The Middle School Zero Robotics season is revving up this year and the game looks to be intense.  You’ll have to wait for the official release of the game to learn more!  So stay tuned…

What is Middle School Zero Robotics?

Zero Robotics is a robotics programming competition where the robots are SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) inside the International Space Station. The competition starts online, at, where teams program the SPHERES to solve an annual challenge. After several phases of virtual competition in a simulation environment, using Scratch coding, that mimics the real SPHERES, finalists are selected to compete in a live championship aboard the ISS. An astronaut will conduct the championship competition in microgravity with a live broadcast!

I want to sign up!

To register for Middle School Zero Robotics please use this form.  Or copy and paste the following link:

How does the competition/game work?

Student participants compete to win a technically challenging game by programming their strategies into the SPHERES. Students’ programs control the satellites’ speed, rotation, and direction of travel. The students program their satellites to complete competition objectives, for example navigating obstacles, while conserving resources such as fuel. The programs are autonomous – that is, the students are not able to directly control the satellites while they are running.

Each year’s game is motivated by a problem of interest to NASA and MIT.  The 2018 game is still to be announced!

Students create, edit, save, and simulate projects online. They use a graphical editor to write code, then simulate their programs immediately and see the results using a simulation. The programming interface and simulation are entirely web-based, so ZR does not require any software downloads or computer configuration. The system even allows teams to compete against themselves so that they can test different strategies before finalizing their competition submissions.

What is the time frame for the 2018 competition?

WV operates during session II.  Below are the dates in which our competitions will take place.  Please note that the Finals competition aboard the ISS is TBD.  That’s because the robots are on the ISS.  Dates can be difficult to coordinate perfectly for the ISS.

Session 2:  July 9, 2018 – August 10 *, 2018 – Key Dates


July 9   Start of Session 2
Date TBD (July 13-17) Field Day
July 20 (Fri), 5:00pm local time Practice Code Deadline
July 27 (Fri), 5:00 pm local time Regional Code Deadline
Aug 2 (Thu), 5:00 pm local time ISS Code Deadline
August 10 ISS Finals


How much does Middle School Zero Robotics cost?

It is FREE!  To participate in Zero it is FREE.  Things to keep in mind when it comes to cost:

  • There will be a “Field Day” option around the 2nd week of the tournament in the High Tech Corridor, Fairmont, WV, where teams will meet, celebrate, and take part in a STEM carnival, which may mean needing travel funds.
  • If your team decides to travel to the Finals tournament in Fairmont, WV there may be some travel costs accrued there as well.
  • Snacks!  Your team will definitely need snacks and drinks during meeting times.
  • The Educator Curriculum does have some lesson plans included that may require graph paper or a few other small items.


Who can participate?

All you need to do to get started is (1) find a team of 5-20 students and a mentor, (2) create an account and (3) register your team for a tournament.  The Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program is recommended for middle school students who are rising 6th graders through rising 9th graders.  Teams are typically 10-20 students.   Due to the complexities of programming in space within the context of a middle school summer program, the Middle School Summer Program is available to selected middle-school aged teams in areas where youth serving summer programs have been selected.



I want to sign up!

To register for Middle School Zero Robotics please use this form.  Or copy and paste the following link:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your state coordinators for this season:

Michael Lyden: