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  • 12 - 18 years old
  • 45 minutes - 4 hrs, 45 min
  • Intermediate
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Students are asked to program their robot to act on conditionals and create a User Interface (UI).


Key Concepts

  • Programming Conditionals

  • Robot Behaviors

  • Analytical Thinking


  • Apply building directions in a multistep procedure to create a robot to complete a specific task.

  • Analyze directions to configure and program a robot to complete a series of tasks.

  • Evaluate the need for an 'If then else' condition and use it appropriately in a project.

  • Evaluate and refine computational artifacts to make them more usable and accessible.

  • Create projects that include sequences, events, loops, and conditionals.

  • Design and iteratively develop programs that combine control structures, including nested loops and compound conditionals.

Materials needed

  • 1 or more VEX V5 Classroom Starter Kits

  • Aluminum can, empty water bottle, and other durable objects for lifting

  • Engineering Notebook

  • A stopwatch or time keeping device

  • VEXcode V5

Facilitation Notes

  • Ensure all required parts for the build are available prior to starting this STEM Lab.

  • Make sure that there is ample space in the classroom to measure out and tape the layout for the User Interface Challenge.

  • Make sure that your robot is configured for a robot with 2 V5 Smart Motors plugged into Ports 1 and 10. If your robot is configured differently, your robot will not run your program.

  • If multiple students will be downloading their saved project to the same robot, have the students add their initials to the name of the saved project (For example, "Forward and Backward_MW"). This way students can find and make adjustments to their projects and not others.

  • An engineering notebook can be as simple as lined paper within a folder or binder. The notebook shown is a more sophisticated example that is available through VEX Robotics.

  • Students can share their pseudocode with the teacher for feedback prior to creating the project for feedback.

  • The approximate pacing of each section of the Stem Lab is as follows: Seek- 155 minutes, Play- 45 minutes, Apply- 15 minutes, Rethink- 65 minutes, Know- 5 minutes.

Further Your Learning


  • The <Greater than> and <Less than> Operators can be explicitly connected to inequalities.

Educational Standards

Standards for Technological Literacy (STL)

  • 9.H Modeling, testing, evaluating, and modifying are used to transform ideas into practical solutions (Rethink)

  • 11.I Make a product or system and document the solution (Rethink)

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

  • HS-ETS1-2 Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering (decomposition of project - Rethink)

Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA)

  • 1B-AP-10 Create programs that include sequences, events, loops, and conditionals (Play and Rethink)

  • 2-AP-10 Use flowcharts and/or pseudocode to address complex problems as algorithms (Rethink)

  • 2-AP-12 Design and iteratively develop programs that combine control structures, including nested loops and compound conditionals (Rethink)

  • 2-AP-19 Document programs in order to make them easier to follow, test, and debug (Rethink)

  • 3A-AP-21 Evaluate and refine computational artifacts to make them more usable and accessible. Testing and refinement is the deliberate and iterative process of improving a computational artifact. This process includes debugging (identifying and fixing errors) and comparing actual outcomes to intended outcomes. Students should respond to the changing needs and expectations of end users and improve the performance, reliability, usability, and accessibility of artifacts. For example, students could incorporate feedback from a variety of end users to help guide the size and placement of menus and buttons in a user interface (Play and Rethink)

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

  • RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept: provide an accurate summary of the text (Apply)

  • RST.9-10.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text (Play and/or Apply)

  • MP.5 (Rethink)

  • MP.6 (Seek, Play, and Rethink)

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)

  • 126.40.c.5.A Develop algorithms to control a robot, including applying instructions, collecting sensor data, and performing simple tasks (Play and Rethink)

  • 126.40.c.5.B Create maneuvering algorithms to physically move the location of a robot (Play and Rethink)

  • 126.40.c.5.C Create algorithms that provide interaction with a robot (Play and Rethink)

  • 126.40.c.5.G Apply decision-making strategies when developing solutions (Rethink)

  • 126.40.c.3.G Document a final design and solution (Rethink)

  • 126.40.c.3.H Present a final design, testing results, and solution (Rethink)

  • 111.39.c.1.C Select tools, including real objects, manipulatives, paper and pencil, and technology as appropriate, and techniques, including mental math, estimation, and number sense as appropriate, to solve problems (Rethink)