ALEX Learning Activity

Down on the Farm: A VEX IQ Learning Activity

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Robert Mayben
System:Alabama Department of Education
School:Alabama Department of Education
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2482
Down on the Farm: A VEX IQ Learning Activity
Digital Tool/Resource:
VEX IQ Robotics Kit
Web Address – URL:

Down on the Farm is a two-part VEX IQ learning activity that provides a hands-on exploration into the impact of computing and simulations on human tasks and machinery. Learners will assemble VEX IQ clawbots to use in a programming activity and a simulation activity based on agricultural tasks.

This activity was demonstrated during the Exploring Today's Classroom (ETC) Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 8
3) Create an algorithm using a programming language that includes the use of sequencing, selections, or iterations.

Example: Use a block-based or script programming language
Step 1: Start
Step 2: Declare variables a, b and c.
Step 3: Read variables a, b and c.
Step 4: If a>b
      If a>c
         Display a is the largest number.
         Display c is the largest number.
      If b>c
         Display b is the largest number.
         Display c is the greatest number.
Step 5: Stop

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 8
6) Describe how algorithmic processes and automation increase efficiency.

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 8
26) Create a simulation that tests a specific model.

Examples: Demonstrate that pressure changes with temperature in a controlled environment; demonstrate that rocket design affects the height of a rocket's launch; demonstrate that the amount of water changes the height of a plant.

Learning Objectives:

The students will:

  1. create an algorithm using basic block programming language that includes sequencing and iterations.
  2. create a simulation using the VEX IQ Clawbot to demonstrate how robotics may be used in agricultural settings to save time and money.   
  3. explain how algorithmic processes and automation increase efficiency.
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

  1. Using the Clawbot with Controller instructions, the students will construct the VEX IQ Clawbot and connect it to the VEX Controller.
  2. Part I:

    • Divide the students into groups of 3.

      • Driver
      • Programmer
      • Recorder

    • Have the Programmer open the VEXcode IQ Blocks software. 
    • Explain to the groups they will use sequencing to create an algorithm to navigate the Clawbot through the Pig Slop to the Pig Trough using the course designed prior to the activity.  
    • Have the students analyze the course to determine the sequence/steps needed to reach the Pig Trough.
    • Using this sequence, the students will use block coding to create the program following this sequence.   The completed program will be used to drive the Clawbot through the course.
    • Allow the groups 5 attempts to navigate the course. 

      • The driver will drive the robot, the programmer keeps the time it takes to complete the task as well as makes sure the robot is in the correct driving mode, and the recorder records the time for each attempt in the Engineering Notebook.

    • After these attempts,  discuss the best practices of completing the task as well as how algorithmic processes and automation can increase efficiency and benefit agriculture and other industries.

  3. Part II:

    • Students will remain in the groups of 3. 
    • In this activity, ask students to write a code that will enable the VEX IQ Clawbot to autonomously navigate a cornfield in order to simulate how robots could complete repetitious tasks on a farm.

      • The programmer will write the code using VEX Blocks or other selective programming language and send the code to the robot.
      • The driver will set the robot at the starting point and start the program.
      • The recorder will record the successful program and document how many iterations of code were required before the robot successfully navigated the field. This should be completed in the Engineering Notebook. 

    • After completing, as a whole group discuss the best practices of completing repetitious tasks as well as how simulations and models could benefit agriculture and other industries.

Assessment Strategies:

The teacher will observe the basic block programs to determine if students created an algorithm that includes sequencing and iterations to navigate the Clawbot.

The simulation will be analyzed for completion.

Exit tickets will be used for students to explain how algorithmic processes and automation increase efficiency.

Advanced Preparation:

  1. Prepare each VEX IQ Robotics kit. This would include making sure the battery is charged for each kit and that each kit is complete.
  2. It is recommended for each group of students to be no more than 4 students per robot.
  3. Use painter's tape to set up the pigpen and cornfield. The VEX IQ competition field would also work, but there need to be enough courses so that multiple groups can be completing the tasks at one time. It is recommended to have the same number of pens/fields as there are robots.
  4. Toy pigs and blocks should be used for the Feed the Pig activity. The VEX Competition cubes are recommended.
Variation Tips (optional):

There are remixes and advanced ideas for programming found on the VEX IQ Clawbot PDF:

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

This is an original idea based on the activities found in the VEX IQ Clawbot with Controller STEM Lab. The curriculum is freely available on the VEX IQ Education site.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: impact of computing, models, programming, robotics, simulations, VEX