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Happy Birthday to Dash & Dot: The Little Robots That Can — and Did!

Sep 13, 2018

Happy Birthday, Dash & Dot! Five years ago on this very day, September 13, Dash & Dot arrived in our world. They looked every bit the quirky, otherworldly beings that we had envisioned them to be. And yet, at first look, they also evoked a sense of friendliness.

Since that day, Dash & Dot have reached every corner on Earth — and even outer space — and have made friends with children of all ages, gender, race, ethnicity, and skill. Along the way, these children have executed over 79 million programs for these robots. Dash & Dot have made it to the White House and to the sets of “The Big Bang Theory.” They’ve had their own YouTube show, and they’ve graced the covers of magazines and books. These robots — our little ones — have found love and fame all over the world.

Dot the robot — flies into space

Once we had the robots assembled, our real work began. We had to breathe life into these robots with software. We had to give them skills and abilities. The robots’ personalities needed to come alive. We invested in personalities for the robots that would engage children right out of the box.

Animations of these personalities were created in Maya (modeling software). We built tools to translate those animations into on-robot code. And we iterated. We dreamed up experiences that were above and beyond the capabilities of other robots, and worked hard to turn dreams into reality. Today, I can look back and take a moment to feel proud and thankful for the team of engineers, designers, animators, artists, and creators who have been a part of the five-year journey of Dash & Dot.

In 2013, when we were getting ready to show Dash for the first time to the world, we wanted to create an experience with Dash that hadn’t been done before with robots — and one that brought out the capabilities of the robot in a memorable way.

At that point we had already designed the robot’s physical shape, and had committed to an animated body — especially brought to life with a head that the robot could control with two axes of motion. This is when we dreamed up the possibility of Dash being able to play music on a xylophone. Here’s a video that shows the work from those early days, and what Dash’s Xylo is today — with variations of the tune, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”:

This goal was easier said than done to have Dash become a musician. Dash had to have precise control of its head motion — so that it could position the Xylophone mallet accurately. The mallet needed to be able to move from one end of the Xylo to the other in a short time, so that it could play all the notes in succession. Dash had to hit the bars with a highly calibrated nod, so that the notes sounded good.

The design process spanned animations — instrumenting the sensor data for the head positions, and instrumenting the animation playback on the robot to get the sound right. This was almost like teaching a child to walk or ride a bicycle. Just like parents taking joy in their watching their child go from learning to walk to running around, we can take pride in the moments of joy and wonder that Dash has brought to children around the world.

The real joy, though, lies in the creations from children around the world — and what they do with the tools we build. And what better way for me to celebrate but to share their creativity with you:

Join us in celebrating Dash & Dot’s birthday on September 13. Share your birthday wishes, performances, and celebrations with us all month long to be entered to win a Dash robot.

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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.