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The Robot Gets a Brain - Days 2-3

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

ResourcesDay (2-3): Getting into Mindstrom's Programming)

Materials Needed:

  1. Mindstorms software
  2. Lego robot (built yesterday)
  3. Role cards
  4. List of tasks (Practice Programming Tasks)


  1. As a review, students share with a partner their code for how they get from their seat to the door
  2. Run the code and see if it works
  3. Class discussion: Does your code cover all the points? Would a Lego robot be able to follow these directions? (“No” because it does not use the right programming language)
  4. Lecture: This is one of the differences between steps in a sequence and actual code: code is a language that has to be followed exactly
  5. nb9
  6. Students are again broken into teams of three or four (three being the preferred number)
  7. Assign cards with jobs. Jobs will switch after each activity
    • Programmer: person who does the computer work
    • Technician: person who works with the robot
    • Manager: person who double checks the program to make sure it is right
    • All, however, give their feedback into what the program should say.
  8. Teacher then gives them a simple task to do with their Lego robot. Students write code until the task is complete. Tasks could include:
    1. Going forward 1 ft
    2. Going forward 1 ft and turning 90º to the right
    3. Going forward 1 ft, turning 90º to the right, going forward another 1 ft, and turning 90º right again
  9. Teams share their code and if there is a difference in code, have a discussion about the fact that there are different ways of programming
    • If there are few differences, teacher may have either a more complicated code or a more simple code to show students that there is more than one way to write code and get the same effect
  10. For each task, students are to switch roles, so that everybody is programmer, technician, and manager at least twice.
  11. The tasks include:
    1. Going forward exactly 2 ft and stopping
    2. Spinning the robot exactly 3 times and then stopping
    3. Going forward exactly 1 ft, stopping, and spinning 1 ½ times
    4. Going forward exactly 1 ft and coming back to the same spot
    5. Turning 90º to the right and going forward exactly 1 ft.
    6. Going exactly 1 ½ feet forward and turning 90º to the left
      • Download: “Practice Programming Tasks”
  12. During the exercises, students are to write the following questions in their log and answer them:
    1. How many rotations were needed to go 2 ft for your code? Using this information, how many rotations would you need to go 4 ft? The idea is to get students to multiply their number by 2
    2. How many degrees does it take to spin exactly 3 times? Using this information, how many degrees does it take to spin exactly 1 time around? The idea is to get the students to divide their answer by 3.
    3. How could you use the information from part one to help you get 1 ½ ft? How could you use the information from task 2 to help you get degrees? Both of these are exactly half of their co-parts in task 1 and 2.
    4. What do you notice about how many rotations are needed to get to 1 ft and how many it takes to get back? The idea is to see that it should be the same, so they shouldn’t have to do the second part by trial and error.
    5. What can you use from the last task to help in this task? The idea is to get the students to use information they learn and apply it to future tasks.
    6. How many degrees does it take to turn exactly 90º right? How many to turn 90º left? How can this help you in the future? Same thing of applying ideas to future tasks. This information is especially important, as 90º turns will be used a great deal in the lessons ahead.
      • This is also in the reference folder “Programming tasks for learning log”.
  13. When completed, students share their answers with their teammates, 45 seconds per answer and switch, until all the questions are answered
  14. In the big group, teacher asks for answers to each and comments on why the tasks were assigned and questions asked
  15. In student log, students journal about what they learned about teamwork and programming with Lego Mindstorms


  1. Learning Log entry
  2. Student answers to their questions
  3. Observation of interaction in teams
  4. Observation of students running their robots

What's Next? > Mission Accomplished

(Page 3 of 3)

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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.