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The Meet Your Robot! Unit will familiarize you and your students with the concept of a robot that will be used in the 123 Robot learning activities. Students will be learning terminology associated with the functions and features of the robot, and use this language as they engage in guided explorations, and establish “Robot Rules” for correct and incorrect usage of the 123 Robot within the classroom.

What is a Robot?

A robot is a device that can carry out an action once it is programmed to do so. In Computer Science, a robot is defined as a device that can sense, plan, and act:

  • Sense (take distance feedback, color feedback, gyro feedback)
  • Plan (use that feedback to make a decision or action)
  • Act (act upon that plan/decision)

A robot cannot think for itself, and as such requires programming, or coding, to be able to act on its environment. A device, like phone, is not a robot because it is unable to act on or within its environment. This ability to act is a key defining feature of what makes something a robot, as opposed to another kind of device.

The 123 Robot uses Touch buttons as the tangible tools for these programming actions.  Combinations of button presses communicate to the robot what actions it should carry out.  There is a 1:1 correspondence between a press of a button, and the action of the robot. For each one press of the “forward” arrow on top of the 123 Robot, the robot will move or turn one unit.

one press to one motion

What is VEX 123

VEX 123 allows children to explore Computer Science concepts and for you, the teacher, to incorporate things like spatial reasoning, coding, and decomposition into a wide array of content areas. There are a number of units and labs written to give you ideas for ways to use the 123 platform in your classroom, and all of them will include the use of your 123 Robot in a hands on way. The 123 platform has a variety of components, and can include the following:

Item: 123 Robot

Teacher Definition: A small, circular shaped robot with a charging port, an eye sensor, lights, sounds, and touch buttons that can move on any surface to carry out programmed actions.

Student Definition: A circular robot that has wheels and can be programmed to move, light up, and make sounds.

render of puck


Item: Charger

Teacher Definition: A USB cable that connects directly into the 123 Robot for recharging.

Student Definition: A cord that gets power to my robot, like other devices.


Item: 123 Tile (optional for this Unit)

Teacher Definition: A flat, square surface that is designed for the 123 Robot to run on. It is premarked with grid lines and notched arrows to show proper alignment for the 123 Robot to travel in a straight line. Each “1” drive unit corresponds to 1 square of the tile.

Student Definition: A piece of “robot playground” that is made specially for the 123 Robot to roll on.


Item: Poster

Teacher Definition: A classroom resource that displays the 123 Robot and other information for students to reference throughout their activities.

Student Definition: A place to look to remember what the 123 parts are.


Item: Screwdriver

Teacher Definition: A small precision screwdriver for unscrewing the bottom plate of the robot if you need to get to the wheels.

Student Definition: A teacher tool to use in case something gets stuck in the wheels.


Item: Knowledge Base

Teacher Definition: A library of information about all things VEX. The KB is a resource housing articles on how to use the 123 Robot, its features and useful background information.

Student Definition: Teacher resource - Not a student tool.


Item: VEX 123 STEM Labs

Teacher Definition: A set of lesson plans for use with the 123 platform that include 40 minute labs for classroom instruction.

Student Definition: An activity that uses the 123 Robot in the classroom.