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RS Components joins forces with VEX Robotics to set summer STEM coding challenge

LONDON, UK, 7 July 2020 – RS Components (RS), a trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), a global omni-channel solutions partner for industrial customers and suppliers, has paired up with educational robotics systems provider VEX Robotics to launch its latest STEM initiative for 8- to 16-year olds.

The online challenge tasks students with writing code to enable a virtual robot to deliver ingredients to a production line in a virtual crisp factory. The virtual robot requires students to code its movement, and sensors help it to navigate around the factory floor and to collect and release containers for the ingredients to make the crisps.

The coding task is executed via VEXcode VR, using a simple block-based programming environment powered by Scratch or a Python text-based interface. VEXcode VR is a web-based portal, no installation is required, and it will run on all major desktops, Chromebook and tablet browsers.

The challenge is split into three categories: primary school students (aged 8 to 11); lower secondary school students (aged 11 to 14, in years 7-9); upper secondary school students (aged 14 to 16, in years 10-11). Students have the option to complete three coding tasks, with more difficult tasks available for students to gain additional credit from the judges. Further credit will also be given for solutions using Python coding throughout.

Winners will be selected by judges from RS and VEX Robotics who will assess the most efficient and creative code used in the challenge. One winner in each age category will receive a VEX Robotics off road truck, a remote-controlled vehicle kit that is assembled from over 820 parts and, once complete, can be controlled using the VEX Pilot app. The runner-up of each category will receive a VEX robotics gear racer kit, which enables the user to experiment with how different gear ratios affect the speed and acceleration of a rubber band-powered car.

“Coding is a creative process and a key engineering skill that we must nurture for continued innovation in technology,” commented Laura Giddings, STEM Education Manager at RS. “This online educational challenge with VEX Robotics is designed to encourage young minds to explore coding in a fun, safe and engaging way, and to reward them with a sense of achievement in the learning process.”

“For over a decade, VEX Robotics has helped students to develop skills in design, engineering and coding through competitive robotics,” said Chris Calver, UK Education Manager at VEX Robotics. “Now with VEXcode VR, teachers can continue to use robotics concepts to teach computing and coding even when it is not possible to be using physical robots. These skills in programming, testing and debugging are easily transferable, not only to physical robots but also to all other areas of computer science.”

For details of how to enter the challenge, please visit http://uk.rs-online.com/STEM. The closing date for submissions is 00:00 BST on Friday 31 August 2020. The winners will be announced in early September.

For more information about RS Education, please visit https://uk.rs-online.com/Education.

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