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Robotix and Mathematix: A Great Relationship

Author: Anne Cherian


Overbrook High School

Year: 2014

Seminar: Robotics for Everyone!

Grade Level: 8-12

Keywords: algebra, Algebra 1, Algebraic Equations, Build interest in mathematics, high school math, Math, Math in Context, mathematics

School Subject(s): Algebra, Math, Technology

Students today are more exposed and are more adept at using electronic devices more than ever before. They use the cell phone more than the pen. The reality is technology has arrived, and it encompasses every part of one’s life, including the classroom. Not only is technology here today, but, as it continues to evolve, it will become even more of an integral part of our lives in the future. This is especially true in the classroom.

Darwin said, “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” Hence, when change is inevitable, it is wise to embrace it. The advantage is that today technology and resources are available and fairly affordable to enable us to implement ideas and concepts that help foster creativity and productivity. This unit focuses on developing reasoning and logical skills using flowcharting, programming, experimenting with and building robots. The tools used in this lesson, in addition to graphing calculators, smart boards and computer programs, are smart phones and robots.

This unit will be used as part of curriculum for Algebra 1 and Math Enrichment for ninth grade students in a comprehensive high school.

Download Unit: Cherian-Anne-unit.pdf

Did you try this unit in your classroom? Give us your feedback here.

