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Empowering Students to be Technology Leaders — “Techsperts!”

Aug 2, 2017

WONDERful Advice from our WW Guest Blogger

It’s no secret that students often know how to utilize technology better than their teachers. This truth can be looked at as a blessing or a curse. In Beverly Hills Unified School District, we see this as a blessing and an opportunity. So, for the past 2 years we have been trying to harness the power of tech-savvy students in order to propel technology use to new heights in our classrooms.

Finding Our Purpose and Getting Started

Our student technology leader program that we have officially branded the “Techsperts”, was born out of the need for more “hands on deck” and has taken on a powerful life of it’s own. When we began our program, we wanted to help our teachers feel more confident using technology in their classrooms and we knew that required more support for teachers when technology-related problems arose. We felt like we needed an army to accomplish what we wanted to do but we realized that we already had one; our students! In order to rally the troops, we created a flyer advertising that we needed student technology leaders who were going to “help their teachers and classmates to better use technology”; a vague statement that thankfully brought in over 25 kids!

Becoming Everyday Leaders

We let this first group of students know that this program was going to grow organically and that we needed their help to shape it. To be honest, the IT specialist and I did think that we would deploy this group of students to help fix issues and maintain hardware around the school. This proved to be a difficult task and a scheduling nightmare. However, we were pleasantly surprised when our Techsperts began to take it upon themselves to come to the aid of their teachers and classmates. They were eager to share what technical difficulties and triumphs they were experiencing in their classes and they were equally eager to share how they helped in some way — without really being given direction to do so. We soon realized that these students didn’t need a schedule to be helpful in the school. They had taken the understanding that they were going to “help their teachers and classmates to better use technology” and they ran with it!

Teaching Tech?

We found that our student technology leaders had an immense amount of knowledge about technology in many forms. It was obvious it would not be appropriate to prepare lessons that taught them how to use certain apps and programs. Instead, we decided to work on projects that would help the school and allow for them to learn from one another. We began making a website, creating a checkout system for devices, and creating a YouTube channel with tech tips, just to name a few. Soon, we began getting requests to help with school wide events and special projects.

Harnessing Their Power

I have realized that my job is not to teach the Techsperts about technology or to coordinate them to help around the school. My job is to “harness their power” to help our school community and I’ve realized that empowering them to be responsible, thoughtful leaders is one of the best ways that I can do this. Armed with the understanding that they are seen as leaders, the TechSperts have impacted our school culture by creating the understanding that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner, especially when it comes to technology.

Tips for Getting Started

  1. Ask promising students directly. I have found that asking students directly if they would like to be involved is a great way to recruit technology leaders. When students know that you see leadership qualities in them, they are more likely to want to participate and they are likely to embark on the journey with pride and confidence.
  2. Gain teacher support. Let the other teachers at your school know of your plans as well as your hopes and dreams for your student technology leaders. Ask them which students are already proving to be technology leaders in their classes. Invite teachers to brainstorm how they can see the technology leaders helping throughout the school.
  3. Find your purpose. In order for student technology leaders to make an impact at your school, they need to be addressing genuine needs that exist. Your greatest source of information will be your students who can give you a big picture understanding of patterns and trends with technology successes and challenges in your school. Ask the students and the teachers how technology use could be improved and begin formulating a plan.

Amanda Magalhães is a 5th grade teacher at Hawthorne School in Beverly Hills School District.

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.