Sonoma County Office of Education

Robotics Challenge

Robotics Challenge 2020

The Sonoma County Office of Education is proud to sponsor the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge. Now in its 18th year, this dynamic project engages students in grades 4-8. School teams work on challenges designing, building and programming using Lego Mindstorm Robot Kits. Students learn about coding and apply practices from math, science, and engineering as they prepare for events.

Activities span the months of January through May. January is spent building capacity among teachers and volunteers who will work with students at local schools. In early February, challenge events for the year's competition are announced. Challenges are designed for beginner through advanced student competitors. School teams meet once a week from February through April to develop challenge responses. The culminating experience is the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge, where teams come together and compete matching robots and ideas.

2019 Event Video

Catch some of the energy, learning and excitement by viewing this video from the 2019 challenge:

2020 Sonoma County Robotics Challenge Details

When: May 2, 2020 | 8:45am-2:00pm
Where: Elsie Allen High School, Santa Rosa
For: Grade 4-8 school teams

Free Lego Mindstorm EV3 Kits Offered

Through the generosity of a grant from Keysight Technologies, Sonoma County elementary and middle schools can obtain a new Lego Mindstorm EV3 kit valued at $411 to help them participate in the 2020 Sonoma County Robotics Challenge.

Here is a link with details on the grant due on January 10.

2020 Orientation for Teachers & Volunteers

Thursday, January 23, 2020 from 9:00 to 3:00 at the Sonoma County Office of Education. This free activity is for teachers and volunteers who wish to coach students in grades 4-8 being a part of the 2020 Sonoma County Robotics Challenge. It is aimed at beginners and those who want a ‘refresher’ on supporting teams with Lego Mindstorm materials. The training has four areas:

  1. Philosophy of hands-on learning with Lego Mindstorms/STEAM education
  2. How to manage and build with Lego Mindstorm sets
  3. Programming Lego Mindstorm controllers
  4. Hands-on experimentation with a robot driving base using motors & sensors

Here is a link to the registration page for the Robotics Orientation and Training for Teachers and Volunteers.

Prior Year Events

2019 Robotics Challenge | Results and Description

2018 Robotics Challenge | Results and Description

2017 Robotics Challenge | Results

2016 Robotics Challenge | Results

Challenge Event Robots

Lego Mindstorm Robots are used by event competitors. This product was selected because it has a programmable brick, open design & construction options, a variety of sensors, learning materials and programming applications that are accessible to beginning through advanced users. An overview of these robots is offered here:

  • Lego Mindstorm EV3 This is the most popularly used robot set among challenge event competitors. Introduced in Fall 2013, this kit has over 400 Lego elements, including a programmable brick, learning materials, and apps that can run on computers, tablets and Chromebooks.
  • Lego Mindstorm NXT Introduced in 2006, this set was discontinued in 2015. A commercial version can still be purchased at some retail stores. The NXT series is still being used among competitors for beginning and advanced events.
  • Lego Mindstorm RCX This set was introduced in 1998 and discontinued in 2009. It is no longer available for purchase. The software for the RCX programmable brick will not run on newer computers and most schools use this set only for beginning level events.

Working with EV3 Mindstorm Sets

EV3 Tutorial
This is an excellent set of EV3 video tutorials from Dale Yocum of Stemcentric sharing ideas about Lego's new EV3 smart brick and programming language.

Working with NXT Mindstorm Sets

NXT Tutorial
This great NXT video tutorial covers all the basics and is good for new coaches and students.

Projects for NXT 1.0
Here are some free NXT project instructions and programs, including one for Line Following. The site provides opportunities for teams to see projects and learn about programming.

Working with RCX Mindstorm Sets

RCX Building Guide

Lesson Plans
Lego Projects for Math/Science
Linda Hamilton of Marshall University provides a wide range of lesson plans.

Robot Plans
TankBot Instructions (pdf)


Event Director/Spokesperson:
Rick Phelan |

Event Coordinator (Logistics and Registration):
Connie Anderson |