Once you have started a VIQC team or teams and have received your VIQC parts, field, and other materials, you are ready to start practicing. Whether you have one team or several, each will need some space to build and practice with their robot.
- After school clubs can meet in a classroom, gym, library, or other open space.
- Robotics classes with associated teams might have dedicated classrooms.
- Private/community clubs can meet in a living room, basement, garage, public library, or office space.
Shared Space, or Dedicated?
VIQC teams are as varied as the students who join them. Some teams are school-sponsored, some are formed through youth organizations like BSA and Girl Scout Troops, and others are groups of neighborhood friends and families. Each type of team has the same general space requirements for practice and storage, but some types of teams must share that space with other classes, clubs, or organizations.
Your space plan will have to consider whether you can leave the VIQC field, game set, robots, and parts out in the open between team practices, or whether all or part of your equipment will have to be cleaned up and stashed away after each team meeting.
In a shared space, you need to consider whether open shelving is enough to store or protect the robots and parts; in a shared classroom, locking built-in or rolling storage cabinets might be a great idea.
Depending on the seasonal game challenge, it may be possible to pack up the field and the game elements and lean the field against the wall or in a storage area at the end of each practice. Some teams come up with creative solutions like fields on lifts, tilted fields on rolling carts, or fields that roll under large classroom tables; be creative! That said, some large game sets may make this prohibitive; teams will have to spend time assembling and disassembling field elements if they can’t be stored in an assembled state. If your practice time is already limited, this can be a real negative. Having a place large enough to store a field with elements attached can save a lot of time.
Teams with dedicated spaces might benefit from building VIQC field risers, and many designs provide storage space underneath. There’s not an official product available, but there are many community-created options that coaches are willing to share. Several examples are available in the ‘Files’ section of the VEX IQ World wide Coaches Association group on Facebook, or you can put together your own version with thick plywood and tall buckets.
How Much Build Space Do You Need?
The first thing your team will want to do is build a robot, and they’ll need an open, flat work surface that is large enough for all team members to help with the build. A build area can be as simple as a shared table or a group of individual student work desks that are pushed together. In many classroom setups, work surfaces have to be completely cleared of parts at the end of each practice; you’ll want to consider this as you choose where teams will build.
How Much Practice Space Do You Need?
Students need to test and practice with their robot, and they’ll want to do that on an official VIQC field to ensure they’re ready to compete at tournaments. If you have a single team, you’ll only need one field. If you have multiple teams, you might need to consider having multiple fields so all teams are able to fine-tune their programs and practice driving during their meetings.
Each VIQC field is 6’x8’ and needs to have some open space around it so students can comfortably fit around the perimeter (or at least stand along one long side of the field). If needed, a VIQC field can fit into the corner of a classroom or other workspace. Because the VIQC field is hard plastic, it can sit on either a hard or carpeted floor–as long as that floor is reasonably level!
How Much Storage Space Do You Need?
Storage space needs will vary based on the number of teams and robots. A single team might only need space for a VEX IQ Competition Kit and an in-progress robot. A multi-team club’s storage needs will be larger, especially as the club ages and accumulates additional parts!
Most of the VEX IQ components can be stored in the storage containers that come with kits. The containers that come with the 2nd generation VEX IQ Competition Kits are compact and stackable, and are a big step up from the 1st generation bins. They make it easy to put parts away, notice missing parts, and help students remain organized while building. If you can’t get your hands on these newer VEX IQ kits, you can get simple tool organizers from your local hardware store.
If you’re in a shared space, you’ll have to plan for secure storage of everything your teams use during practice, and ensure that everything is safely packed away before students leave. This includes parts, storage bins, robots, engineering notebooks, game elements, field elements, and the VIQC playing field. VIQC robots that are built for competition are compact, and generally have to fit into a space that’s 15” tall, 11-13” deep, and 19” wide. A VIQC game field is 6’x8’, and 3” high without field elements. The heights and sizes of field elements for seasonal game challenges vary widely, but they typically fit within the 6’x8’ horizontal space of the game field.
- VIQC classroom and storage at Team 32092: Stargate Charter Academy
- Raised VIQC field at Team 32092: Stargate Charter Academy
- VIQC storage at Team 32092: Stargate Charter Academy