2024 Middle School Summer Program
Sponsored By:





Program Overview

Zero Robotics 2024 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 2024 is provided through a partnership between the MIT Media Lab’s 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 Experimental 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 2024 Schedule

The ZR program will run from June 24 – August 2, 2024. 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

Week 1.    June 24 - June 28, 2024
Week 2.    July 1 - July 5, 2024
Week 3.    July 8 - July 12, 2024
Week 4.    July 15 - July 19, 2024
Week 5.    July 22 - July 26, 2024
Week 6.    July 29 - August 2, 2024 (Finals Week)

Your school/program has flexibility in terms of when and how you meet!  Zero Robotics takes place in YOUR community. Whether you meet in-person, online or offer a hybrid program, once you register, you recruit local students and create your own weekly schedule.


Important Events, Dates & Code Deadlines

July 5 Practice Code Deadline (submitted online - Friday: 5pm local time)

July 8 – 12 Field Day Week - to be determined locally*

July 10 Career Day - Hosted by Aerospace Corporation (Link to Aerospace Career Day Recording)

July 15 Round One Code Deadline (submitted online - Monday: 12pm local time)

July 16 Alliance Announcements  (Link to Zoom Webinar @ Tuesday: 1pm EST)

July 16 – 21 Alliance Code Development

July 22 ISS/Final Code Deadline (submitted online - Monday: 5pm local time)

July 31 International Space Station Finals** 

Please Note that some of the Code Deadlines are subject to change if the ISS live finals date changes.

*MIT Field Day (New England Teams) – July 18th 9:30 to 2:30 pm

*SCU Field Day (Southern Cali Teams) – TBD

*NASA Ames Field Day (Northern Cali) – TBD

*FSU Field Day (West Virginia Teams) – TBD

**Live finals date/time 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 29, 2024. 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.


2024 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 4, 2024 - Self Guided Study (please refer to email for assignments and requirements)

Part 2:  Thursday June 6, 2024

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


Please email Katie@MassILC.com with questions or special training requests.
All potential instructors, mentors and assistants should attend and pre-register using the link above.
Part 3: Wednesday June 12th  POST TRAINING Q&A - (12pm EST) - Link provided at Part 2.



By participating in the 2024 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.