Rolling Robots will be participating in ROBOGAMES 2015, from April 3-5th in San Mateo, California.

ROBOGAMES is the world's largest robotics competition with over 50 events and teams from 15 countries. It features competitive challenges for robots of all levels, from 220lb combat bots all the way down to Jr LEGO machines. Rolling Robots will compete in the 60lb combat, 500g sumo, fire-fighting, and LEGO events. Any member that wants to put in the extra time to prepare and compete is welcome.

sumo medal winners at ROBOGAMES

Sumo - Computer controlled mini-bots attempt to push other robots out of a ring. Rolling Robots has won medals for this event in the past.

rolling robots sumo bot

Fire-Fighting - In this event, the challenging team pilots a simulated home assistance robot that will guard a model residence against fires. The robot will search the house for a fire, extinguish it, and alert the occupants. The fire-fighting challenge requires the robots to go through a maze of 4 rooms autonomously and search for the fire (represented by a burning candle). Once the candle is found, the robot must extinguish it and sound their alarm. We have participated in this challenge in the past and our homeschool students have been working on a robot for this event since last fall.

fire fighting robot

Combat - Robots try to destroy each other. Disabling an opponent's robot is a knockout, but there is also a points system (like in a boxing match) as well as a tap-out option. Rolling Robots will field a multi-bot for this event. (A multi-bot is two or more robots that have a combined weight that fits the weight class. We do it this way so that more people get a chance to work on and pilot the robots.) This year, we have two 30lb robots competing in the 60lb weight class. We have participated in this event twice before and we use the same robots each year, upgrading their features and performance each time in order to optimize their fighting abilities.

robot combat

LEGO - Features several different challenges using the LEGO Mindstorms system. This section is specifically for students under the age of 18, though some challengers will be much younger and an age barrier does not necessarily exclude students from the competition.

See lots of cool robots! Humanoids doing Kung-Fu and Soccer, super-fast maze runners, specialty robots, flying drones and more! Check out the video below for some highlights. Even see a couple of Rolling Robots Kids with medals around their necks at 1:07.

Meet interesting people As the largest robotics competition, there will be famous robot builders from all over the world in attendance. This year’s host is Grant Imahara, famous for his roles in MythBusters, BattleBots, Punkin' Chunkin', StarWars Episodes 1-3, Killer Robots, and many other great TV shows and movies.

grant imahara

DETAILS: The Rolling Robots ROBOGAMES team is open to all members of Rolling Robots. We will arrange your registration and pay the entry fees for the robots. There is an additional $50 charge for the month of March to be part of the team. There is no additional charge if you are part of the middle school VEX team or if you purchase your own Arduino Sumo Kit.

Travel to ROBOGAMES 2015, April 3- 5th in San Mateo, California is an independent activity and must be arranged, paid for, and supervised by the parents. Parents and their children will also need to purchase tickets for the event.

Talk to an instructor at Rolling Robots to sign up. All team members must be signed-up and paid for by March 5th, 2015.


The VexIQ building system is a no-tools-required robotics platform that gives students an introduction to engineering. The system gives kids practical experience in structures, motors, gears, and computer programming, guiding them in the use of these concepts in producing competition-level robots for the VexIQ Challenge. This system stands above the crowd compared to the other robotics packages available at the elementary school level in that it acts as an immediate gateway to the higher level VEX or VRC competitions. Students will learn the skills they need to compete in fun and rewarding Vex challenges, such as the 4-bar lift:

Here is a 4 bar lift built for the VEX-IQ Challenge. The 4 bar provides an effective lifting mechanism using a parallelogram structure to keep the lift platform horizontal while lifting to full height. This type of lift can be seen on delivery trucks with a lift gate. Here it is built with VEX-IQ plastic parts that snap together with pegs.

Vex-IQ 4 bar lift

Here is a similar mechanism built using the VEX robotics system of the VRC competitions. The design and function of the lift are the same, but here it is built with metal parts, nuts and bolts and is stronger and more stable. Students that start early with the VEX-IQ system will have an advantage when building these more complex systems.


The Vex IQ challenge is new every year, evolving and adapting to push students to even greater accomplishments and making sure they never get bored. This year, the new challenge is called Highrise; in it, students build robots capable of moving and stacking cubes in order to create a High-rise stack, as the picture and video below illustrates.

Click here to watch a descriptive video.

