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Calm Down Robot
Lab 1 - Rowdy Robots

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Launch the Engage Section

ACTS is what the teacher will do and ASKS is how the teacher will facilitate.

  1. Build the “Overly Excited” project (as shown in the Lab 1 image slideshow), or a similar project, in your Coder. Turn on and connect your 123 Robot and Coder. Direct the students’ attention to the field, and after setting up the situation, start the project to show students how the 123 Robot moves when it acts out of control.
  2. Record students’ observations and answers on the board.
  3. As students share experiences, make a list of emotion words on the board.
  4. As students share behaviors, make a list of them on the board beside the emotion words.
  5. Help students identify some Coder cards that might be useful for this - use the Coder cards themselves, or the 123 Poster for reference.
  1. Have you ever been so excited about something, that you had a hard time staying in control? Guess what, our 123 Robots are having that same situation! They are so excited about something happening after school, that they are having a hard time settling down for school activities. 
  2. What do you notice about the 123 Robot’s behavior? What does that movement communicate to you? Does it look in control or out of control? Why?
  3. Can you think of a time when you were out of control of your actions? What were you feeling? 
  4. Sometimes when we are feeling big emotions, we have trouble controlling our behavior. What are some movements or actions that we do, when that happens? How do those actions connect to that feeling?
  5. How do you think you can code your 123 Robot to show a big feeling, like excitement, and act out of control? 


  1. InstructInstruct students that they are going to observe the 123 Robot’s behaviors and look at the Coder cards, to see how the feeling of excitement is being represented. Students will first watch the 123 Robot, then talk about how the robot’s behaviors correspond to human actions. Then, they will look at the project and talk about how the Coder cards connect to the robot’s behaviors. Below is an example of what the students will see the 123 Robot do in the “Over Excited” example. Turn sound on for this animation.
    Video file
  2. DistributeDistribute a 123 Robot, Coder and Coder cards, and a Field for demonstration purposes. Students will collect their materials after the demonstration.
  3. FacilitateFacilitate students observations of the 123 Robot’s behaviors, and the connections to human action and emotion. Be sure that the whole class can see the 123 Robot and Field setup, as well as the Coder cards when shown.

    Example Over Excited Project Image
    Example "Over Excited" Project

    Facilitate students participating in the process of observing and identifying behaviors by asking questions like: 

    • Do you think the robot is in control or out of control? How can you tell? If you were moving like the 123 Robot, do you think you would feel in control or out of control? Why? 
    • What feelings might the 123 Robot be acting out, when it moves this way? How is that similar or different to how you behave when you have that feeling? 

    Facilitate students connecting Coder cards to 123 Robot behaviors by using the Step button to step through the project and show each Coder card as it is run. (For more information on stepping through a project with the Coder, see this article from the VEX Library.)

    Image of the Step button on the Coder
    Step button on the Coder

    Ask questions like: 

    • What behavior did our 123 Robot do when this Coder card started? 
    • Let’s look at what Coder card is next in the project. What do you think our robot is going to do next? Why? 
    • Do those Coder cards match your idea of what an out of control behavior looks like? How is it similar or different? 
  4. OfferOffer positive reinforcement for good observation and listening skills during the demonstration.
A VEX 123 character

Teacher Troubleshooting

Facilitation Strategies

  • Social-Emotional Learning Beyond the Lab - Incorporate additional Social-Emotional Learning resources that you may have, such as mindfulness flash cards, photos of people expressing various emotions, or books into the activities and reflections in this Unit.  
  • Human - Robot Behavior Connections - Encourage students to act out the human behaviors they are trying to represent with the 123 Robot, to help make the connection between them more clear.
  • Take Turns - Throughout the Lab, students should take turns in their groups. Suggestions for facilitating this include:
    • To get started with the 123 Robot and Coder, one student can wake up the 123 Robot, while the other pairs the Coder.
    • During Play, have one student insert the Coder cards, and the other start the project.
  • Use printables as manipulative to support project planning - See the printable resources available in the VEX Library, and use them with students as they are planning and building their Coder projects. You could use the motion planning sheets for students to draw the actions they want their 123 Robot to do in their code, as well as the fill-in project and motion planning sheets for students to document their Coder cards and the movements of the 123 Robot. You can also use the fill-in Coder sheet for students to write or draw their Coder cards to "save" their projects.
  • Use Coder card posters to reinforce learning with the Coder - Highlight specific Coder cards, or refer to cards as you are teaching with the Coder card posters. Students can use these posters to review terminology as they are working with VEX 123. See the Using Coder Cards Posters in the Classroom VEX Library article to access these printable posters and to see more strategies for using them in your learning environment.