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A.M.2 | Using Cubelets to Explore Behavior

Created by: Modular Robotics

Lesson Overview:
This lesson will encourage students to continue exploring Cubelets by building robots with additional Sense and Act Cubelets. As they delve further into behavioral observation, they will continue to advance their deductive investigation skills and strengthen their understanding of using observations to make a theory, test it, and refine it using different inputs. They will also be building their scientific skills and laying the groundwork for taking careful note of their observations, analysis, and synthesis of new data. This lesson is also a building block in their understanding of emergent behavior.

The Basics:
Ages: 10 -12 years (grades 4-6)
Time: 30 – 45 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Lesson Goal (for the educator): To allow students to expand their exploration of Cubelets by building robots with more Sense and Act Cubelets.
Lesson Objectives (for the students): I will be able to build robots with different configurations using different senses and actions.
Essential Questions: How many different ways can we build robots using the Sense and Act Cubelets?
21st Century Skills: Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication and Collaboration
Concepts: Scientific method, behavior, prediction
Vocabulary: Stimuli, input, output, behavior
Required Cubelets: Distance, 2 Drive, Battery, Brightness, Flashlight, Rotate – enough for each group of 2-5 students to have one set. (You may have to share the Rotate Cubelets between groups.)
Additional Materials: Student Robotics Journals

The Standards:
ISTE: International Society for Technology Education CCSS: Common Core Standards NGSS: Next Generation Science Standards

Prior Knowledge for the Student:
A.M.1 | An Introduction and Exploration of Cubelets and Robotics, or equivalent experience playing with Cubelets.

Prior Knowledge for the Educator:
  • In this lesson, students will continue to practice observing behavior and the understanding of stimuli/input and the correlation to reaction/output.
  • Emergent behavior is the behavior of a system that does not depend on its individual parts, but rather on their relationships to one another. It is essential in systems thinking to have an understanding of the parts and their relationships – an understanding of the structure of a system as a whole. Without the understanding of the structure of a complex system, the only way to solve an emergent behavior problem would be through trial and error. For complex problems this would prove to be impossible.
In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties.

Educator Tips:
  • Allow the students to explore on their own without necessarily knowing the answers to everything they observe.
  • Encourage students to make predictions before testing out a new robot they build.
  • Be prepared that students may discover they need to turn off the lights, or ask to go to a darkened space. After this lesson you can discuss the “tents” (see the Educator Information Sheet) and give students time to construct them.

  • Divide the class into groups of 2-5 students, preferably keep the same groups from Lesson A.M.1
  • For each group, place the Cubelets they will need into a container.


    Time: 3-5 Minutes
  1. “For this lesson we will be doing some more exploring with our Cubelets. In our last lesson we built robots using one Sense Cubelet and one Act Cubelet. The Sense Cubelet we used yesterday was called the Distance – why?” Allow students to answer.
  2. “What did we find out about what the robot was sensing? How was that sense the same as humans sensing things? How was it different? What other sense would it be useful for robots to have?”
  3. “For this lesson you will also be able to use a different Cubelet called the Brightness Cubelet. Why do you think it might be called the Brightness Cubelet?” Allow students to answer and point out that they are making predictions based on analyzing the data they gathered in the prior lesson.
  4. Review the Objective and introduce/review the vocabulary. Have students add the definitions to their Robotics Journal.
  5. “You will also be able to use a few more Act Cubelets. In the last lesson you used the Drive Cubelet and this time you will have two Drive Cubelets, a Flashlight Cubelet and a Rotate Cubelet.”
  6. “Just as you did in the last lesson, you can use all these Cubelets to build robots with different functions. Try to discover what your robot is capable of by using different configurations with your Cubelets.”

Time to Explore:
    Time: 20-30 Minutes
  1. Allow the students to explore and work together making their team robots.
  2. To facilitate this, walk around the room asking questions such as the following:
    • What do you think is causing your robot to move?
    • What happens when you use more than one Sense Cubelet?
    • What happens when you use more than one Act Cubelet?
    • How can you be sure which sense your robot is using?
    • How many different configurations can you make, and how does each effect the behavior of your robot?
    • How can you make your robot move faster or slower?
    • If you could use this robot for a task, what might you get this robot to do?

  3. Time: 5 Minutes
  4. Stop the class and ask some of the groups to share what they have discovered.

  5. Time: 5-10 Minutes
  6. Allow the students more time to explore with their new knowledge.

  7. Time: 10 Minutes
  8. Stop the class again and give them time to record their observations and conclusions in their Robotics Journal. Encourage them to use words and other methods of recording such as charts, sketches, flow charts, etc.

    Time: 2-5 Minutes
  1. Recap with students what they learned in this lesson. Review the vocabulary words and discuss some of the relationships between Cubelets that they noticed.

  2. Time: 1-2 Minutes
  3. Allow time for students to share their work, put materials away and plug in the Battery Cubelets for recharging.

End Results:
Students will be able to experience behavior variations and begin to understand emergent behavior using their robots.

Optional Quick Write for Prompt and/or Evaluation:
Have students fill out the evaluation sheet for this lesson: Appendix A.M.2

What to to to Next:
For More Review: If Objectives are Met: To Enhance and Extend:

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