3 Ideas for Creating a Wonder League Robotics Competition Gridded Mat

Buy It, Print It, Make It!

The WLRC has launched — and we mean literally, as this year’s theme takes Dash and Dot to space! In order to set the stage for all three missions back down here on Earth, your teams will need a 5 x 8 square grid with the following specifications:

  • sized 150 cm x 240 cm (think landscape format)
  • Y-axis is labeled A-E and X-axis is labeled 1–8
  • Cell A1 is in lower left-hand corner
  • Dash needs to be able to roll across and not have anything interfere with its wheels

This year, we at Wonder Workshop are not selling a mat for the Wonder League Robotics Competition. If you purchased a mat for last year’s competition, you can use the same mat again — the dimensions are the same, and the theme is applicable.

For those of you in need of a grid, here are three basic options:

OPTION 1: BUY ONE: The producer of last year’s mats is selling a mat to this year’s competition’s specifications. You can find out more details on Robotmats.com. Just note: Robotmats.com is an independent party; we are not responsible for any issues with the design, quality, or shipping.

Robotmats.com is also selling a mat with a chroma-key green background — can you say green screen?!? This clever idea came from #WLRC coach, Mrs. Eckstein. Robotmats responded and created this video for coaches to check out the idea. Thanks, Mrs. Eckstein and Robotmats!

OPTION 2: PRINT ONE: This year, we’ve provided a digital image of the mat on Edmodo, and we created it in two colors: black or white. If you want to print this file, you will need to find a sign or banner printer — check out retailers like Staples, Office Depot, FedEx/Kinko’s, Vistaprint.com, Signs.com or Esigns.com, which has a self-print option. You’ll need to tell them that you have:

  • a black and white “.eps file”
  • an image that is 165 cm x 255 cm (accounts for 7.5-cm border)

Your choice! Both digital .eps files are available in the FOLDERS section on Edmodo

We recommend printing on 13 oz. vinyl — it will lie flat but can be rolled for storage. Other options for materials include 24 lb. paper (but do consider longevity needs) or foam board (but do consider space constraints). Find the eps file in the Wonder League Coaches Folders tab on Edmodo.

OPTION 3: MAKE ONE: We are big fans of this option! And we have seen so many do-it-yourself (DIY) ideas. If you have the space, you can use painter’s tape and create a grid on the floor or on a rug. Done!

We recently heard that one classroom teacher took her small 5 x 8 area rug, flipped it over, and created a grid on the back with painter’s tape. She created a two-in-one: a rug for class time and a grid for robot time!

Painters tape on the underside of an area rug!

Many, though, want something that they can move because of lack of space. Options for a portable gridded mat include making one on a piece of vinyl, a plastic tarp, a drop cloth, or a shower curtain.

Image shared in our Coaches’ Cohort by WLRC Coach Cristina Mota

The total size of the grid should be 150 cm x 240 cm, which includes grid lines. So you can use a paint pen, Sharpie, or thin painter’s tape for the lines. If you’re using tape, just center it on the measurement hash marks. It’s up to you to decide if you want a border or not.

Used a yard stick (in cm), paint pen, and plastic tarp, and first created a squared-off border since the tarp wasn’t quite even on the edges. Then added hash marks to mark 30 cm horizontally and vertically as guides for the grid lines. Last, added A-E on y-axis and 1–8 label on x-axis (A1 in lower left-hand corner).

If you want to use painter’s tape for your grid lines, center the tape over any guiding lines or hashmarks. Then you’re still guaranteed to have 30-cm squares.

Coach Natalie Oberbeck recently shared this back-saving method for making a grid on a felt-backed tablecloth. She made a transparency out of the white mat image, and then projected it on the wall using an overhead projector. She then used a yard stick to trace straight lines on the tablecloth she taped to the wall (Natalie recommends getting a piece larger than the grid size to allow for “fudging”!)

Thanks for the clever idea, Natalie Oberbeck!

We also found this tutorial online from a U.K. coach: http://www.techagekids.com/2016/09/wonder-league-robotics-competition-diy.html

And don’t forget to get creative with this year’s outer space theme. We find that the more the teams are into the theme and the story, the more holistic the learning experience becomes. As Mission One Logbook details, your teams are helping Dash explore a newly discovered Space Island in the hopes of building a cosmic community. Consider having your teams get clever in customizing their gridded mat. Here are some ideas:

  • Ask your team to brainstorm about outer space. First, they could paint planets, stars, etc., all over the mat. Then, they could layer tape or paint grid lines on top of the space backdrop.
  • Work together to place the painter’s tape down on the mat. Ask your team to paint ALL over the mat’s surface. Maybe create a topographical mat depicting what your team thinks the Space Island’s surface might look like. Then peel off the tape to reveal a grid of the material showing from underneath the painting.
  • Look on Pinterest for space or mat art ideas. Your team could use sponge or potato stamps for shapes like stars. Your team could blow paint with straws or flick paintbrushes for a cosmic effect. Dare I suggest glitter? Your team could decorate the edges with embellishments like ancient maps used to have. Get clever!

Check out our Pinterest board for artistic inspiration!

Check out the PINTEREST BOARD we created for the WLRC: https://www.pinterest.com/TeachWonder/space-map-inspired-art-for-wlrc-mats/

Have fun embarking on this interstellar journey with your teams and with Dash & Dot! And share your photos within the Coaches’ Cohorts on Edmodo.com.

If you haven’t registered already, it’s not too late! Registration closes Dec. 31, and you have until Feb. 16 to finish all the challenges in Mission One, Mission Two, and Mission Three. Join us!


Posted on:

Sep 15, 2017

Posted by:

Darri Stephens

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