Cubelets Robotics Lessons for 4th thru 8th Grade (ages 9-13)
This unit is designed for 4th through 8th grade classes (or may be adjusted for younger grades with changes to descriptions and providing more guidance) to explore engineering and design principles, innovation and making as a way to solve problems, and to practice designing robotic solutions with Cubelets. Each lesson plan focuses on different aspects of engineering’s unique problem-solving strategies, and throughout the whole unit students learn, “Engineers are a kind of scientist that use their skills and creativity to solve problems or change a situation by designing or making something innovative. Engineers work in lots of fields and follow a similar process and ask the same questions:
- First – What is the problem? What situation would we like to change?
- Second – What kinds of solutions could make this better? What could we make that would change this situation?
- Third – When we try our solution – how well does it work? How do we know if this solution was successful?”
Inspiration Video - Building Robots with Cubelets - Play for class - Youtube Video
Lesson 1 – Introduction to Engineering. (2 activities, 20 minutes each)
Lesson 2 – How Does it Work? (2 activities, 20 minutes each)
Lesson 3 – Reverse Engineering (3 activities, 15 minutes each)
Lesson 4 – Criteria and Constraints (3 activities, 15 minutes each)
Lesson 5 – Design Thinking (2 activities, 20 minutes each)
Lesson 6 - Collecting and Recording Data (1 activity, 45 minutes)
(Also see section 2 lessons – extensions fordifferent age groups).
Using Cubelets with Middle and High School Students:
These are 45 to 60 minute lessons for grades 7 - 12.
(Note many of these are a repeat of the lesson concepts included above but are in a difference sequence. For the most part, they are not NEW lessons, so teachers should decide which ones fit their teaching style and use one set of lessons or the other.)
Handouts: Robot Journal and Extra Pages
1. Introduction and Exploration of Robots Students build robots using Cubelets and begin to understand sense and act concepts, and how input/stimuli effects output/behavior.
2. Data Collecting Students learn methods of collecting and recording data to analyze and draw conclusions. They will see the importance of recording precise data in scientific inquiry.
3. Sensing and Magnitude Students see how the magnitude of a sense effects the behavior of their robot and investigate categorizing properties of robots.
4. Engineering Design Thinking Introduce students to the different types of engineers and the Engineering Design Process. (This is an unplugged activity that goes over the engineering design process with videos and handouts).
5. Solving Engineering Problems Have students solve real-life engineering problems.
7. Design Thinking Introduce the concept of considering the needs of users in planning solutions to problems or needs.
8. Criteria and Constraints Students will learn to solve problems with criteria and constraints and evaluate their success.
9 Data Flow Students will develop an understanding of how numbers (or information) flow from the Sense cubes to the Act cubes, thus determining how the robot behaves. Students will also have a chance to work with the Threshold, Minimum, and Maximum Cubelets.
10. Amusement Park Ride Teams will work together on presentation skills necessary to convince a panel to accept their invention.
Coding with Cubelets
Blockly is a graphic language similar to Scratch. Blockly code allows students to change what each of the cubes do - such as tell the drive cube to slow down when it gets a high number and speed up when it gets a low one (the opposite of what it typically does), and add timing and loops to control how long the cubes perform a specific function.
Blockly requires a bluetooth cubelet and a PC or Mac with Bluetooth enabled. Software is downloaded to the computer, so Admin rights are needed to setup the software.Blockly Coding Tutorials - shows which cubes are needed and provides step by step instructions for coding. (Teachers can review the tutorials to see what is involved in teaching coding).
Blockly Coding with Cubelets - give this link to students. It provides downloads and tutorials for how to use Blockly coding with Cubelets.