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What Can You Do with a Box?

Jul 16, 2018

How to Cultivate a Maker Mindset with Coding & Robotics

Mommy friends of mine often say that their little kids get more excited about the packaging of a gift than the toy itself inside the box! And it’s true — a cardboard box holds so many possibilities!

(Biased photo of my nephew playing in a box.)

Nowadays, when we talk about the 4Cs in learning — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity — we often tout a design thinking mindset or a “maker mindset,” which encourages learners both young and old to tinker, iterate, and fail forward. Part of the design thinking process is to prototype one’s idea — that is, bring it to life quickly in a low-res fashion with DIY materials. Stanford professor Carol Dweck emphasizes this forward-thinking behavior in her research on having a growth mindset (watch her TED Talk). These mindsets combine the best thinking around the importance of play and the value of reflection. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

At a recent educator training in the Los Angeles Unified School District, we were talking about how to gather prototyping materials in a cart, thus creating a DIY mobile makerspace, as a way to best store and share Dash & Dot robots (see examples of such carts in our blog article). Then, seeing the stacks of boxes containing the teachers’ new resources got me thinking about cardboard … lots of cardboard!

Boxes of product at LAUSD… How might they be used to turn a simple painter’s tape maze into a more elaborate obstacle course?

We began to talk about ways to use painter’s tape and paper cups to create obstacle courses for the robots, in the style of the popular TV show “American Ninja Warrior.” We discussed having students create baskets and targets to aim for, using Dash’s Launcher, out of the plethora of cardboard boxes they were about to have from their robot order. And I quickly recommended to everyone that they should watch the inspiring video “Caine’s Arcade” (fun to share with students, too!):

What a child’s imagination can do!

You can kick off your own classroom or home cardboard challenge with this popular children’s book, Not a Box. Then check out the ideas shared by the global cardboard challenge from

One of my favorite read-alouds (with very few words) by Antoinette Portis.

What makes a maker mindset? Why is a maker mindset valuable for one’s development and for future job opportunities? And who doesn’t want to be a creative problem-solver? Check out this EdSurge article, 6 Must-Haves for Developing a Maker Mindset, and read more about maker mindsets from Dale Dougherty, founder of Make Magazine. The founders of (which is not an actual school) at Stanford University wrote their mindsets, in true Silicon Valley style, on a paper napkin. A fun activity for your students or family is to come up with your own napkin mindsets or mantra!

A creation of founders George Kembel and David Kelley.

And summer is the perfect time to encourage both online and offline activities! We are promoting this with our Summer of Wonder program — 12 weeks of printable activities for Dash and Cue. Sign up to access these free downloadable packets, and you’ll also find special summer savings. Lot of creativity ideas for kids of all ages. Start saving those cardboard boxes!

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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.