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A.B.1 | Robots and Sensing

Created by: Modular Robotics

Lesson Overview:

This is an introductory lesson to be used prior to introducing the Cubelets to your class. This lesson relates robots and sensing to human senses and reactions. Students will play a game called Robot Sensing to gain an understanding of this concept.

Be sure to read the Educator Information Sheet for essential information in understanding how to interpret all of the Cubelet lesson plans. We strongly suggest you keep this document handy. As you–and your students–learn more and more about Cubelets, you will find it to be a handy reference tool.

The Basics:
Ages: 7 – 9 years (grades 1-3)
Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Prep Time: 1 minute
Lesson Goal (for the educator): To introduce the concept that senses are not binary, but rather possess the ability to perceive a spectrum of more or less input, and that humans can receive sensory information from more than one source.
Lesson Objectives (for the students): I will be able to react to sensory information according to the magnitude of that sensory information.
Essential Questions: What is magnitude? How might the magnitude of a sense effect behavior?
21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Concepts: Senses possess the ability to perceive a spectrum of more or less input and can react according to the amount of that input.
Vocabulary: Magnitude, sense, reaction, behavior
Required Cubelets: None
Additional Materials: Students’ Robotics Journal, device to play music

The Standards:
ISTE: International Society for Technology Education
Creativity and Innovation 1.c, 1.d

Prior Knowledge Necessary for the Student:
A general understanding of the five senses and their functions.

Prior Knowledge for the Educator:
  • Students will be using their Student Robotics Journal after each lesson, so if you are unfamiliar with Interactive Journals please familiarize yourself with them. To learn more about these journals, there are suggestions for sites to go to in the Educator Information Sheet.
  • Senses are not binary (on/off). They have the ability to perceive a spectrum of more or less input.
  • Humans are able to receive sensory information from more than one source, and robots can be programmed to do the same.

Educator Tips:
If you have physically challenged students you may want to change the actions (standing, clapping) to accommodate their abilities.

Set up a device to play music for your students to hear.



    Time: 3-5 Minutes
  1. “Who can tell me what a sense is that humans have? What is sensing?” Have a brief discussion with the students to review what they already know about senses/sensing.
  2. “Sensing is when we get information about things around us from our bodies. For example, when you touch something rough or smell something good.”
  3. Allow students to come up with naming the five senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Have them name the body parts that do the sensing. Have the students come up with examples of sensing and discuss why our senses are important.
  4. “We sense things and animals sense things, and soon we are going to find out about how robots sense things.”
  5. “First, let’s think about how senses work by testing our own senses in order to find out more about robot senses.”
  6. Review the Objective and introduce/review the Vocabulary.

Time to Explore:

    Time: 5-7 Minutes
  1. “We are going to play a game that is similar to Simon Says. It is called Robot Sensing. For this game you will be a robot and use your ears to collect information. If you hear music you should wave your arms.”
  2. Have the students find a spot in the room where they will have some space away from others in order to play this game.
  3. “I’m going to play some music. Whenever you hear music you should wave your arms.”
  4. Play music, on and off, until the students get the hang of the game. Review the sense that they are using to play this game and point out that this sense, hearing, is causing them to act in a certain way – waving.
  5. “Our senses can also tell if there is a small amount of information or a large amount of information. One example is how we can hear loud noises and softer noises. Now, when I play music, listen for a change in how much you can hear. If it gets louder, wave your arms faster. If it gets quieter, wave your arms more slowly.” Play music changing the volume up and down.
  6. “But, with our senses, we can collect information about more than one thing. Let’s see how this works. This time, if I clap you should sit down and remain sitting as long as I am clapping. When I am not clapping you should stand up. Let’s try this.” Clap and stop clapping and continue until all students understand the rule.
  7. Ask your class the following questions:
    1. “What do you think you should do if I am clapping and playing music?” (Kids should sit down and wave their hands.)
    2. “Then what should you do if I stop clapping?” (Stand up and still wave their hands.)
    3. “And what if the music then stops?” (stop waving)
    4. “And what happens if the music gets louder?” (wave hands faster)
    5. “And what happens if the music gets quieter?” (wave hands more slowly).
  8. “Ok, let’s try and play the game.”

  9. Time: 3-5 Minutes
  10. Play the game until you are sure the kids understand. Review the concepts explored and introduce the word “magnitude” to them.

  11. Time: 5-7 Minutes
  12. Repeat the game, but this time change the sense and behavior. Have students march slowly when you hold your hands down low and march more quickly as you raise your arms higher and eventually over your head. Ask them what sense they are using now (sight). Again, discuss how the behavior changes as the sensing changes.


    Time: 2-3 Minutes
  1. Ask the students what they have learned in this lesson. Try to get them to articulate that human behavior can be a result of taking in stimuli through a sense they have, and that humans can take in several senses at once AND can react to the magnitude of a sense.
  2. If your students have never used Interactive Journals, you will need to explain to them the purpose of their new Student Robotics Journal.

  3. Time: 5 Minutes
  4. Have the students record what they learned in their Robotics Journal. Encourage them to use words and other methods of recording such as charts, sketches, flow charts, etc.
  5. Explain to them that the next time they work with Cubelets they will be exploring this concept with the robots they build.

End Results:
Students will begin to understand the concept that senses possess the ability to perceive a spectrum of more or less input, and that this input determines output/behavior.

Optional Quick Write for Prompt and/or Evaluation:
Have students record their thoughts about this lesson in the Student Robotics Journal. Remind them to use images and words.

What to go to Next:
For More Review:
  • Repeat this lesson.
  • If Objectives are Met:
  • An Introduction and Exploration of Cubelets A.B.2
  • To Enhance and Extend:
  • An Introduction and Exploration of Cubelets A.B.2
  • Note: At times, you will notice that the lessons may be the same for the students at different levels, this is because many lessons are essential to all students – especially in the beginning as they learn the basic concepts involved in using Cubelets.

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