Simple Description of Scoring a Match

First, students use their robots to move cubes to the scoring zone. Each cube placed in the scoring zone earns the robot's team a single point; however, if the team can stack the cubes then the total score is multiplied. For example, if the robot manages to stack 3 blue cubes, then every blue cube in the scoring zone is now worth 3 points each. So, imagine if you stack 5 cubes! You'll get 5 times as many points. Stacking is essential to winning and achieving record breaking high-scores.

A one page description of the game is found here: VEX-IQ-Highrise Game Description [PDF].

In a single competition, teams will play through several qualifying rounds each day. Also, they will be randomly paired with a partner team for each match. During the match the teams are playing together cooperatively to score the most points as a combined unit. In this way, each match is not only about competition but also functions as a teamwork activity which will determine their rankings against the other teams. This is usually a hard concept to get across to your young team before they start their first match. We have seen teams try to work against their partner when the competitive spirit grabs them. Getting used to practicing with partner teams before the competition begins is essential for victory and we highly encourage it.

After the qualification rounds are complete, the 12 highest ranked teams will move to the final round. Teams 1 and 2 are paired, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, etc. These teams then get to play one final round to determine the winner.

Awards: The most well-known award is the Tournament Teamwork Champions. This one goes to the two-team alliance which scored the most points in the final round of the tournament. But, even if you don't take home the big trophy, there are several other ways to win. Each team makes a design presentation where they describe their robot and team. Judges will ask questions about technical items as well as team management and creativity. The results of this interview determines the winner of the Design Award.

A separate presentation is then made for the STEM Project [PDF]. To compete for this award, students must present a research project describing an aspect of STEM and how it relates to their robot. Each year a different letter of 'STEM' is picked as a focal topic for the presentation; this year it's E, for Engineering. Students must research the topic and then give a presentation on a specific aspect of engineering which is then reviewed by a panel of judges. Do you all remember how hard it was to stand up and make a presentation during college or high school? Well these kids are getting the experience early; we have had 8 and 9 year olds making professional presentations on complex subjects, helping them to overcome the difficulties of public speaking early.

Teams - here is 7700J

7700J IQ Team

Last year was the first year for team 7700J. They participated in 2 separate tournaments and qualified for the California State Championship. This year they competed in several tournaments and won several awards, including Design, STEM and Excellence.

Here is their robot:

7700J VEX IQ robot

Here is 7700G, a first year team

7700G vex-IQ

Here is their robot:

7700G Robot VEX-IQ

Team 7700G just got started as a team this summer. They got together before they even had a kit of parts and used Vex assembler to design their robot. (Vex assembler is a tool to introduce students to "Computer Aided Design", or CAD). In October they finally got their kit of parts and went to their first tournament on November 15th at Mount San Antonio college (Mt SAC). As a rookie team, they had a fun day but ended up second to last in the rankings. A couple more tournaments followed, also landing them near the bottom of the rankings. Then, at the Palos Verdes tournament, they made a turn for the good and finished 3rd in the final round, but they have still not won a major award.

Next up was the Our Lady of Malibu Robotics Tournament, the last chance for the 7700G team from Glendale to qualify for the state tournament. The team worked very hard in the weeks leading up to this: A new robot was designed with a reinvigorated focus on the programming skills necessary to surmount the challenge. The team had to learn the advanced technique of object oriented programming (OOP) and had to get in lots of practice on the playing field before they finally felt read.

Finally, on January 24 2015, the day of the Malibu tournament arrived. Just before their first match the software failed to work and we had to go compete with only the default code and just push a few cubes. It looked like it was going to be another dreary day near the bottom of the rankings. But,as the day progressed, the team did well in the programming skills challenge, presented their STEM project, and near the end of the day had the design interview. During the design interview our team described all of the modifications they had made to the robot during the season and described the new object-oriented approach to programming they had implemented for the competition.

At the end of the day team 7700G won the Excellence Award, the highest award of the tournament. It's given to the team that performed well in all aspects of the tournament and showed a well organized team.

Excellence Award: Top All Around Team (Robot Performance & Judged)

The Excellence Award is the highest award presented in the VEX IQ Challenge. The recipient of this award is the team that best exemplifies overall excellence in creating a well-rounded VEX IQ program. This team excels in many areas and is a shining example of dedication, devotion, hard work and teamwork. As a strong contender in numerous award categories, this team deserves to be recognized for building a quality robot, delivering an effective STEM Research Project presentation, submitting a well-documented engineering notebook, and demonstrating that their team is committed to excellence in everything that they do.

