Robot Obstacle Course

What You Need

  • An educational robot such as Bee-Bot or a Code-and-Go Robot Mouse
  • Classroom items, such as scissors or a pencil case, that can be used as robot obstacles.


What You Do

  1. Ask students, “What is an obstacle course?” Discuss how people navigate around obstacles.
  2. Then ask, “How do robots navigate around obstacles?” Show students how you might place a pencil case or other obstacle in front of a robot. “How do we make sure the robot doesn’t bump into the pencil case?” Discuss how we can program a robot to travel around an obstacle instead of traveling in a straight line.
  3. Set up an obstacle course for the robot to navigate. Keep the course simple, using just two or three obstacles.
  4. Next, pair the students up. Ask them to take turns programming the robot to travel around each obstacle. Depending on each child’s prior experiences with robots, you may also want to review the menu of commands and other operating instructions.
  5. Allow them to use trial and error and experimentation to determine the best sequence of code for navigating the obstacle course. Remind students that computer programmers are always refining and revising their code.
  6. Afterwards, ask children questions that will help them reflect on the experience:
    • What did you find most difficult about this task?
    • How did you overcome the problems you encountered
Ann Gadzikowski is an author and educator with a passion for challenging children to think creatively and critically. Her recent book Robotics for Young Children won the 2018 Midwest Book Award for best educational book. Ann developed her expertise in robotics, computer science, and engineering through her work as early childhood coordinator for Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development. She has over 25 years of experience as a teacher and director of early childhood programs, and currently serves as the Executive Director of Preschool of the Arts, a Reggio-Emilia inspired school in Madison, Wisconsin.

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