Skip to main content

Role Play Robot
Lab 1 - Act Happy

Teacher Portal

Materials Needed

The following is a list of all the materials and teaching resources that are needed to complete the VEX 123 Lab. First listed are the materials needed for the entire Lab, including the 123 Robot. In certain Labs, links to teaching resources in a slideshow format have been included. Not all Labs will include a slideshow. These slides can help provide context and inspiration for your students. All slides are editable, and can be projected for students or used as a teacher resource.

Materials Purpose Recommendation

123 Robot

For performing the behaviors in Lab activities.

1 per group


For building a project to use with the 123 Robot.

1 per group

Coder cards

For inserting into the coder to create a project.

See Environment Setup for which Coder cards each group will need

123 Field

For a place on which to use the 123 Robot.

4 tiles and 8 walls for every 2 groups

Lab 1 Image Slideshow

Google Doc / .pptx / .pdf

Visual aids for teacher facilitation.

1 per class


To write or draw predictions in Play Part 1.

1 per group


To write or draw predictions in Play Part 1.

1 per group

VEX 123 PDF Printables (optional)

To use as manipulatives to support student project planning and saving. 1 per group

Environment Setup

  • Ensure that during the Engage demonstration, all students are able to see and hear the 123 Robot. You may want to do this demonstration with students sitting in a circle, with the 123 Robot in the center. Remind students to be quiet and to listen carefully as the 123 Robot is moving.
  • Gather the materials each group needs before class. For this Lab, each group of two students will need pencil and paper, a 123 Robot, a Coder, a 123 Field to test on, and the following:
    • Play Part 1:
      • One "When start 123" Coder card
      • Three Action Coder cards (Act happy, Act sad, Act crazy)

Coder Cards Needed for Play Part 1
Coder cards needed for Play Part 1

  • Play Part 2:
    • One "When start 123" Coder card
    • Three Sound Coder cards (Play honk, Play doorbell, Play crash)
    • Three Looks Coder cards (Glow purple, Glow green, Glow blue)
    • Five Motion Coder cards (Drive 1, Drive 2, Turn left, Turn right, Turn around)

Coder cards Needed for Play Part 2
Coder cards needed for Play Part 2

  • To keep your class organized and your students focused on only the necessary Coder cards, only give them access to the cards listed above as needed during the Lab. In Play Part 2, you may wish to give a selection of the Coder cards listed, so groups are not overwhelmed with too many choices.
  • Review the Facilitation Strategies in the Engage section for turn taking ideas to help students share responsibilities during the Lab. For groups larger than the recommended two students, provide students with more granular roles. Examples of responsibilities for students in this Lab:
    • Placing the 123 Robot on the Field to test.
    • Inserting the Coder cards and pressing the "Start" button.
    • Laying out the Coder cards for the emotion code created in Play Part 2.
    • Writing or drawing the emotion code created in Play Part 2.


Begin the lab by engaging with the students.

  1. Hook

    Have you ever played a pretend game, and pretended you were happy or sad? How did you show that you were feeling a certain way? Did you change your face, or your voice, or move a certain way? 

  2. Demonstrate

    Show the “Act happy” Coder card, and have students predict what the robot will do. Insert the card into the Coder and start the project. Have students observe and identify what behaviors the “Act happy” Coder card makes the 123 Robot do. Act out those same behaviors to see how they connect to the students’ ideas of “acting happy.”

  3. Leading Question

    How do you think we can code our 123 Robots to act out a feeling?


Allow students to explore the concepts introduced.

Part 1

Students will make predictions about what the behaviors of the 123 Robot will be for the “Act sad” and “Act crazy” Coder cards. Then, they will use the Coder to test each of these and observe the behaviors of the 123 Robot.

Mid-Play Break

Students will describe how the behaviors of the 123 Robot convey feeling sad or silly with the “Act sad” and “Act crazy” Coder cards.

Part 2

Students will make their own project for the 123 Robot to act out another feeling. Groups will first identify the feeling that they want to convey. Then, they will work together to plan their project using Coder cards. Once they have created their plan, they will insert the Coder cards into the Coder and test their projects on the 123 Robot.

Alternate Coding Methods

While this Lab is written for use with the Coder, it can also be completed using VEXcode 123. Instead of giving each group a Coder and Coder cards, give students a tablet or computer and build the emotion code projects using the blocks in VEXcode 123. For more information about VEXcode 123, reference articles in the VEXcode 123 section of the VEX Library.


Allow students to discuss and display their learning.

Active Share

Have students share the emotion they coded, by showing their Coder with the Coder cards in it to the class. Then, explain what the 123 Robot is going to do, and why they chose those behaviors. Have the group start their projects to share their emotion code with the class.

A VEX 123 character

Discussion Prompts