will first be building a buggy with functional wheels and then expanding their design to incorporate gears. Because this is a free-build Lab, encourage students to use trial and error. No test will be successful in the first round.

Lab 6 - Mars Base Build (40 minutes)

Groups will design and build a base for Mars. The base should protect the Astronaut from the environment while providing enough space for them to move around. They can build any design that they want, the only constraint is that they can only use pieces from the VEX GO Kit (minus the electronics) to build their Mars Base. Get creative! Each group should use their Engineering Design Process Organizer to plan their build.

Extension - Chain Reaction Activity (as time allows)

Day 3

Set up the course before class. The suggested slalom course uses Tiles for the base and Yellow Connectors and Orange Beams to create the slalom gates.

Each group needs a Chromebook! Students will need to add the VEXcodeGO app from the Chrome Web Store! OR use this website if the app won't load:

Lab 1 - Remote Control Robot (40 minutes)

Students will build a robot and practice remote-controlled driving.

  1. Code Base Build Instructions (students access via Chromebook)

  2. Lesson Plan, step by step

If the Code Base does not respond, try disconnecting and reconnecting the Brain and try again. This may happen if too much time passes between turns driving the Code Base.

Lab 2 - Code and Drive (40 minutes)

Students will program the robot to complete the slalom course autonomously.

  1. Lesson Plan, step by step

Lab 3 - Using the LED Bumper (40 minutes)

Students will use their first output device (LED) and sensor (bumper) on their robot!

  1. Lesson Plan, step by step

Lab 4 - Color Disk Maze (40 minutes)

Students will use the Eye Sensor to sense colors detect objects.

  1. Lesson Plan, step by step

Day 4

Lab 1 - Collect a Sample (40 minutes)

Students will pretend that their Code Base robot is a Mars Rover. They will build a project in VEXcode GO to drive and collect a sample with the Code Base rover.

  1. Lesson Plans, step by step

Lab 2 - Collect and Bury Mission (40 minutes)

  1. Lesson Plans, step by step

Lab 1 - Detect Obstacles (40 minutes)

  1. Lesson Plans, step by step

Lab 2 - Clear the Landing Area (40 minutes)

  1. Lesson Plans, step by step

Day 5

Lab 1 - Collect a Martian Rock Sample

Lab 2 - Study Your Martian Rock Sample

Lab 3 - Sort Your Samples

Lab 4 - Planetary Geologist

Notes from 2021 Camp

Week 1

  • Day 1: Complete selected labs from "Intro to Building"

  • Day 2: Build the code base, drive it remotely using a Chromebook as the remote controller.

  • Day 3: Build the "LED" version of the Code Base, and code it.

  • Day 4: Coding challenges. Navigate mazes by programming the code base.

Week 2

  • Day 1: "Intro to Building"

    • Teacher guides class through building a person with the components of the kit. Show how to use the pin tool. Give students some time to just play and build whatever they want. (people, monsters, sharks, whatever!)

    • Encourage students to build the "spaceship" lab

    • Encourage students to build the "car" lab

  • Day 2: Build the code base, drive it remotely using a chromebook as the remote controller. See if they can drive it through a maze, or play a game in the arena. (push tennis balls, battle bots, etc.)

  • Day 3: Begin to Code the drive base. Code the robot to drive in a zig-zag pattern. Add the LED Button, and program it to change colors while driving.

  • Day 4: Program robot to "wait until button is pressed" before driving. Then, program it to complete as many mazes as possible. (Various mazes are laid out on the floor in masking tape)

  • Day 5: If the program doesn't load on the chromebooks use this website instead: Play a game in which students have to modify their robots to push cubes around the arena. Colors are worth different points (one color is -1 point). Teams push blocks into corners. Add up the points for each team's corner at the end of the match to see who wins.

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