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During the 6 - 8 week long GEAR challenge elementary and middle student teams design, construct, and program robots using the LEGO SPIKE Prime kits or the older LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3/NXT kits, which contain structural elements, wheels, axles, gears, motors, sensors, and a simple microprocessor with a rechargeable battery. Programming of the robot is accomplished through an intuitive graphical user interface patterned after the widely-popular Scratch software. Communication between the robot's microprocessor and the computer is done through Bluetooth or a computer's USB port.

The annually changing challenge is designed around a fictive story that motivates the need for autonomous robots (i.e. a robot operating in Antarctica, constructing a moon post, or performing surgery). To solve the challenge, students learn engineering skills through a teaming exercise in designing, building, programming, testing, and troubleshooting their wheeled LEGO robots. These robots then compete autonomously in two-minute matches on a 4-by-4-foot game field.

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