In the Classroom  |  Classroom Best Practice  |  Product Updates  |  

Bringing the Learning Power of Coding and Applied Robotics to Middle School Classrooms

Aug 22, 2018

Why Coding and Robotics Is a Vital Literacy for All Learners

As I enter my 26th back-to-school season in edtech, I find it amazing how technology has become so foundational in the way we work, play, learn, and live. That said, innovation grows at a fast pace, so as we enter another school year, it’s important to examine how our students’ technology literacy skills are keeping pace, so that we can ensure all of our students and teachers are “future ready” — not just from a career perspective but also from a learning perspective.

This is the perspective we, at Wonder Workshop, adopted when engineering the latest set of solutions designed to expand our award-winning coding and robotics solutions to middle schools. At the BETT conference in London last January, we unveiled Cue, our latest robot designed to give middle school students the opportunity to advance their coding skills from block-based to text-based coding. Since that time, we have been busy designing a new project-based learning curriculum, enhancing our app environment to include state-machine programming to leverage the more powerful sensors in Cue, developing online professional learning built specifically for middle school educators, and designing Cue product bundles that make it easy and cost-effective to purchase complete middle school classroom solutions.

Today, I’m excited to announce that these new solutions are ready to deliver to middle school classrooms!

Teachers are the #1 priority!

To create future-ready students, our first priority must be to develop future-ready skills for teachers to harness in their everyday teaching practice. In the case of middle school teachers, this is even more critical, as their students are coming to school equipped with the latest smartphone technology or school-provided 1:1 technology. Thus, middle school teachers need to build their confidence in using technology in their daily practice to create more engaging classrooms and coursework that keeps pace with the innovation students are constantly engaged with outside of the classroom.

Wonder Workshop has made it easy for teachers to build a foundation for their understanding of computer science and 21st-century learning by offering our latest Teach Wonder professional development online courseIntroduction to Coding and Robotics with Cue. The course is designed to help teachers understand the “why” of bringing computer science principles into the everyday classroom, while also diving into a hands-on experience in understanding the capabilities of the Cue robot and its associated apps and curriculum. We have seen educators take our online PD courses as a complement to in-person training (either as homework before or after) or by forming a cohort of peers in their school and working through the content together. The course allows you to continually reflect on and share your learnings with educators from across the country through FlipGrid and an online community forum. Most importantly, you’ll discover activities that you, in turn, can use with your students in class the next dayCheck out the new syllabus.

Curriculum must be designed to engage and inspire creativity in all students, not just the traditional “tech geeks.”

Relevant curriculum is also critical in engaging middle school students to advance their computer science literacy beyond what they learned in elementary school. Quite often, there is a drop in students’ interest in expanding their skills because they are just taught coding concepts without being asked to apply their skills to solving real-world, relevant problems and devise solutions that engage their creativity. To pique interest, students, especially girls, must be given a level of voice and choice in the projects they pursue in applying their computer science literacy skills. Accordingly, our experience in delivering gender neutral coding and robotics curriculum in elementary schools has guided us in the development of Unit 1: Creative Writing of our Applied Robotics Curriculum which is now shipping. Read more about how we’ve incorporated voice and choice in the curriculum.

Create “Wonder Moments” with students by using our new Cue app that now supports key middle school technology platforms.

Wonder Workshop has spent the last year iterating on our Cue app suite, now available on iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows 10, and Chromebooks. We have been listening to teachers across the country at national and regional conferences, and here are some of the key features of the Cue app that they get particularly excited about:

  • Block & JavaScript toggle feature: The toggle puts agency in the hands of kids to begin scaffolding their own learning. They can see how blocks translate into JavaScript, and vice versa. This visual learning experience will guide eager coders on the path to text-based programming. Then students can explore the state-machine paradigm of Wonder, creating a visually-rich, flowchart-type model of commands.
  • Longer audio recording (10-second clips): Students can now incorporate storytelling, verbal responses, sounds, and music clips into their programs for Cue.
  • 4 free avatars: Students can customize the personality of each robot they use when designing and testing their programs.
  • Reactions: Cue can execute several commands at the same time, as it’s easy to manipulate the multiple sensors that come with each Cue robot.
  • Charge: A new battery charge display helps teachers ensure that robots are ready to go for each class.
  • Sound: The ability to turn off sound is a key benefit for teachers to manage the overall classroom experience.

More specifically, Cue on Windows 10 and Chromebooks considers teachers’ busy days with many teacher-friendly tools:

  • Windows 10 and Chromebooks: This app is available for Microsoft’s Windows 10 and for Chromebooks (see list of compatible devices). For iOS and Android, you can use the Cue app, but do note that it doesn’t include the teacher-friendly features below … yet!
  • Teacher account: Create your own educator account, which then helps you create student accounts.
  • Student accounts: Students can create individual, COPPA-compliant accounts so that they can save their programs and access them from any device.
  • Automatic cloud sync: Programs are saved in real time to students’ accounts.
  • Single sign-on (SSO): You and your students can use your existing Office 360 and Google accounts to log into accounts.
  • In-app content: To help onboard you and your students, Blocks & JavaScript® (formerly called “Code”) and Wonder (formerly called “Create”) begin with a tutorial. There are 39 in-app Blocks & JavaScript challenges that support Unit 1 (and more) of our Applied Robotics Curriculum for grades 6-8. There are also nine Wonder examples.

Robot + app + curriculum + accessories + professional development = Ready-to-roll solutions for your classroom at significant savings!

As you can see, Wonder Workshop has been busy developing a best-in-class coding and robotics solution for middle school students and teachers. To make it easier for you to decide what to use in your classroom, we’ve designed five new solution packs that meet the needs of specific middle school implementation strategies and provide the best value in deploying coding and robotics solutions:

Lastly, join the Wonder League!

You now can provide ongoing motivation for your students to explore Cue and its features by joining our Wonder League and participating in the Wonder League Robotics Competition. This year, we are adding a third age category, ages 12-14, with creative problem-solving missions for teams of up to 5 students. Your teams can participate in as few or as many of the missions as you’d like, and teams that make it to the worldwide Invitational Round will have the chance to win a $5,000 STEM grant grand prize. SIGN UP to receive more details.

Welcome back to school, and be sure to give your students the opportunity to create their own “Wonder Moments” with Wonder Workshop!

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:

Check Device Compatibility here:

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

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, 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 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.