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Designing Robots
Designing Robots
Guiding it home
Guiding it home
Almost there
Almost there

Bring PBL into your Classroom

How to Guide

Steps to starting a LEGO® robotics program

The Stanley Mosk Robotics Academy has compiled a logical step-by-step plan to help guide you through this process. All of these steps are relevant to teachers, after school program leaders, and club leaders. Teachers will also need to decide on the educational specific outcomes they are trying to achieve as well as how robotics aligns with their school district's standards.


Step by step organizer:

Decide what it is that you want to teach and how robotics will be an effective organizer. e.g. are you using robots to reinforce and teach math concepts, programming, teamwork,  problem solving, or are you preparing your students for competitions?

Select the hardware that you will use as well as the programming language that will be appropriate for the students that you teach.

Elementary School - Robotics is the ideal organizer to reinforce fundamental mathematics and scientific process, it also allows the teacher to introduce the concepts of systems integration, digital control, reinforce the NGSS, CCSS and the design.

LEGO MINDSTORMS and EV 3’s are an ideal solution for upper elementary school teaching; The LEGO MINDSTORMS and EV 3’s both have Education Base Sets that will allow you to complete all of the lessons in both of the curriculums that can be found in the Robotics Education Locker. If it is in your budget, we recommend purchasing at least one Education Resource Set with every 3-4  NXT or EV3  Education Base Sets. This accessory kit includes many parts and connectors not included in the Education Base Set; including tracks, but not necessary to complete most of the basic lessons.

Research available curriculum and resources

Go to the Robotics Education Locker to see examples of robotics curriculum that thousands schools are using today.

 Decide on the size and number of student teams.

 All work should be done in teams of 2 or 4 students per robot. Teamwork is a crucial skill in the modern workplace, and the challenges of the robotics activities lend themselves to group solutions.

For classrooms, 4 students per robot is ideal.

For afterschool programs and clubs 3 students per kit works well because you have less studnets in the club and easier to manage. 

 Define roles on the team and have students change roles on a regular basis, allowing them to share responsibility for all aspects of building, programming, etc.

(1) Engineer (Builder)

(2) Software Specialist (Programmer)

(3) Information Specialist (Gets the necessary information for the team to move forward)

For teams of four :

(4) Project Manager (Whip-cracker)

For classrooms, unisex teams are preferable; research has found that boys use an autocratic decision making process excluding girls from participating in many of the technical lead roles. For clubs and teams, unisex pairings are recommended, when possible. 

Get the Tools


Identify technical and logistical requirements

 Robots – The Stanley Mosk Robotics Academy recommends one robot for each team of 3-4 students. Also, the teacher should have several backup robots in case of emergency situations. 

Computers -Ideally, one computer for each robot / team of students. Most of the students' activity will be independent and self-directed as they iteratively program / test / debug their solutions multiple times during each practice. Multiple computers will provide easy access to the programming language, eliminate 'traffic jams' and inadvertently changing another team's program.

c. Classroom / Practice area

(1) Room size and setup – The space should be large enough to accommodate all the student teams, computers, practice tables, projector for lessons, and storage area for the robots.

(2) Practice table – Required to avoid damage to robots and keep activities accessible to all students. At a minimum, the table should have borders to prevent robots from falling off.

(3) Parts storage – To keep parts organized and accessible for teams, parts organizers are necessary. There are many options – portable organizers, drawer cabinets, boxes, caddies, etc. These are readily available online and at local hardware and crafts stores. 

Network - The software and curriculum will need to be loaded on each computer or available via the network on each computer. Programs should be included in the regular system backup or leader should make a backup to a separate disk or memory stick.

Projector – Teachers will find it valuable to review videos, building instructions, etc. with the entire class. 

Prepare a budget and get funding (all prices subject to change)

a. Typical classroom budget – will consist of robots, programming language, curriculum, materials, competition fees, etc. The final cost for your robotics program will depend on the size of your team, activities, etc. Here are typical costs to use when calculating your budget:

(1) Robots - The Robotics Academy recommends one robot for every two students.

$279.95 – $399.99 for each LEGO MINDSTORMS or EV3 Education Base Set

$99.95 for each Education Resource Set; one for every two robots

(2) Programming Software Classroom license

(a) LEGO NXT-G $339.95 or (b)  EV3  $395 for 24 seat Classroom License.

Potential sources of funding – Be sure to acknowledge your sponsors at every opportunity, e.g. print their names on your team shirts, etc.

