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Little Red Robot
Unit Applying VEX 123

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Connection to VEX 123

Applying VEX 123

The 123 Robot is a great way for students to explore the Computer Science concepts of sequence, selection, and iteration, as they learn about using the Eye Sensor and creating an algorithm. In this Unit, the familiar story of “Little Red Riding Hood” is used to create scenarios where the “Little Red Robot” needs to find ways to safely get to Grandmother’s house. First, by sequencing “Drive” Coder cards, then using the object detection of the Eye Sensor, and the “Drive until object” Coder card. Finally, students will create a 'Wolf Detecting Algorithm' that can both scare away the Wolf and get their Little Red Robot safely to Grandmother's house.

In Lab 1, students begin by using Drive commands to move the 123 Robot the exact distance to Grandmother’s house. By determining the correct combination of “Drive 1”, “Drive 2”, and “Drive 4” Coder cards to reach their destination, students actively practice sequencing commands and connecting their Coder card selections to the behaviors of the 123 Robot. In Lab 2, students are introduced to the “Drive until object” Coder card, and test its ability to make the 123 Robot drive to Grandmother’s house from any starting point. This creates a simplified sequence, and introduces students the concept of selection, using the Eye Sensor.

In thinking about how the 123 Robot is able to perform this task, students will learn about the Eye Sensor in the 123 Robot. They will see that the Eye Sensor can be used to help us build a better project, because it enables the 123 Robot to sense information from its environment, that we can use to make decisions in our project. This is highlighted when the Wolf character is added to the scenario, and students are able to expand their project after the “Drive until object” Coder card to “scare” away the Wolf.

In Lab 3, students build on what they learned about the Eye Sensor, to create a 'Wolf Detecting Algorithm'. They will use the "If red", "Else", and "End if" Coder cards to create a project that has the 123 Robot scare away the Wolf if it detects red, and announce its arrival at Grandmother's house if it does not. Students will learn about the decision making that happens in their project, and will then learn about how to repeat this decision making over and over again by creating an algorithm. By adding the "Go to start" Coder card, students will then create a loop - adding the concept of iteration, and building a complete algorithm.

Throughout the Unit, students will explore and discuss where the 123 Robot is located in relation to the Grandmother’s house or the Wolf using spatial language. In explaining how they selected their “Drive” Coder cards in Lab 1, students will connect the number of steps on the Coder card with the number of steps the 123 Robot needed to travel. For instance, “First it drove forward 2, but that wasn’t far enough. So we added 3 more.” Encourage students to be specific in their descriptions, to include directional and numerical words as much as they can.

Using Coder Card Posters in Your Classroom

Coder card posters can be one element that reinforces the concepts, vocabulary, and learning that is taking place with VEX 123. Coder card posters can also be used to ground a Learning Center or classroom space and help define the learning that will take place there. Students and teachers can use these posters for reference during class, and as a shared visual aid in discussions and learning experiences. See the Using Coder Card Posters in the Classroom VEX Library article to download these printable posters as PDFs.  

Use Coder card posters to highlight specific Coder cards, or refer to cards as you are teaching. Students can use these posters to review terminology as they are working with VEX 123. Possible uses for the Coder card printable posters in your classroom include:

  • Bulletin Boards - Print and display the Coder card posters on a bulletin board to reinforce learning with VEX 123, and carry the coding theme throughout the classroom. Reference posters as you implement lessons and encourage students to use posters as a visual aid during discussions. Have them identify cards on the posters as they describe the behaviors of the cards to the class.
  • Student Manipulatives - Print and laminate a set of posters for each student group to use as a reference while working in STEM Labs and completing 123 Activities. Students can first identify the behaviors that they want their 123 Robot to complete, then they can look at the behavior descriptions on the posters to identify the Coder cards that match those behaviors. 
  • Learning Centers - Print and display in a learning center as a handy reference tool to provide support to students as they complete activities independently. Once students determine the behaviors that they want the 123 Robot to complete, they can use the posters to identify the right Coder cards to use in their project. Giving students the tools to find information on their own supports student agency and independence in their learning.
  • Reteaching - Provide a set as a reference for teachers and other support professionals to use for differentiation and support reteaching concepts such as sequencing. Print and laminate a set of posters for support professionals to have on hand as a shared visual aid so they can answer questions and guide students as they practice sequencing commands and building projects. 
  • Extending STEM Labs - Encourage exploration of Coder Cards for Lab extensions. Provide a set of posters for students to have on hand to identify the Coder cards that they will need to complete extension activities. 
    • Have students use the Coder card posters to compare and contrast the different cards and create a project that completes a STEM Lab challenge in a new way. 
    • Have students use the Action, Sound, Look, Time poster to identify cards to add to their projects to have the 123 Robot perform an action to celebrate completing a STEM Lab or Activity challenge. 
  • Use as the basis for brain breaks and games. Print and laminate set for students to use to play a game where they act out the behaviors for select Coder cards.
  • Reinforce Key Vocabulary - Use to encourage vocabulary usage to help students learn the names and behaviors associated with each Coder card. Cut out the Coder cards and behavior descriptions, and have students play a game where they match the Coder card to their associated behavior.

For more information on using posters in your classroom and to access additional VEX posters, see the Using Posters in Your Classroom VEX Library Article.

Teaching Coding

Throughout this Unit, students will be engaged with different coding concepts such as robot behaviors and sequencing. The Labs within this unit will follow a similar format:

  • Engage:
    • Teachers will help students make a personal connection to the concepts that will be taught in the Lab.
  • Play:
    • Instruct: Teachers will introduce the coding challenge. Ensure that the students understand the goal of the challenge.
    • Model: Teachers will introduce Coder cards that will be used in the creation of their project to complete the challenge. Model the Coder card commands by projecting VEXcode 123 or by showing the physical Coder cards. For Labs that include pseudocode, model for students how to plan and outline the intention for their projects.
    • Facilitate: Teachers will be given prompts to engage students in a discussion about what the goals of their project are, the spatial reasoning involved in the challenge, and how to troubleshoot unexpected outcomes of their projects. This discussion will also verify that the students understand the purpose of the challenge and how to properly use the Coder cards.
    • Remind: Teachers will remind students that their first attempt of their solution will not be correct or run properly the first time. Encourage multiple iterations and remind students that trial and error is a part of learning.
    • Ask: Teachers will engage students in a discussion that will connect the Lab concepts to real-world applications. Some examples could include, “have you ever wanted to be an engineer?” or “where have you seen robots in your life?”
  • Share: Students have an opportunity to communicate their learning in multiple ways. Using the Choice Board, students will be given a “voice and choice” for how they best display their learning.