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Teacher P.D.
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Robotics Education


PBL and Integrating Robotics in the Classroom

What is PBL?

Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Essential Elements of PBL include:

  • Significant Content - At its core, the project is focused on teaching students important knowledge and skills, derived from standards and key concepts at the heart of academic subjects.
  • 21st century competencies - Students build competencies valuable for today’s world, such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity/innovation, which are explicitly taught and assessed.
  • In-Depth Inquiry - Students are engaged in an extended, rigorous process of asking questions, using resources, and developing answers.
  • Driving Question - Project work is focused by an open-ended question that students understand and find intriguing, which captures their task or frames their exploration.
  • Need to Know - Students see the need to gain knowledge, understand concepts, and apply skills in order to answer the Driving Question and create project products, beginning with an Entry Event that generates interest and curiosity.
  • Voice and Choice - Students are allowed to make some choices about the products to be created, how they work, and how they use their time, guided by the teacher and depending on age level and PBL experience.
  • Critique and Revision - The project includes processes for students to give and receive feedback on the quality of their work, leading them to make revisions or conduct further inquiry.
  • Public Audience - Students present their work to other people, beyond their classmates and teacher.



Robotics and Core Subjects

Incorporating LEGOs obviously covers skills and critical thinking important to being successful in math, science, engineering and technology subjects. But…have you ever thought about LEGOs in the other core areas? 

Technology TEKS state…”Through the study of technology applications foundations, including technology-related terms, concepts, and data input strategies, students learn to make informed decisions about technologies and their applications. The efficient acquisition of information includes the identification of task requirements; the plan for using search strategies; and the use of technology to access, analyze, and evaluate the acquired information. By using technology as a tool that supports the work of individuals and groups in solving problems, students will select the technology appropriate for the task, synthesize knowledge, create a solution, and evaluate the results. Students communicate information in different formats and to diverse audiences. A variety of technologies will be used. Students will analyze and evaluate the results.” LEGOs are a natural for providing this in the classroom. Below is a list of the core subject areas and a list of activities that could be incorporated into the curriculum by using LEGOs. Design, build and program…..


Language Arts 

  • a device that could be used in the story to change the outcome •
  • a device that solves a problem from a novel or piece of literature •
  • a device a reader could use to automatically turn pages of a book •
  • a new and improved device from the story • an automatic filmstrip that flips scenes to summarize the events of a story •
  • a mailbox that will raise a flag when mail is delivered •
  • keep a daily log of projects. Record objectives, problems encountered, solutions to problems, daily progress, etc. •
  • write stories inspired by robotic designs •
  • write description papers and ads for designs


  • a tool used for measuring •
  • an automatic game that allows students to practice probability •
  • a bank that will sound an alarm when opened •
  • a flash card study buddy •
  • a test situation to determine the relationship between the time and distance traveled by a vehicle. create a pattern table to record the distance the vehicle travels for every second added to the program time •
  • a test situation to determine the distance a vehicle travels when using various wheel sizes. create a pattern table to record the distance the vehicle travels with each wheel size.

Social Studies

  • a device that improves on a tool or machine used in an earlier civilization •
  • a machine that performs a community service •
  • a nonlethal device that could be used in battle •
  • a device an early explorer could have used •
  • tie in economics by assigning prices to pieces when building designs and students have to follow a budget •
  • building models, i.e. castles, temples, etc.


  • a mechanical animal that mimics the behavior of a real animal •
  • a nocturnal animal whose behaviors are activated by darkness •
  • a safe animal trap • a rover to explore and collect rocks on a moon or planet •
  • a machine that plants seeds • a catapult that releases when it detects an object being placed in it •
  • a trash collector •
  • an invention that solves a problem or improves on an existing invention • systems…
  • how could your design be used in conjunction with another from your class?

Throughout this curriculum, students will investigate the components of LEGO robotics: LEGO Mindstorms NXT brick and Lego EV3 , Education software, keeping of design journal, robot construction, programming and problem solving. This curriculum has been designed for hands-on learning and the activities can be  from 3-5 grade level. This curriculum provides teachers with a basis for incorporating project based learning into interdisciplinary technology-driven instruction in 3rd-5th grade classrooms. By using this approach, teachers also build on previous robotic trainings and discover ways to get more out of robotics by making it a part of the classroom STEM curriculum.


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