In the Classroom  |  Wonder League Robotics Competition  |  Stories  |  

Some Say Stubbornness, I Say Perseverance

Sep 28, 2017

WONDERful Advice from our WW Guest Blogger — Tom How, Istanbul, Turkey

The shipment finally arrived!

Hi, my name is Tom How (aka Tom Teacher). I have recently been appointed as Head of Foreign Languages at my new school here in Turkey. For the past six years, I have been teaching English as a second language to students ages 6 and up.

At Avrupa Koleji (Europe College), we teach 3-year-old kindergarteners and primary students up to 10 years old. The school is part of a large group, and ours is based in Acıbadem, Istanbul. The name of the school, Acıbadem İnovasyon Okulu (“Acıbadem Innovation School”), has the word Inovasyon (“Innovation”) in it, so I wanted to create something that encompassed innovation and teaching English to Turkish students.

Enter Dash & Dot from Wonder Workshop! I spent two weeks researching different ideas and products, and after a lot of time I decided that Dash & Dot were the best thing for my students’ needs.

My first obstacle was that due to exchange rates, this technology is very expensive to buy. When I first suggested the program, it was included in a much bigger idea of teaching innovation via English-language lessons. The school thought it would be a great idea and asked me to prepare a budget for the total. When I presented the budget, it was refused 24 hours later as it was too much money. I did spend some time researching whether or not there was any kind of external funding, but here in Turkey it is very hard to find.

Next, I tried to modify my idea and prepared a new PowerPoint presentation about using Dash & Dot in lessons. Unfortunately, I was met with the same result — a refusal from the school. Yet, being the stubborn person I am, my next step was to present the idea of a coding and robotics club, for which we would need only the Classroom Pack. I suggested that we could enter the worldwide Wonder League Robotics Competition run by Wonder Workshop, which would be perfect for our third- and fourth-grade students.

This time, with the budget decreased (and with the added bonus of a 10% discount for Wonder League coaches) and with innovation being taught through a club model, I figured that I had a winner. So the next day, I presented the idea to the school and waited for the answer. … This time I had the right solution! I was thrilled. I also wanted to buy the xylophone accessory and a multi-charger, but I thought I would be pushing my luck too far, so I just settled for the Classroom Pack.

On Friday, August 25th, the school owner was due to leave for a holiday, so I needed to strike while the iron was hot. When she mentioned that she would be leaving in 15 minutes for a 10-day holiday, I grabbed her credit card, rushed back to my department room, grabbed my laptop, and within 15 minutes (as she was packing her bag), I had ordered the Classroom Pack and had my email confirmation in hand.

Our club will be for third- and fourth-grade students, and I plan to hold two club sessions every Friday afternoon. As a longtime website designer, I also have created a website and registered the domain,, plus I’ve added a Facebook page, which will be launched when school term starts on September 11th. None of this would have happened without the support of our school owner, Nesli, and the school manager, Aynur. I would like to thank them for helping me make all of this possible.

My advice to anyone who wishes to do something like this is: Never give up, keep on trying until you get the compromise that suits everybody. We are looking forward to some fun and games with our students and the community.

Tom How is the Foreign Language Department Head and English teacher at Avrupa Koleji Inovasyon Koleji, Acıbadem, Istanbul, Turkey.

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.