(1)   School district

(2)   Local businesses

(3)   Local non-profit organizations 

Connect with the robotics educators community locally and virtually

a) Find another robotics team in your area and ask to attend their practice sessions. This is very helpful for first-time coaches.

b) Robotics Academy

c) Robotics Educators Conferences 

 Attend teacher training 














Integrating Common Core and NGSS

With Common Core Sate Standards and the introduction to the Next Generation Science Standards, the push to teach math and language arts has been a driving force on how to intergrate the NGSS to everyday core curriculum. By using robotics in the classroom this gives the teacher a wide range of ways to introducing fully engaging science projects that help motivate creative thinkg in all grade levels. Students can use robotics to enhance NASA engineering design model. See Below.


By using this model and the NGSS teachers can help studnets build on the CCSS and NGSS to cover a wide range of curriculum in a more fun and engaging way inorder for studnets to retain what they have learned using robotics. 


Language Arts Activity 1 – Reading, Writing, & Robotics

1. Choose an article on “service-oriented robots” such as Today's Robots Are Designed To Serve by Jeanie Croasmun, and ask students to read it.

2. Show the robots movie clip found on website below.

3. Lead a discussion with students regarding what they have observed about how robots are helping people with disabilities.

4. Instruct the students to design a robot that will solve a problem for people with disabilities.

5. Afterward, have students write a persuasive paragraph on how the invention affects the quality of life in a positive way for those who have disabilities. Source: (Robots video) Activity 2 –


Reading, Writing, & Robotics

1. Read the article “ Hollywood’s Gadget Factories” A9649C8B63

2. Design a robot with an idea of how it could be used in a movie.

3. Plan the robot’s behavior using a Hollywood-style storyboard.

4. Write explanations of how their inventions work using the form of a movie screenplay. Source: ml?searchpv=learning_lessons

Social Studies

1. Community/Environment Activity

         a. Discuss with students what they have observed in their community that could be perceived as an                                environmental problem.

        b. Direct students to construct a robot that will address and resolve something they perceive as problematic                     (waste recycling, transportation, crime, etc.) or provide a service not previously conceived (interactive public               entertainment and art spaces for community, etc.)

        c. Ask students to write an explanation of what the community problem is and how their robot could help to                     resolve the problem. Source: MIT Media Laboratory Research & Projects, “The City That We Want”,                 



1. Mean, Median, and Mode

           a. Have students design a robot using a light, sound, or ultrasonic sensor.

           b. Get the threshold value by calculating the average (or mean) of the two values obtained by the sensor.

           c. Record the threshold values for all students’ sensor in list format.

           d. Instruct students to calculate the median and mode using this set of numbers.

2. Finding Distance using the Circumference of a Circle

          a. Mark the start and end marks of a designated distance for the robots to travel. Measure this distance using                 the metric system.

          b. Measure the radius of the wheel.

          c. Use the radius to calculate the circumference of the wheel.

          d. Multiply the number of programmed rotations by the circumference to determine the distance traveled.

          e. Extension: Convert metric to inches and/or feet.

          f. Extension: Invert the question to find the diameter of the wheel by using the distance value and number of                  rotations.



1. Displacement, Density, and Buoyancy

         a. Gather the following materials: ping pong ball, golf ball, rubber ball (same size), ruler, and a tub half-filled                     with water.

         b. Build robots that will pick up and drop each of the balls listed above.

         c. Have students measure the starting water line in the tub.

         d. Instruct the students to program the robot to complete the following tasks with each of the balls:

         e. Pick up ball

         f. Transport ball to the tub

         g. Drop ball into tub

         h. Measure the new water line created by displacement

         i. Discuss the displacement, density, and buoyancy that occurred.

         j. Optional: Graph and document results.

2. Build a robot that uses speed and torque. Discuss the differences.



1. Direct your students to explore the website,

2. Have students build a robot that will hold two colored markers.

3. Instruct students to create a program that will allow creation of a piece of art using markers in the style of Jackson Pollock. See ideas in article above.

4. Afterwards, post art on wall and have a gallery walk to evaluate pieces of art.


Teacher Resources

1. Robot Discovery Webquest By completing this webquest you will have learned ... ƒ how robots are being used now ƒ how robots may be used in the future and ƒ how will robots change your life as you know it today

2. Robots Video (video on right)

3. Integrating Robotics with Math, Science, Language & Media Arts, & Social Studies

4. An Introduction to Robotics – Curriculum Ideas

5. Robotics Competitions in the U.S. - K12 Academics

6. Botball Educational Robotics Program – Integrates science, technology, engineering, and math with robotics

7. TheTech Robotics Classroom Activities

8. BEST Robotics – Coach Survival Guide

Robotics Challenge
Please select a video file.