This 1 hour robotics and computer science activity is ideal for any age of participants. Using design and build, youth will explore systems thinking as they improve their creativity, critical thinking, modelling, and reflection skills, and garner appreciation for the fallible nature of science and curiosity.Youth will be challenged with very few instructions to problem solve in groups in order to build robots that can respond to senses, travel distances, and display “behaviours.”
- Cubelets offer a great platform for presenting robotics challenges and engages many levels of expertise to creatively attend to answering a range of challenges that include robotics, reasoning, and design.
- Robotics challenge provide instant feedback to students as they learn to code and consider inputs and outputs. The visual feedback makes creativity and problem solving highly motivating.
- Modelling is the ability to create a visual representation of your thinking so that others may understand a problem, situation, or task.
- Reflection helps kids think about their thinking and further extend learning. In this activity youth reflect on the activity in a group setting to increase communication and peer learning.
Building Robots is as Easy as PB&J
To get participants excited about building with cubelets, opt to show them this quick video that demonstrates how you can build multiple robots with cubelets in the same time it takes to make a PB&J Sandwhich: https://www.tubechop.com/watch/6017077
Secret Senses - 15 minutes
Explain, today you’re going to get the chance to solve challenges in groups by building robots like the ones you saw in our PB&J video. Here are a few things you need to know to get started:
- Black Cubelets: Sense (like our eyes and Ears)
- Clear Cubelets: Act (create a motion or action)
- Coloured Cubelets: Think (and help us solve problems and think critically)
Provide groups with their kits. Have them select the Battery, Brightness, and Flashlight.
- Challenge: How many different ways can you build with just these three blocks?
- Challenge: Try to make the light shine more or less by changing the input to the sense.
Now switch the distance sense without telling participants the input for this sense.
- Challenge: What do you think the robot is sensing?
- Challenge: Can you find out how this robot senses its environment by trying different inputs to this sense?
Now that you have an idea about what this Cubelet is sensing: Design a robot that would use this sense and action to help people or do a job. What job or purpose could it have?
- Ideas include: motion detected light, a flashlight that follows you, etc.
Tip: Participants who are new to building with cubelets will gain more understanding by building with single sense (black cubelet) and single action (clear cubelets).
Driving Robots – 20 minutes
To Do in Advance:
- Provide groups with their kits. Have them select the Battery, Distance, and Drive Cubelet.
- Challenge: Using the battery, distance, and drive cubelets how can you arrange them so that the drive action can be made faster and slower?
- Challenge: Can you drive the cubelets robot across the table?
- Challenge: Using only these three cubelets and building in a linear arrangement (all cubelets are in a straight line) how many different configurations/robots can you make? Hint: think about how changing the configuration changes the robot’s behaviour. Remember you change an individual cubelets direction/position without changing the order of the line of three.
Limitless Challenge - 20 minutes
To Do in Advance
- Provide groups with Passive cubelets, or any other variation of cubelets that came with your kits.
- Challenge: Using only the same three cubelets from the last challenge, what kinds of robots can you build if you build in non-linear configurations? How many new kinds of behaviours can you make your robot do?
Challenge: Can you make your robot appear:
- “aggressive” - driving faster as it gets close to something
- “afraid: - drives away from things
- “confused” - drives in circles
- Challenge: Add your passive cubelet to your robot, what new kind of robot can you design. How would you describe the behaviour of your new robot to someone else?
- Design a poster that captures your final robot, provides instructions so that others can build it, and give it a name. Be sure to credit your work so we know who invented this robot.
- Have students use the Codemakers Debrief Cards to reflect on the Cubelets challenge. Provide 5 - 15 minutes for reflection, as time permits.
Modifications and Extensions
- Give participants placemats to work on so that their boundaries are defined.
- Create the groups that participants will work in.
- Do one challenge per day so that participants can build their knowledge in new contexts before coming back to the Cubelets.
- Write the Cubelets colour meanings on the chalkboard/whiteboard to help participants remember what they do.
- Build visual challenge cards for those with low reading comprehension or who may be moving through challenges at a slower pace.
- Have participants propose the space where they want to test their robot.
- Limit challenges to 10 minutes.
- Challenge early finishers to build visual challenge cards so others can re-create their robots.