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Simple Math activity using Robotics 

This last Monday was spent all day working with Math teachers, showing them how to use robotics in the classroom, specifically aimed at math activities (as opposed to 'robot' activities).  We looked at a range of activities, but I feel the one that semed to excite them the most was a simple '1 action' program.



  • Take your day of the month you were born, add 15 to it and multiply by 2.  This gives you your unique 'power setting'.  This works well in a classroom as it ensure that all groups end up with different results, making it difficult for one group to steal another groups data
  • Program the robot to move forward for 1 second (at your unique power level) and record how far it goes
  • Program it to go forward for 2 seconds and record how far it travels
  • Continue varying the time travelled and record the distance travelled
  • Plot the time taken against the distance moved


We ended up with something similar to this


From this you can see that the relationship between the distance and time taken is roughly proportional.  Then with our trust helper Penelope the Polar bear, we set a distance (54cms in this case) and the teachers had to either extrapolate (look beyond their data) or interpolate (look between their data) to decide how many seconds their robot needed to go to get to Penelope but not run her over.  As each group had their own unique number, the time needed for each robot was different. 


We tossed around a few concepts that this type of activity could delve into and came up with this.

  • Speed and velocity
  • Gathering data
  • Graphing data
  • Interpolation / Extrapolation
  • Averaging samples (ie. should take more than one reading for each time period)
  • Experimental error

Can you think of any more? Please let me know in the comments below.

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Reader Comments (5)


This is a great exercise. I recently led a similar effort, but I wasn't smart enough to randomize the power levels using your technique. Great idea!

If there's an interest by the teachers in delving deeper, that first second has a lot of potential from an engineering perspective. Other things to discuss in that little time window include friction, breakaway torque, and conservation of momentum.

Hope this helps,

All my best,

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Shelden

I think that this would be a great activity if you could do this and using the circumfrance of the wheels calculate exactly how many times the wheels have to turn to get it to stop exactly in front of the bear!

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbethany

Cool site...a LEGO connected program...good luck!

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Walker


I am a computer and robot teacher in Doha

can you please support me by more activities of math and science integrating with robot .


September 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBAZA Mohamed

This link has a few good lesson plans that utilize Lego Mindstorms in the class

August 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJared

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