What is WhiteBox Nationals?
WhiteBox Nationals is an exciting new way for students to interact with WhiteBox Learning STEM
applications. In our traditional classroom setup, the teacher selects a specification (a set of engineering
requirements) for the entire class. Students create designs for this specification only, unless the teacher
changes to a new spec manually. In WhiteBox Nationals, individual students automatically move
through five increasingly challenging levels of competition. To move up in level, students must meet or
exceed required level scores based on quiz and worksheet results, number of design iterations, and
What’s the Benefit?
There are two primary benefits of using WhiteBox Nationals.
- Research - Since level scores depend (in part) on quiz scores, students will find that they need to
work through the research materials to advance. Furthermore, since higher levels require
higher quiz scores, students will recognize that they will benefit from a more intense focus on
- Motivation - When students only compete locally, the same students often dominate the leader
board (this is particularly true in larger districts). We believe this can be demotivating for both
the students that make the leader board (they feel unchallenged) as well as those students that
never make the leader board (they feel defeated). Whitebox Nationals incentivizes all students
to keep improving.
- More advanced students will automatically move into new competitions against similarly accomplished students from other districts, states, and even internationally. Level 5 competitions will consist of highly accomplished students from all over the world.
- When students advance, they are removed from previous level competitions. This means that students that otherwise would not make the leader board will ultimately move into these positions. Not all students will make it to the most advanced levels, but we believe that all students will experience a greater sense of accomplishment.
How Do I Get Started?
Enabling WhiteBox Nationals is very easy – in fact, it’s the default option for applications that support it.
When adding an activity for your classroom, just click the “WhiteBox Nationals” checkbox.
Exiting WhiteBox Nationals (whether you prefer the traditional setup, or when it’s time to design for
your physical build) is even easier. Beside each activity, to the right of the Edit and Delete buttons,
you’ll see a dedicated button to quickly exit WhiteBox Nationals and start the build phase:
You can also de-select the checkbox for WhiteBox Nationals on the Edit activity form. We recommend
students logout and login again after switching between traditional and WhiteBox Nationals modes.
What Differences Will Students See?
If you are already familiar with a WhiteBox Learning application things will look largely the same, with
the addition of the student’s current level and a mini progress bar in the top menu. When students are
just getting started on Level 1 they’ll also see a notification that WhiteBox Nationals has been enabled.
Clicking the Level indicator will open the WhiteBox Nationals info box. Again, when first getting started,
students will see a more detailed introduction.
After clicking the Get Started button, students will see their current progress with individual progress
meters for Grades, Design Iterations, and Design Performance.
How to Progress Through Levels
Students can earn up to 250 points per level. The Grades Component provides up to 100 possible points
and is based off the total possible average for all graded lessons. For example, if there are 3 quizzes and
2 worksheets (all weighted the same) and a student has scored 90% on each lesson, the student will
earn 90 points for the grades component. The Iterations Component is worth up to 50 points. Each in-spec design iteration that is saved and tested will earn 5 points. To earn the full 50 points for this
component, students would need to save 10 design iterations. However, many students may not need
to revise their design 10 times to reach a high enough total score since the Performance Component is
worth up to 100 points. The performance score is automatically calculated by comparing a student’s
design with a benchmark for the level. In other words, if a design achieves 85% of the best possible
outcome (i.e. race time, capacity, etc.) the student will earn a score of 85.
Some levels will have individual section requirements. For example, in the scenario above students
must score at least 180 points combined from all three categories, and at least 25 out of a possible 50
points in the Design Iterations category. The 180-point minimum total score has been met, but the
student has only created three iterations worth five points each, so two more iterations are needed to
meet the iterations component requirement.
While iterations and performance scores reset after leveling-up, grades scores are carried over from
level to level. Since grade scores are such an important part of WhiteBox Nationals and a student’s
opportunity to advance, students can retake a quiz or worksheet to improve their score. When quiz
results are displayed and the quiz score is less than 100%, students will see a Retake button:
Considering that quizzes and worksheets are interactive and explain the solution, even after answering
the question incorrectly, a second attempt will result in taking a conceptually similar quiz with different
questions that cover the same material. Students are limited to one retake, so be sure to re-read the
material and have a clear understanding before trying again! Ideally students will carefully read through
all the research materials before trying to advance in levels, but higher levels will enforce this by
requiring a minimum total level score that will inherently need all quizzes and worksheet to be
completed to earn a high enough grades score.
What’s the Endgame?
Hard working students who make it to Level 5 will qualify for a national competition based on their total
design performance scores from all 5 levels. They’ll first want to score as high as possible on the Level 5
challenge but may also go back to any level and make improvements to their designs and aim for the full 100 points from the performance component score. Level 5 students can jump to and from any level by
clicking the “Go to Level” buttons on the WhiteBox Nationals detail screen.
Not all students will make it to Level 5, but they should keep working on improving designs and
understanding the research material as best as possible. All students will put their knowledge to the
test when it’s time to exit WhiteBox Nationals and start the build phase.
What Differences Will the Teacher See?
Your Teacher Control Center will look very similar to the traditional manually selected specification
mode. On the classroom progress page (from the Monitor tab), you’ll see the progress charts that are
present in traditional mode, and you’ll also see a table with students grouped by current level. The
table shows each student’s current level, scores for the grades, iterations, and performance components
for the level, and the time since the student was last active in WhiteBox Nationals. The progress bars
are color coded to indicate progress towards level requirements and show a vertical bar to indicate the
required total points for the student’s current level.
You can also click the “show detailed view” link for a more detailed table that shows each student’s
individual level scores.
The individual student detail page also shows current level progress and level history information, in
addition to the normal information displayed on this page in traditional mode.