Learning Options, Inc.'s Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program, developed by MIT, is a goal focused team competition that engages rising 6th grade through rising 9th grade students in problem solving and critical thinking, using computer programming, robotics, and space engineering to apply and explain STEM knowledge.

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 where teams program the SPHERES to solve an annual challenge. After several phases of virtual competition in a simulation environment 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!


The participants compete to win a technically challenging game by programming their strategies into the SPHERES satellites. The game is motivated by a current problem of interest to DARPA, NASA and MIT.  Student software controls satellite speed, rotation, direction of travel, etc.  Depending on the game premise, the students must program their satellites to complete game objectives (navigate obstacles, pick up virtual objects, etc.) while conserving resources (fuel, charge, etc.) and staying within specified time and code-size limits.  The programs are "autonomous" - that is, the students cannot control the satellites during the test itself. 


The  vision and mission of ZERO Robotics and its creators:

Zero Robotics lets you touch space!

  • Inspire

Zero Robotics seeks to inspire the next generation of great minds by allowing them unprecedented access to space at the high school and middle school level. By making the benefits and resources of the space program tangible to students, Zero Robotics hopes to cultivate an appreciation of science, technology, engineering and math through healthy, immersive, collaborative competition. Another major goal of Zero Robotics is to lead young minds to see the concept of working in space as "normal", allowing imaginations to go beyond the boundaries of rocket science.

  • Create a Bridge

Zero Robotics, following a mentor-driven model, brings students together with professionals while they complete a full engineering problem: designing, implementing, and operating their response to the Zero Robotics challenges.Zero Robotics seeks to be a permanent link between students and the industry leaders that work on the forefront of science and engineering. These students will in turn become the future leaders to push this frontier forward.

  • Research

All Zero Robotics competitions are tied in some way to actual space research. By using crowdsourcing and other technologies, one day Zero Robotics aims to substantively involve students in the design and testing process for space software.

Our Mission

Zero Robotics hopes to provide a unique, challenging learning environment that inspires young minds to apply and sharpen their science, technology, engineering, and math skills. Through a series of competitions starting virtually online and aboard the International Space Station, students exercise their creative problem-solving skills and take on real world design problems. With a zero cost, zero setup, web-based environment that uses the latest web technologies, Zero Robotics provides students worldwide with a testbed to carry out space experiments.


The LOI program will include 5 weeks of classes, Tuesday through Thursday, 9:00am - 2:00pm.


The program will take place at LOI's Clarksburg location 445 W. Pike St. Ste 299-A, and will include one or more offsite visits to the
NASA IV & V facility in Fairmont and/or the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center.

(*Please note that the 1st week of this program falls during the July 4th holiday week and the schedule will be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday - the remaining 4 weeks will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.)

-Participants must bring a brown bag lunch every day of camp, as well as a water bottle

-IF participants plan to take advantage of pool time, they will need to bring: a towel, swimsuit, and sunscreen. They are also welcome to bring money to purchase food from the snack bar.

-Please note that the final competition will be aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and LOI, coaches, and coordinators have no control over which day will ultimately be chosen.

(Requested dates: August 10, 11, 12, 14, 18)

-Participation fee for this program is $250 per student.

-A $50 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of registration to secure a spot on the team, with the balance of $200 due by June 30th. Limited tuition assistance is available and a link to apply is further down in this registration.

It is required that you read the LOI POLICIES before submitting registration.

Please EMAIL US for any questions about the program.

© 2017 Learning Options, Inc. 50 Mountain Park Dr., Fairmont, WV 26554