2023 Middle School Summer Program
Sponsored By:





Program Overview

Zero Robotics 2023 is an inspiring program for middle school students that is truly out of this world! The five-week STEM curriculum introduces students to computer programming, robotics, and space engineering, and provides hands-on experience programming Astrobee Satellites. Zero Robotics 2023 is provided through a partnership between the MIT Space Enabled Research Group, the Innovation Learning Center, the Aerospace Corporation, the ISS National Laboratory, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, (NASA), National Science Foundation, STEMX365 and Aurora Flight Science: a Boeing Company. Zero Robotics seeks to inspire our next generation of great minds by allowing them unprecedented access to space at the middle school level. By making the benefits and resources of the International Space Station tangible to students, Zero Robotics hopes to cultivate an appreciation of science, technology, engineering and math through healthy, immersive, collaborative competition.


Student participants compete to win a technically challenging game by programming their strategies into an Astrobee Satellite. Students’ programs control the satellites' speed, rotation, and direction of travel. The students program their satellites to complete competition objectives like 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. 

NASA’s next-generation free-flyer, Astrobee, replaces the previously used hardware used for Zero Robotics, the SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hole Engage Reorient Experimantal Satellites).

Students will create, edit, save, and simulate projects online. They will 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.

Summer 2023 Schedule

The ZR program will run from June 26 – August 4, 2023. This competition will be in-person at your respective sites (with online/virtual flexibility) based on teacher and location availability. We suggest 10 to 15hrs/week to ensure students are getting the best experience.

Weekly Schedule

June 26 - June 30, 2023 (Week I)

July 3 - July 7, 2023 (Week II)

July 10 - July 14, 2023 (Week III)

July 17 - July 21, 2023 (Week IV)

July 24 - July 28, 2023 (Week V)

July 31 – August 4, 2023 (Week VI – FINALS WEEK)

Key Dates

July 3rd - 7th - Field Day at your local site – to be determined locally.

July 10th - Practice Code Deadline (submitted online - (Monday: 5pm local time)

July 11th - Virtual Career Day hosted by Aerospace Corporation

July 14th – Round One Code Deadline (submitted online) - (Friday: 5pm local time)

July 17th – Alliance Announcements (Monday: 2pm Eastern Time)

July 17th to 21st - Alliance Code Development

July 21st - ISS Code Deadline (submitted online - Friday: 5pm local time)

August 3rd - LIVE International Space Station Finals (date subject to change by NASA)

How To Participate & Application

Selection will be based on a team’s capacity to deliver high quality programming or based on their previous history with Zero Robotics and its partners. Space is limited and notifications will be made on a rolling basis beginning April 14th.

If you wish to participate, you must complete this Application/Letter of Commitment via THIS FORM by May 1, 2023. Please contact Katie Magrane of the Innovation Learning Center at Katie@MassILC.com with any questions. If you need to request an extension for applying, you may do so by emailing Katie@MassILC.com.

Educator Training

Zero Robotics provides educators with the necessary training and ongoing technical support needed to provide middle school students with an experiential learning opportunity in computer programming. Zero Robotics builds critical engineering skills, including problem-solving, and teamwork. It connects students with prominent scientists and encourages them to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and/or math.

You can begin planning and preparing questions for the training by viewing the middle school curriculum guide found here: http://d1bomxhyt3btnq.cloudfront.net/docs/ms/EducatorGuide.pdf

2023 National Training Sessions

Training for the Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program is provided in a two-part sequence by the Innovation Learning Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   Both sessions are currently scheduled to be held online.

Part 1:  Tuesday June 6, 2023

9am to 12pm (PST) - 10am to 1pm (MST) - 12pm to 3pm (EST)

Part 2:  Thursday June 8, 2023

9am to 12pm (PST) - 10am to 1pm (MST) - 12pm to 3pm (EST)

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please email Katie@MassILC.com – fees may apply


By participating in the 2023 Summer Program of Zero Robotics, each participant agrees that under no circumstances, including, but not limited to, negligence, shall MIT, its partners, or the Sponsors, or their respective officers, directors, employees, shareholders, agents, successors, and assigns (the "Released Parties") be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, or consequential damages arising out of participation in the Zero Robotics Program, even if any or all of the Released Parties have been advised of the possibility of such damages.

Participation by creating accounts and/or submitting an application and/or submitting code and/or attendance at trainings constitutes Contestant's full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of the Zero Robotics Program Rules. All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply.