Skip to main content

Touch to Code
Lab 2 - Code and Clean

Teacher Portal

Launch the Engage Section

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

  1. Have students share their ideas, and offer an example from their previous experience if needed. 
  2. Hold up a 123 Tile with an X and an O drawn on neighboring squares, one example of this is shown in the Lab 2 image slideshow. (Pretend that you don’t know where the symbols are written.) Show where the 123 Robot would start, so students can see how it is oriented. Call attention to where the white arrow is pointing when you do this. (In the example, the 123 Robot can be placed on the X, with the arrow pointing off the tile. One possible solution could then be to press the Left button, then press the Move button.)
  3. As students offer button presses, write them down. (For the purposes of this exercise, limit students to no more than 1-3 button presses.) 
  4. Wake the 123 Robot, press the buttons in the order the students said, place the 123 Robot on the X, and start the project. If it is correct, congratulate the class. If not, help them identify the mistake, and repeat the process to try again.
  5. Have students share their answers, and guide them to the idea of erasing their project and trying again. Reinforce that this is part of coding, and part of learning, and that every coding project helps you learn, no matter what. 
  1. In Lab 1, we coded our 123 Robots to drive and help us read a word. I noticed that we had to press the buttons in the right order to get our robots to drive where we wanted them to. Why do you think order is important when we’re coding our 123 Robots? 
  2. Our 123 Robots can only do exactly what we tell them to do, so we have to make sure we are giving them the right sequence, or order, of behaviors so that they do what we want them to do. Let’s try a little game, so I can show you what I mean. I want my 123 Robot to drive from the X to the O on this Tile. I can’t see where the X and O are, so I need you to tell me what buttons to press on my robot, ok? 
  3. How can we sequence our button presses to have the 123 Robot move on the path that we want it to move? What does my 123 Robot need to do first? What button should I press? Think about where my 123 Robot will be when it moves like that. What does it need to do next? What button should I press? 
  4. Let’s test it out, and see if we got the sequence right. (If it is correct, celebrate the success. If it is not, erase the project and try again. Help the children to see where the mistake was, so they can try to correct it.) 
  5. Sometimes we won’t get our sequences correct right away, but that’s ok. What can we do when that happens? 


  1. InstructInstruct students that they are going to practice this idea of sequencing more, to use their 123 Robots to help them “clean their room”. Explain that their “room” is going to be a Tile, and they have to “clean” it by pushing pom poms off the Tile using the 123 Robot. To help them do this, they are first going to create an “invention” to help their 123 Robot clean. See the image below for an example of an invention that could be made with pipe cleaners.

    image of an example "invention", two pipe cleaners attached to the 123 Robot on the Art Ring
    Example "invention"


  2. DistributeDistribute one Art Ring to each group, and give them access to classroom art supplies that can be used to create their inventions. As a group completes their invention, give them a 123 Robot, so that they can attach the Art Ring to it.
  3. FacilitateFacilitate students' creation of their invention, and attaching the Art Ring to the 123 Robot.
    • Students can be free to make whatever creation they think would work best. Offer the following guidelines to help if students need additional support: 
      • The invention should help your robot to push items off of the Tile, so attach it to the front of the Art Ring. 
      • The invention shouldn’t get in way of the wheels, so make sure that it stays off the ground. 
      • The invention should be sturdy enough that it doesn’t fall apart when the 123 Robot is moving. 
    • Remind students that the white arrow on the Art Ring should be lined up with the white arrow on the 123 Robot when they attach the Art Ring to the robot. Use the image below for reference.

    image showing how to line out the arrows on the art ring and the 123 Robot when attaching
    LIne up the arrows on the Art Ring and the 123 Robot


  4. OfferOffer positive reinforcement for groups that are working well together, and for creativity in students’ inventions.
A VEX 123 character

Teacher Troubleshooting

Facilitation Strategies

  • Take Turns - Throughout the Lab, students should take turns in their groups. Suggestions for facilitating this include:
    • During Engage, have one student draw out their idea for their invention, and the other student can create it and attach the Art Ring to the 123 Robot.
    • During Play, alternate who creates the touch project, and who places the 123 Robot on the Tile and presses the “Start” button. Students can also alternate who places the pom poms on the Tile. 
  • Try a new starting position - If groups complete the challenge quickly, have them start on a different square and code the 123 Robot to clear the Tile from the new starting position.
  • Draw the path - To help students plan their sequence in a more tangible way, have them use a dry erase marker to draw the path the 123 Robot needs to take. Then have students trace each 123 Robot behavior on the path, as they code them with the touch buttons. It is recommended that you erase the dry erase marker from the Tiles at the end of the Lab.
  • Follow the pom pom! - Items may roll in unexpected ways when they come in contact with the 123 Robot or the invention attached. Frame this as an additional fun challenge aspect of Play, and encourage students to have their robot “chase” their objects all the way off the Tile. This is a great opportunity to iterate on a project, and can help students see problem solving from a different perspective.
  • 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 touch projects. You could cut out the touch button symbols and have students lay them out on their desk as they build their projects, or use the color-in sheet for students to color in the sequence of button presses in their projects.