Texas Tech University

GEAR - Get Excited About Robotics



GEAR provides an exciting hands-on LEGO robotics challenge to elementary and middle school students at no participation fee, with the goal of increasing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines while offering mentoring opportunities to engineering undergraduate students at Texas Tech University in an effort to improve their education and increase retention rates.

GEAR itself (found at www.gearrobotics.org) is a nonprofit 401(c)(3) volunteer organization that was created to foster interest among today's youth in engineering, science, and technology. It provides the game rules for the annual competition with instructions on how to build game tables and where to purchase game elements. GEAR also maintains a Question and Answer section on its website. GEAR tournaments are held at various locations listed on the GEAR website.

The TTU GEAR tournament is held annually in during the spring semester. It is open to students in grades K-8 from all schools / after school clubs that are sponsored by a teacher or coach. Sign-up of individual students is not possible. The competition challenge changes annually, but a set of general rules remains the same every year.

The tournament offers a large degree of flexibility in how and to what extent schools / after school clubs want to participate in the competition. In the past, some schools offered LEGO robotics as an after-school activity, while others incorporated the activity into their math, science, technology, or gifted and talented GT classes. Teams meet between once a week after school to five days a week in class. Each participating team must have a LEGO Spike Prime, EV3 or NXT robotics kit and access to a computer/laptop in order to program their robot.

The Challenge and the Robot

During the 6 - 8 week long GEAR challenge elementary and middle student teams design, construct, and program robots using the LEGO SPIKE Prime kits or the older LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3/NXT kits, which contain structural elements, wheels, axles, gears, motors, sensors, and a simple microprocessor with a rechargeable battery. Programming of the robot is accomplished through an intuitive graphical user interface patterned after the widely-popular Scratch software. Communication between the robot's microprocessor and the computer is done through Bluetooth or a computer's USB port. 

The annually changing challenge is designed around a fictive story that motivates the need for autonomous robots (i.e. a robot operating in Antarctica, constructing a moon post, or performing surgery). To solve the challenge, students learn engineering skills through a teaming exercise in designing, building, programming, testing, and troubleshooting their wheeled LEGO robots. These robots then compete autonomously in two-minute matches on a 4-by-4-foot game field.


2024 GEAR Tournament Season- Registration will open in November 


We offering in-person and remote competition events to cater to both, teams who want to participate in an exciting competition event held on a Saturday together with many other teams and teams who do not want to travel or have conflicts during the competition weekends.  A school/robotics program may participate in both formats but a single student may only compete in one of the competitions (in-person or remote).  Schools/robotics programs may participate with a maximum of 8 teams per age group (elementary school division: K-5th grade, middle school division: 6th-8th grade).

We will offer five different leagues (Amarillo, Frenship, Lubbock, Midland, remote) with dates shown below.  There will be Playoffs for the best teams from all leagues, including the remote teams. Teams will receive their game mats and game elements during the kickoff event. 

Remote teams are responsible for picking up their game mats and elements from Texas Tech University campus or purchase their own.

We will keep two components from last year's remote competition:

  • The highest score from trial run (video submission or event participation) will count towards the total score recorded at game day
  • Teams who wish to compete for the Young Engineeer's Award will need to submit an Engineering Design Process video 1 week prior to game day (it's score will only count toward the Young Engineer Award). There will no longer be an essay component.

Tournament Events:

The dates for the different leagues are as follows:

Amarillo league: (should this league sell out, Amarillo ISD teams will receive preferential treatment)

Kickoff:            Saturday, February 3, 2024 at Sam Houston Middle School  

Trial Run:        Saturday, March 2, 2024 at Sam Houston Middle School

Game Day:      Saturday, April 13, 2024 at Sam Houston Middle School


Frenship league: (should this league sell out, Frenship ISD teams will receive preferential treatment)

Kickoff:            Saturday, January 20, 2024, at the Frenship High School Performing Arts Center

Trial Run:        Saturday, February 24, 2024, at the Frenship 9th Grade Center

Game Day:      Saturday, March 23, 2024, at the Frenship 9th Grade Center    


Lubbock league: (should this league sell out, Lubbock ISD teams will receive preferential treatment)

Kickoff:            Saturday, January 27, 2024, at the TTU Biology Lecture

Trial Run:         Saturday, March 2, 2024, at Lubbock High School

Game Day:      Saturday, April 6, 2024, at Lubbock High School


Midland league: (should this league sell out, Midland ISD and Permian Bassin teams will receive preferential treatment)

Kickoff:            Saturday, February 3, 2024, at Carver Center Elementary School

Trial Run:        Saturday, March 2, 2024, at Carver Center Elementary School

Game Day:       Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Carver Center Elementary School


Remote League:

Kickoff:           Wednesday, January 24, 2024, on Zoom

Trial Run:       Submit video of best robot game performance by Friday March 1, 2024

Game Day:      Schedule Game Day during the time frame of March 24 - 30, 2024


The best teams from all leagues will be invited to participate in playoffs. More information on how to qualify for playoffs will be provided during the kickoff event.


Championship:     Saturday, April 20, 2024, location TBD


Registration is open and will close at December 16, 2022 at 5 :00 pm. Register online here.

Mailing List

We regularly send out information and updates regarding the TTU GEAR tournament using Google Groups. If you are interested in receiving emails regarding the TTU GEAR tournament, please ask to join our Google Group; https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/gear-ttu

Click on the following links to find out more:

Virtual GEAR

▶ Lego® Robotics Field Trips

Teacher resources (including how to start a LEGO robotics club)

Media Coverage


Dr. Tanja Karp
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 79409-3102

Derek Johnston
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 79409-3102

Heather Sherrill
Whitacre College of Engineering STEM Administrator 
Texas Tech University 
Office of the Dean of Engineering 
Lubbock, TX 79409−3103 

Texas Tech GEAR Sponsors

sme Whitacre College of Engineering