GEAR (Get Excited About Robotics) is a LEGO MINSTORMS EV3 robotics challenge offered to learners aged 14 years old or younger. “GEAR was created to foster interest among today’s youth in a career in engineering, science or technology. It is vital that they learn how engineers and scientists add value to our society and without them the world today would not be possible. Engineers and scientists are the true heroes of our modern world.” (Robert Acosta, President of GEAR Robotics). GEAR competitions have been offered at Texas Tech University for over 10 years.
The Virtual GEAR competition is designed for teams that cannot/do not want to travel to an on-‐‑site GEAR competition and broadens participation to an international audience. Robots are designed and tested locally. Teams create and upload videos demonstrating their robots’ performance and explaining their engineering design process.
The robot is designed using LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3/NXT kits and autonomously has to perform a variety of tasks within two minutes on a 4’ x 4’ game field. The game elements consist of inexpensive supermarket/hardware store items and the game mat can easily be created using a white surface and electric tape. Both, instructions for the design of playing field and a list of required game elements will be released several weeks before the competition allowing even rural teams to be prepared at the kickoff day of the competition. There is no registration fee and no requirement to travel, since all communication will be done via video conferencing and social media, thus the name Virtual GEAR. The challenge is designed in such a way that beginners can accomplish several tasks, while advanced teams can practice and improve their game strategy and robot design skills. The competition runs for 8 weeks and the recommended time commitment is 1-‐‑2 hours per week, assuming participants already know how to program LEGO robots (approx. 6-‐‑10 h of exposure to LEGO robotics).
Each robotics program may enter up to two teams into the Virtual GEAR competition. There is no registration fee, but coaches are responsible for the purchase of game elements and the creation (taping/printing) of the game field and online registration is required. They also need to recruit their team members. There is no limitation on the number of learners in a team. It is recommended that teams consist of at least 3 and at most 6 members. All learners must be 14 years old or younger on the day of the competition. We will offer two categories of GEAR:
“First Timers” is for teams that have never participated in a LEGO robotics