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Using the 6 Steps of Design Thinking to Create our K-5 Learn to Code Curriculum

Sep 3, 2017

Practicing What We Preach


The evolution of our K-5 Learn to Code Curriculum

At the company wrap party for our K-5 Learn to Code Curriculumthe education team took some time to reflect on the evolution of our curriculum design. We thought we’d share some of our insights with you and give you a peek behind the scenes of our development process!

Design Thinking

The design thinking process helps designers and innovators develop effective and creative solutions to myriad problems. This process is used by a variety of business fields to develop products such as cars, theme parks, apps, and toys.

Design thinking is a non-linear process!

When design thinking is integrated into school cultures, it can also foster collaboration, communication, and creativity. For our K-5 Learn to Code Curriculum, each coding level ends with a Design Thinking Assessment so that students can apply their coding skills to solve a real-world problem.

More importantly, we used the design thinking process to develop our own curriculum!


In this stage of the design thinking process, we took the time to understandthe needs and wants of our teachers and students. We began by observing how our robots were used in classrooms and then started to interview teachers from across the country. We documented how students used our robots to solve problems, and we asked teachers about any struggles they faced or any tools that worked for them.


Sharing can be difficult when the content is mostly on the tablet.

From our research, we defined a few main problems. Many teachers didn’t know where to start when teaching coding. Teachers also had a limited amount of classroom time and needed content that could be paired with cross-curricular content so they could get more holistic learning.

As for the students, many student groups struggled with sharing robot and tablet time. Furthermore, students also didn’t have a way to reflect and showcase their work as they improved their coding skills.


We presented teachers with different types of curriculum and listened to what they preferred.

After we identified the problems we wanted to tackle, our team brainstormed and iterated on different types of curriculum we could offer. This ranged from in-app puzzles to challenge cards to project-based lessons. We presented these options to teachers and took their feedback into consideration.


Many meetings involved scribbling out and defining the different components we wanted for our curriculum.

We decided to develop a comprehensive coding curriculum that blended a little bit of old school with new school. By creating physical coding Challenge Cards and providing planning/reflection worksheets, student groups could truly collaborate by taking on different roles. One student could program on the tablet, one could keep track of the card’s objectives and obstacles, and another could document their coding experience.

We also mapped out a scope and sequence aligned with’s CS Fundamentals Series so that teachers would have a clear roadmap. This roadmap lays out where teachers should start and how they can introduce different coding concepts using Dash and Dot. The curriculum also offers cross-curricular extension activities for each Challenge Card!


The design of our Challenge Cards went through several prototypes and iterations.

Once we decided on what to build, we began creating prototypes. We designed mockups of different Challenge Cards and different box designs so we could see what would work well in classrooms.


Testing out Challenge Cards at the Boys and Girls Club in Silicon Valley

Once we developed our prototypes, we began testing the Challenge Cards in classrooms and after-school programs. We also reached out to our amazing teacher community and encouraged them to try out our prototypes in their classrooms. We took this valuable feedback and continued improving on our designs until we had a truly comprehensive, engaging, and interactive curriculum solution!

As you can see, we have had quite the journey designing our K-5 Learn to Code Curriculum. The design thinking process has helped us keep in touch with what works best for our teachers and their students. We hope our new curriculum will empower your students and encourage them to get coding with Dash and Dot!

To learn more, feel free to visit our education website:

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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.