This award has qualified them to participate in the California State Championship on February 14th at the Pasadena Convention Center. The tournament is not only for Vex IQ, but also includes the Vex Robotics championships for Middle and High School. A total of 90 teams will be competing, and Rolling Robots will have 4 teams represented. So, make sure to come out this weekend to the Pasadena Convention Center and see all the excellent Robots in action.

STEM workshops for 4 to 6-year-olds

Maybe you think your child is too young for the more advanced robot building and computer programming classes? Or maybe you think you might have a little Tech Genius on your hands but you want to test the waters a bit? Maybe you are just trying to feed your child's growing mind and don't know where to begin? Well, the Rolling Robots Bots for Tots series was designed with you and your child in mind.

By working closely with young Tech Geniuses under the age of 5, we have created a series of workshop-based classes suited to that age group to get your child started off right. Here, 4 to 5-year-olds can start learning STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math concepts matched perfectly to their age level.

Bots for tots 4-6yrold

The workshops are designed to be a fun way to teach children mechanical, electrical, and engineering concepts, as well as develop their fine motor skills and creative thinking!

Our curriculum is based off extensive research we've done with the younger groups of kids at Rolling Robots. Workshops focus on hands-on projects proven to convey basic engineering concepts to children in an entertaining and engaging manner. The activities will expose your child to the world of math and science in a way that will be both constructive and rewarding. The program teaches practical skills that your child will use immediately while helping them build a strong foundation in engineering concepts which they can use to further learn and grow.

Some of the things your child will learn are:

  • Shapes, colors and pattern recognition
  • Basic engineering tools and building
  • The principles of motion
  • Measurement, including how to use a ruler
  • Sequencing and the ordering of objects
  • Basic mathematics
  • Fine motor skills
  • Coordination and visual dexterity
  • Sharing, teamwork, planning, and problem solving
  • The engineering design process
  • And even some basic coding!

Some of the classes are based on projects with readily available items such as building bridges with soda straws and towers with marshmallows. Other classes are based on some of the more interesting Children's toys and games we sell at Rolling Robots.

bots 4 tots products

Counting with Clics

We use Clics to teach counting and measurements. With these colorful, easy-to-assemble blocks, we build rectangular cars that teach kids the concepts of length, width, and height, and how they fundamentally describe a three-dimensional object.


Q-Bitz: Patterning

Young children can begin learning the concept of patterns quickly with the help of the game Q-Bitz. We start by exposing the students to simple patterns consisting of colors, shapes, and even sounds, including some musical games. Recognizing and using patterns is essential to future mastery of engineering, computer science, and even music! The Q-Bitz game requires students to look at a pattern on a card and then recreate it using blocks that each have a part of the pattern on one of their six sides. In addition to teaching patterns, the children need to recognize 3D shapes and improve their fine motor skills by correctly placing the small blocks. One example is shown below.


Programming with Robot Turtles

Robot Turtles is a board game for your 3 to 8-year-old and their friends. In addition to being way fun, it also "sneakily teaches the fundamentals of programming," says Dan Shapiro, the inventor of the Robot Turtles game. As a programmer and father to some inquisitive kids of his own, Dan often wondered: How old does a child need to be to start learning how to program? Do they even need to be able to read first? Working with his 4-year-old twins he invented this fascinating game that we use in our workshops when instructing young kids in the art of basic programming. The game is played by moving the Robot Turtles by using action cards that imitate the basic structure of logic and commands integral to all advanced programming languages. Our 4-6 year-olds have great fun with the turtles and don't even realize they are exercising their brains with logical thinking exercises and are actually learning to approach and solve problems in the same way a programmer would!

game board

Preparation for Fun with Technology

Through the Bots for Tots series we are preparing our students for the next levels of their STEM learning, which is our Fun with Technology series designed for 6 and 7-year-olds. When they get to the concepts of electrical circuits, schematic diagrams, and programming using Scratch, they will have a foundation of solid STEM concepts to build upon in the future.

Have a look at a sample of our Bots for Tots classes here: Bots for Tots. Then, please look at our other workshops as well. Your child can drop in for a single class, signup for a month, or become a member at our Membership page.

Hope to see you in class soon!