RoboPlay Challenge Competition

RoboPlay activity with students

(Click to see more pictures on RoboPlay Challenge Competition.)

RoboPlay Challenge Competition is a theme-based level playing field robotics competition for students in grades 5-12. It is designed for student teams, based on their math skill levels, to showcase their real-world math problem solving skills in a competitive environment. This competition simulates a real-world problem, such as space exploration, search and rescue operation, and manufacturing and automation, where a robotic solution must be quickly developed and deployed, using only existing resources with the constraint of the time. The competition challenges students to creatively use modular robots and accessories to complete various tasks. The competition arena and specific challenges will be unknown to participants until the day of the competition. Using their math, programming, and problem solving skills, student teams try to most efficiently obtain the highest score for each task on their own.

Divisions (2019- ):

  • Division A – Students in grades 9-12. One or more student on the team is currently enrolled in or has completed: Algebra 2 / Integrated Math 3 or above
  • Division B –  Students in grades 9-12. All students are currently enrolled in or the highest level they have completed: Algebra 1 / Geometry / Integrated Math 1 / Integrated Math 2
  • Division  C – Students in grades 7-8
  • Division  D – Students in grades 5-6

Divisions (2013-2018):

  • Division  1 – Students in grades 5-8
  • Division 2 –  Students in grades 9-14. All students are currently enrolled in or the highest level they have completed: Algebra 1 / Geometry / Integrated Math 1 / Integrated Math 2
  • Division 3   Students in grades 9-14. One or more student on the team is currently enrolled in or has completed: Algebra 2 / Integrated Math 3 or above


  • All team members must be enrolled in a K-12 school.
  • Each team must have 3 – 5 participants.
  • Each teacher who advises the students can sponsor up to 2 teams.
  • The sponsoring teacher must be present and register the team on the day of competition.


  • Each team must use the same robotics equipment — RoboPlay Complete Kit  and 2019 RoboPlay Supplementary Pack.  Some examples of how to use these accessories can be found here.
  • Each team must bring its own robots and accessories for the competition
  • Each team must use their own laptops.
  • There will be no internet access during the competition.

Software / Programming:

  • All challenge tasks must be completed using a computer program (no tilt drive or copycat mode allowed).
  •  Programs for controlling the robots must be written in Ch, C/C++ interpreter, and run in ChIDE in Windows or Mac machines.
  •  Teams may not interact with their running program unless explicitly required in the challenge text.

Unique Characteristics of RoboPlay Challenge Competition:

  • Curriculum-based competition with a focus on math.
  • A level playing field competition, challenges revealed on the day of competition. Only student teams complete challenge tasks without any outside help. Each team uses the same robotics equipment and software.
  • Using multiple Linkbot robots during the competition.
  • Controlling robots in Ch, a C/C++ interpreter Ch using ChIDE  in Windows or Mac machines.
  • 3 – 5 Elementary School, Middle School,  and High School students per team

Award Categories

  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners for each division (regional and state)
  • Spirit Award  for each division in each region
  • Teamwork Award  for each division in each region
  • Perseverance Award for each division in each region

RoboPlay Competition is a level playing field robotics competition. Any team, including teams participating the first time, as shown here can win.

Comments from Student Participants:

“I learned that people worked better more as a team and reached their goal because of that. Teamwork was especially important for this competition because the teammates took each others’ ideas and somehow incorporated it into their challenge. As a student, I learned that it’s okay to lose or not be 1st. We all worked hard on this competition no matter how stressful we think it is.”

“I learned that you can never be too prepared for this competition. No matter how much you practice, you will never be prepared enough for all of the challenges and problem solving you have to go through.”

“I learned that you have to work hard to win, and you might not win all the time. I also learned that it is important to have strategies and be cooperative with your teammates.”

“What I liked most about the competition was our working area and how it strengthened teamwork.”

“The challenges were very thought provoking and required a lot of time to figure out. I liked that a lot.  I loved the theme and the math involved within them.It was really fun to figure out, but wasn’t too easy.”

Comments from Teacher Advisers of Student Teams:

“I like the thrill of seeing the students work together to solve the challenge tasks.”

“Watching the students absolutely engaged in their projects the entire time. Having the repeated opportunities to try their code is such a motivator.”

“It gave my students a greater understanding of and reason to use their programming skills.”

“I liked each team’s resilience, steadfast work ethic and perseverance as well as their grace and professionalism in thanking the judges even when things didn’t go their way. Everyone left feeling they did their best, that it was worthwhile and that they would do it again.”

“I really like how the competition pushes students to innovate as well as use their computing skills.”

“I love this competition! I really like that students have to collaborate in order to be successful–they have to help each other and be supportive. It also allows them to be creative and logical at the same time.”

“Seeing that my students were well-prepared for the challenges, for the most part. It validates the efforts I have put in this year.”

“It is always a great final end project to my club.”

“I like the format where students/teachers do not know that tasks beforehand.”

“I loved seeing how well the students worked together and how they persevered when they didn’t meet a challenge on the first try.”

Host RoboPlay Challenge in Your School and District

Based on the previous RoboPlay Challenge Competition brochures and solution videos, as well as  Competition Mats, you can easily host your own RoboPlay Challenge. Many schools and districts host their local RoboPlay Challenge for their K-12 students. Some high school teachers along with their students through service learning and industrial partners also host RoboPlay Challenge for middle and elementary school students in their school districts. You can tailor challenges for your students based on your school/district setting and student background.

For example, as reported in the ABC news, Northwest Local School District in Cincinnati, Ohio has hosted such a RoboPlay Challenge each year for their students at the end of academic year for the past several years.