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The Robot Gets a Brain - Day 1

Discovery Experience 4 – The Robot Gets a BrainThe students will understand how robots work and what they can do by learning how to write a simple program

Time Allotment: 3 days

Day 1: (Introduction to programming)

Materials Needed:

  1. Room to move
  2. Mindstorm software
  3. Lego robot (built yesterday)


  1. To review, students share their drawings of the robot parts in their journal with their table partner.
  2. Definition of programming: “telling a robot exactly what to do step-by-step”
  3. Simple student programming:
    1. Have one student stand up.
    2. Tell the rest of the class they want to get the student from one part of the classroom to another. (It would be best if there were a few turns involved.)
    3. One student will listen to suggestions from the class and write a simple code on the board, for example, “five steps forward, turn right, walk two steps”.
    4. Students will “run” the code (have the student walk their program).
    5. Students will change the code until the student gets from one place to the other successfully.
  4. Class discussion: What did you notice about the process of coding? Why does the code have to be so specific? Do the robots think for themselves?
  5. On front screen, teacher shows LEGO Mindstorm software. If possible, have the students load up their own software at the same time and follow along
  6. Teacher writes a simple code in LEGO Mindstrom program (for example: the robot goes forward 3 rotations and turns right) and asks the students what the robot will do. After guessing, they run the code and watch the robot work
  7. Students write the same code themselves and see if the results are the same
  8. Teacher repeats, writing a more complicated code (for example: go backward 10 rotation, turn left, go forward 4 rotattions, and make a noise), and students again try to predict and then imitate
  9. In student log, students journal about what a program does and have to write a simple code for getting themselves from their seat to the door


  1. Learning Log entry
  2. Observation of interaction in teams
  3. Observation of students running their robots

Extension Activities:

  1. Teacher shows examples of code (Java, C++, binary, and others)
  2. Teacher explains that at the basic level all code is just 1’s and zero’s called “binary code”
  3. The computer takes the programming language and converts it to zeros and 1’s; binary code
  4. Demonstration with binary code
    • One student stands alone
    • All other students all stand in a row facing one way
    • Every third student turns around; this is to mimic that student going forward
    • Every other student turn around; this is to mimic going backward
    • You can continue with these for turning and otherwise to show what the computer actually reads
  5. There are good websites that have practice programming

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Contact Info

  • Kathleen Letsky, Curriculum Specialist
  • Nathan Patia, STEM Specialist
  • Salvador Cabusi, Technology Specialist
  • Robot Invasion
  • Krause Family Foundation
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Tel: 808.778.1265

The Krause Family Foundation: ‘Alana Ke Aloha

  • ‘Alana Ke Aloha places relationship at the heart of all learning.  We create and support projects that engage participants’ imagination, collaboration, and problem solving toward a healthy planet.
  • The Krause Family Foundation: ‘Alana Ke Aloha is a private, 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization (EIN: 27-1531421) registered (01/21/2010) in the State of Hawai‘i.