5 Reasons why Learning Pods at home are an opportunity to accelerate 21st century skills

Aug 16, 2020

5 Reasons why Learning Pods at home are an opportunity to accelerate 21st century skills

The global COVID pandemic has led us to rethink education with urgency, even panic. On one hand online education has surged, with tools like Outschool helping parents fill gaps through affordable online classes. On the other hand, there is a growing number of parents forming “learning pods” at home. The Facebook group for “pandemic pods” has over 32,000 members and counting.

With school, public and private alike, defaulting to online only or hybrid learning models, parents are justifiably taking it upon themselves to ensure their children can get quality in-person instruction at home.

I have two kids, both in elementary school. My experience and conversations with other parents confirms that elementary school kids have a tougher time adapting to remote learning, and benefit greatly from an in-person environment that includes other children. As parents put pods together for helping their children learn at home with a cohort of other kids, I believe this is also an opportunity for us to accelerate learning of 21st century skills for our children –  in particular coding and robotics. Let me share a few reasons why I believe this.

  1. Project based learning. Learning pods will help parents customize the tuition for their children for their learning abilities. Project based learning helps foster engagement and learning, especially interdisciplinary learning. Introducing hands on coding with robots, with an age-appropriate learning content, is an excellent way to bring project based learning that weaves in analytical reasoning, logic, Math, engineering, and Computer Science.
  2. You already have the robots at home. If you’re the parent who cares deeply about the learning your child gets, you likely already have the highly rated Dash robots at home. It’s time to bring them out and include them in your learning pods. Add Class Connect, that gets your tutor all the tools she will need to effectively add it to the instruction, and watch your kids take the robots farther than they had until now.
  3. Foster Collaboration. If you’re bringing children together so they learn in a group rather than by themselves in front of a screen, you already value collaboration. It is a critical skill for children to learn and working together to program robots is an ideal way to provide that learning opportunity to kids. It’s not a surprise that every year when students share what they learnt most by programming Dash robots, learning to work together is often at the top of the list.
  4. Wonder League Robotics Competition. Every year since 2015, Wonder Workshop has hosted a global competition for children of ages 6–14 to program Dash and Cue robots so solve problems using coding, creativity, and engineering skills. In 2019, more than 5,000 teams competed from 91 countries. Teams can compete in 3 different age groups: 6–8, 9–11, and 12–14. Similar to last year, missions are created in collaboration with Cartoon Network, bringing an engaging story line and challenges that are age appropriate and yet challenging. This year, your children can compete from home, and collaborate with their teammates with ease — they will have more opportunities to meet and work on the missions than they would have otherwise. 
  5. Learning pods can do what schools can’t. Learning pods aren’t ideal — they can be more expensive, and schools provide access to a larger set of resources. However, learning pods can do what schools can’t: they create a peer group of like minded students, fostering an opportunity to learn better, faster. This environment is ideal to introduce learning opportunities like coding and robotics that aren’t possible that easily at school.

If you’re looking to get started on coding and robotics, check out Wonder Workshop’s home learning bundle. The bundle will get you everything you need for your learning pod to code robots during this pandemic and learn a thing or two beyond just coding. 

Wonder League Robotics Competition FAQ | Year 8

Hello, robotics enthusiasts! If you’re here, you’re probably as excited as we are about the 8th Annual Wonder League Robotics Competition! To help you and your teams have the best possible experience competing this year, we wanted to share answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Who Can Compete:

Any kid, anywhere in the world, ages 6-8 (Innovator Cup) and 9-12 (Pioneer Cup). There are two age brackets: 6-8 and 9-12 and team members have to fall within the age category at some point during the competition. Participants must be the qualifying age for their bracket on the last day of the competition, but if they gain a year during the competition, that’s OK. They won’t age out! 

Competition Brackets:

  • Innovator Cup (Age 6-8)
  • Pioneer Cup (Age 9-12)

What Makes a Team:

A team is made up of a supervising adult coach, and one or more children (up to 5). That’s right, kids can compete solo, but a coach who is 18+ is needed to help with the submission process. For multi-kid teams, each member must be in the same age bracket. Coaches may have multiple teams and can register all their teams after registering as a coach. Please keep in mind that each team will need a separate Class Connect registration.

Note: Younger students may participate in the 9-12 age category, but please be aware that the missions have been designed with older students and advanced coding skills in mind.

