Sonoma County Office of Education

Students prepare for Robotics Challenge, May 3

04/23/2014 - Students in grades 4-8 will demonstrate 21st century thinking skills and abilities when the small robots they’ve constructed compete at the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge. The event takes place on Saturday, May 3, 8:45am to 2:00pm, at Elsie Allen High School. The public is invited to watch the competition, which involves over 300 students.

Working in teams, the students will compete in a variety of events for beginner through advanced robot designers. See examples of the types of events in this video from last year’s Robotics Challenge.

2013 Robotics Challenge

2013 Robotics Challenge (3:31) | Jan 2014
Four student competitions are featured in this short video: Hit the Brick, Bulldozer, Sumo, and Off Road Racing.


The 2014 Robotics Challenge will include seven events: Bulldozer, Drag Racing, Free Form, Off-Road Racing, Shot Put, Sumo, and a Programming Challenge. A new component in this year’s Robotics Challenge is the Construction and Design Museum, which will showcase Lego creations about space travel created by first, second, and third graders.

The goal of the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge is to engage elementary and middle school students in applying mathematics, science, engineering, critical thinking, teamwork, and presentation skills through robotics activities. Students use Lego Mindstorm kits to design and build robots that respond to the challenges. The kits contain bricks, plates, beams, pins, axles, wheels, motors, sensors, and a smart “programmable” brick.

The programming languages used with the kits were developed by Carnie Mellon University and Lego. They run on popular computer operating systems and are accessible through a graphical user interface. Students learn how to develop programs to operate their robots, then carry out trial-and-error activities to find the best challenge solutions. The processes they use are similar to the work of real-life engineers: brainstorming solutions, designing and evaluating prototypes, and refining designs. Robots must work autonomously (without human control) at the competition.

Since its inception in 2003, the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge has reached over 2,000 students. The project meets its educational goals by actively engaging students in applying academic learning and encouraging them to think about and prepare for future careers in the technology industry.

For more information, see