Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Inspiring students, one robot at a time.

Reverse Engineering Challenge - High School

VEX Robotics competitors design and create complex machines and elaborate code, but don’t usually get to see the technology and components inside the electronics they use in the classroom and competitions. Entries for this challenge will explore the inner workings of an electronic device at a part-by-part level.

Choose an electronic device, carefully deconstruct it, and catalog the parts you find inside. As you go, document your process and findings with text and images. Conduct online research on the components you discover, and try to identify their roles within the electronic system. Your submission will tell us what you learned by taking a closer look inside and reverse engineering a complex electronic device.

Visit this link for a printable summary of this challenge.


Grade Level Requirements
Elementary School Middle School High School College / University No Grade Level Restrictions
Program Requirements
VEX V5 Robotics Competition VEX AI Competition - High School


One (1) Winner: $500 VEX Robotics gift certificate; if the winning entry is from a VRC team that has competed in their program with a physical robot during their competition season, they will also receive an automatic qualification to the 2024 VEX World Championships

Four (4) Finalists: $100 VEX Robotics gift certificate

Finalists and winners will be selected at each of the following grade levels, for a total of two (2) prize packages:

  • Middle School

  • VRC High School


Teams must be part of a registered VEX Robotics team for the current season.

  • This page is for High School entries only - if you are any other program or grade level, please refer to the Online Challenge listings to find the correct page for your program and grade level.

  • Only one entry per team is permitted. However, each team in a multi-team school or club program may submit one entry. For example, teams 123A and 123B could each submit an entry, but team 123A could not submit two entries. Entries must vary in content and presentation to be considered separate entries. 

  • Entries submitted in previous years’ Online Challenges are not eligible for submission this year.

By uploading a submission to an REC Foundation Online Challenge, you agree to follow the Submission Guidelines and certify that you understand the Intellectual Property Rights held by you and the REC Foundation regarding your submission. Please review the Submission Guidelines and Intellectual Property Rights information at this link before uploading your submission.


Challenge Details

Explore and document the inner workings of an electronic device. Your submission should use a combination of text and images to document and describe what you find inside an electronic device. We challenge you to choose a device you don’t mind breaking apart (for example, an old phone) then carefully deconstruct it to see what’s inside. Identify and research the components,try to determine what role they serve in the device’s design, and summarize your findings and lessons learned in a report.

Things to keep in mind for a successful submission:

  • For safety purposes, make sure the device you choose is approved by your coach, mentor, or parent as appropriate.

  • Extreme caution should be used with capacitors, which may hold a charge.

  • Any power sources or batteries must be disconnected or removed before deconstruction.

  • You must wear safety glasses during the deconstruction process.

  • What kind of device did you choose to explore, and why?

  • What identifiable parts did you find during deconstruction?

  • What role does each component play in the system?

  • What did you learn from exploring your electronic device?

Minimum Requirements

A submission must meet these minimum requirements in order to be judged.

  1. Entry is created and produced solely by student team members. It is acceptable for adults to assist with downloading any necessary resources where students may need permission.

  2. Format: One PDF file (up to 20MB) that includes all content, including images.

  3. Size: Summary report up to 500 words, including title page, findings, and lessons learned. Judges may use a software-based word counter such as to verify word counts. [Note on February 28, 2024: It has come to our attention that this criterion was vague and subject to multiple valid interpretations. All entries were judged on how well they met the challenge rubric and the other requirements, disregarding word count. We apologize for this confusion, and have planned adjustments for all challenges next season.]

  4. Title Page:  Each entry must include a title page that includes:

    • Title of submission

    • Names of students who participated (using first names only is acceptable)

    • Team number 

    • Location of team

Upload Instructions

Note: Beginning with the 2023-24 season, challenge entries must be uploaded by the primary contact for a registered team. This individual should ensure that the submission meets all requirements and criteria before uploading.

  1. Click the green Submit an Entry button on the right side of the screen.

  2. Fill out the submission form and add an optional description of the entry to the Short Description field.

  3. Ensure you are entering the correct team number and letter, with no spaces.

  4. Click Save.

  5. Click the blue Files /Images button in the upper right of the screen.

  6. Drag/drop your PDF file into the Upload a File box, then refresh if needed to view file details below the Upload a File box.

  7. Edit the Display Name and file information to include your entry title and your team number; for example, "Reverse Engineering Challenge entry, team 007x."

  8. Click on Save to record your edits.

Judging Information

  • Up to 5 points for an introduction identifying the electronic device selected, and why it was chosen

  • Up to 5 points for a summary of the components found inside the device, and research findings of what the components do and the roles they play in the system

  • Up to 5 points for a conclusion describing the lessons learned from this project

  • Up to 5 points for clear presentation of findings and organization of content

  • Up to 5 points for the quality and readability of the writing, including spelling, grammar, and sentence structure

  • Up to 5 points for the quality and thoroughness of images used to document the project

Deadline Information

Current time:
Wed, Jul 24, 2024 7:05 AM CDT


Wed, Nov 1, 2023 12:00 AM CDT


Wed, Jan 31, 2024 4:00 PM CST