What a Team Needs to Compete:

Class Connect subscription

The team is made up of a supervising adult coach and one to five members

  1. Compatible device
  2. 5′ x 8′ mat of 30cm squares and basic prototyping materials
  3. Teams in 6-8 & 9-12 age brackets will need a Dash robot
  4. Internet access to download and upload materials

Teams will need one Dash robot: https://store.makewonder.com/products/dash

Check Device Compatibility here: https://www.makewonder.com/compatibility

We will be offering a mat image that you are welcome to use and print with your local printer, but teams are absolutely encouraged to make their own if they prefer. For more on how to make your own mat, check out this blog post.

Coaches will, of course, need internet access to download the apps and keep up with the competition as it progresses, and may want to print out some kid-facing materials that we will provide at each stage.

Class Connect Subscription:

To register for the 8th Wonder League Robotics Competition requires a subscription to Class Connect, providing additional resources like standards-aligned content assignable right inside a student’s Blockly app. Learn more about Class Connect here.

If you already have a Class Connect subscription, you have access to register a team, based on your student license amount. If you have more than one team of 5 students, you will need to purchase another Coach Success Pack or consider a larger subscription to accommodate more teams and students.

  1. A Coach Success Pack provides:
    Participation in the WLRC for up to 5 students
    Access to all Missions
    Full access to Class Connect, (including Math Activities and Dash’s Neighborhood), for 5 students and 1 teacher for 7 months
    A discount code for a Dash robot from our online store at https://store.makewonder.com

Please note: Teams will need a physical Dash robot to complete the Missions.
The Coaches’ Dashboard in Class Connect will help our coaches register and manage their team(s). The dashboard will be your one-stop shop for all Wonder League Robotics Competition management. You will be able to access the Coaches’ Corner–where all competition-related content and resources will be hosted–the Heartbeat community forum, and all the submission forms right there on the Dashboard.

Accessing Missions for the Innovator Cup and Pioneer Cup:

Once your purchase is completed for Class Connect, you will receive an email to activate your Class Connect license.

Once this license is activated, you will be able to register yourself as a coach and register your teams. This is done on your portal page under the Robotics Competition tab.

Once your team/teams are registered, you will get an additional email from CoAssemble, our partner hosting the missions this year. This email will state you have been registered for the “2022-2023 Coaches Corner Course”.

Click on the link to be redirected to the CoAssemble website, and you will see the course and can access the Coaches’ Corner Guide as well as the Missions (available November 3, 2022).

Still having trouble accessing all the resources in the Coaches’ Corner? If you have previously had a license to Class Connect and registered as a coach, and have not seen Coaches’ Corner added to your CoAssemble list of courses, please email us at support@makewonder.com, and we will provide assistance.

Last Year’s Missions:

Taking a peek at last year’s missions might help you get a sense of what the competition is like. Just sign in with your Class Connect subscription and register as a coach to take a peek at the previous years by going to the Coaches’ Corner and selecting the desired year.

2022-23 Wonder League Robotics Competition Milestone Dates:

Here are important milestone dates to keep in mind as coaches develop timelines for teams competing in the 2022-23 Wonder League Robotics Competition.


  1. October 21, 2022: Student Team Registration Opens
  2. November 3, 2022: Round One Opens + Five Mission Released
  3. January 13, 2023: Student Team Registration Closes
  4. January 27, 2023: Mission Evidence Submission Closes 
  5. January 28-March 5, 2023: Invitational Round Notification 
  6. February 6, 2023: Invitational Round Opens + Final Mission Released
  7. March 24, 2023: Invitational Round Submission Due 
  8. April 10, 2023: People’s Choice Voting Opens 
  9. April 21, 2023: People’s Choice Voting Closes 
  10. May 4, 2023: 2022-23 Wonder League Robotics Competition Winner Announcement

NEW Award Category: WLRC People’s Choice Award

Teams may opt in to participate in the WLRC People’s Choice Award category by creating a :30 second video explaining the Team’s Invitational Round Final Mission solution that will be shared with the community at www.makewonder.com/classroom/robotics-competition/ in an “online crowd vote” competition. The WLRC People’s Choice Award allows teams to share and celebrate their work in the WLRC and encourage community support in voting for their team. This is an optional category for teams to enter and will not impact scoring of the Invitational Round submission as they will be judged by STEM and Coding experts using a published rubric.

Children’s Privacy:

We take our participants’ privacy very seriously and comply with COPPA when collecting any information. In the invitational round we ask only for the students’ first names, and request parents’ permission. For those that make it into the Invitational Round, we ask for full names, again with permission. We are never marketing, selling to, or corresponding with children. All contact is through the proxy of the coach.