Full Unit Text
Content Objectives

“The meaning of ‘knowing’ has shifted from being able to remember and repeat
information to being able to find and use it.” (National Research Council, 2007)
The availability of information today is not as difficult as it once was. In fact there
is much beyond our ability to even know what is available to us. It is an explosion of
information. Since this sea of information is available to us at our finger tips, mere
accumulation and acquisition of knowledge has become secondary to access and
evaluation of information which in turn helps in being productive and creative. Logical
and reasoning skills are therefore not just an asset but a necessity. In the light of this we
see the shift in education toward a deeper understanding of concepts and application in
real life situations. The focus of the much talked about common core is conceptual
Students today are more exposed and are more adept at using electronic devices
more than ever before. They use the cell phone more than the pen. The reality is
technology has arrived, and it encompasses every part of one’s life, including the
classroom. Not only is technology here today, but, as it continues to evolve, it will
become even more of an integral part of our lives in the future. This is especially true in
the classroom.
Darwin said, “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent,
but the ones most responsive to change.” Hence, when change is inevitable, it is wise to
embrace it. The advantage is that today technology and resources are available and fairly
affordable to enable us to implement ideas and concepts that help foster creativity and productivity. This unit focuses on developing reasoning and logical skills using
flowcharting, programming, experimenting with and building robots. The tools used in
this lesson, in addition to graphing calculators, smart boards and computer programs, are
smart phones and robots.
I teach Algebra 1 and Math Enrichment to ninth graders in an urban comprehensive
public high school. Since students are at different levels in their math skills when they
enroll it poses various challenges to prepare them for the standardized tests they must
take at the end of the year. The standardized tests are based on the common core. Since
the common core focuses on developing critical-thinking, problem-solving and analytical
skills it becomes necessary to instill and cultivate the growth of logical and reasoning
skills in students. Furthermore students need to work on activities that nurture and
revolve around these skills. The curriculum for Math Enrichment, though flexible, is
geared towards enabling students to be able to fill in the gaps of their learning levels and
also to prepare them for the Keystone exams which implement the Common Core
The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI): The CCSSI was a state led
effort coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief
School Officers. The Common Core concentrates on a set of skills and concepts that
students will learn in an organized way, both during the school year and through their
grades. The standards encourage students to solve real – world problems. It also
emphasizes the need to solve problems quickly and accurately beside its aim to foster
reasoning, modeling and student engagement. Most important, the standards require
students to demonstrate a deep conceptual understanding by applying them to new
situations. High school standards for mathematics are organized around 5 conceptual
categories: Number and Quantity, Algebra, Functions, Geometry, Statistics and
The performance of the American Students was significantly lower when compared
to students from several other industrialized nations represented at the international math
and science tests, and this created concern regarding the math and science education in
the schools across the nation. Therefore one of the concerns for creating a Common Core
was as stated by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano in 2006-2007 in the words of Dane Linn,
Vice-President of Business Roundtable, “The more she thought about it, she came to the
conclusion that America couldn’t lead the world in innovation and remain being
competitive if we didn’t have an internationally competitive education system.” As a
result, one of the reasons Common Core was introduced was to raise the level of
achievement in students across the nation.“America desperately needs more STEM students” was the title of the article by
Rodney C. Adkins, Senior Vice-President of IBM’s system and Technology group. In the
article Rodney talks about the declining percentage of scientists in the country and the
need to inspire students to pursue science and math courses to fill the need of the
industry. STEM standing for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics is the
buzzword in education today. Once again the emphasis on science and technology was
due to the fact that the percentage of American graduates in the STEM fields were
significantly far below their peers from other countries. Since the jobs available in the
future are for those in this field, the big question is, “Are we preparing our students for
these jobs?” The focus of STEM is to prepare students in the required field for the jobs
of tomorrow.
Since Common Core requires conceptual understanding of the subject, hands-on
experience is more than just an option. Students today live in a highly visual world, and
most of the students I teach use technology to a high degree. Hence it is natural for them
to be more inclined towards visual and kinesthetic learning. The traditional method of
teaching mathematical concepts with only the chalk and board poses many challenges in
terms of stimulating the students’ interest in math. The graphing calculators were
excellent as tools to enable students to visualize concepts such as linear, quadratic and
cubic functions besides parametric equations and trigonometric functions. Various
software such as Geometry Sketchpad and Google Sketch and the various interactive
software on the net further helped in the understanding of 2 dimensional and 3
dimensional mathematics. However since technology has made such astounding strides in
the last 50 years we now have resources available to even build a robot in the classroom.
It is neither a distant dream any longer, nor is something we are expecting to happen in
the future. With the availability of the Arduino board the possibilities for students to
design, build and explore is exciting and vast. The Arduino board is the ideal toolkit to
kindle and motivate their interest in the field of STEM.
Robotics is a branch of technology that deals with design, operation and
construction of robots. The word “robot” comes from the Czech word “robota” meaning
“slave.” It was first used in the play “Rossum’s Universal Robots,” written by the Czech
playwright Karl Capek in 1921. The play was about mechanical men that were built to
work on factory assembly lines, but who eventually rebel against their human “masters.”
Robotics is about action. Unlike in science fiction scenarios, most of the robots
today do not resemble humans. Nor is there a standardized robotic structure. Instead, the
robotic technology is embedded in common objects . Robots are used in most fields
today. Medical robots are used to perform surgery and are a big success since the robots
are able to use minimal invasive techniques thereby reducing recovery time and risks that
are usually associated with human error, not the technique employed. Industrial robots
are used to do welding, painting, ironing, assembly, pick and place, palletizing, product
inspection and testing with high endurance, speed and precision. “Curiosity” was NASA’s car-sized robot rover that was launched on November 2011 to explore the Gale
Crater on Mars. “Curiosity” was a part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Mission.
Today the commonly used cellphone is powerful enough that it could control a
robot, and cellphones could also act as robots giving them the name “cellbots.”
So what makes a robot? The scientific Discovery Channel has indicated that
anything can be a robot if it has the following fundamental elements: (1) a moveable
body – this could be in the form of wheels, limbs connected by mechanical joints or other
types of moveable segments. An actuator is needed for the robot to be activated. They
could use an electric motor, a hydraulic system, a pneumatic system or a combination of
all three as a power source to drive its actuators. Electric robots use batteries or extension
cords. Hydraulic robots need pumps to pressurize the hydraulic fluid and pneumatic
robots need air compressors. An electrical circuit that powers the electric motor, solenoid
or valves that control hydraulic or pneumatic systems carry the impulses to perform the
various operations; and (2) a reprogrammable brain – the computer is the mastermind that
controls the behavior of the robot and reprogramming the computer changes the behavior
of the robot. A robot becomes powerful with a high tech sensory system to gather
information about its environment and react to it.
Most robots have some level of intelligence. Some robots, however, are designed
specifically as artificial intelligent machines. Artificial Intelligence and robots are
closely related. For example here is an example of a robot that hit the headlines of a
newspaper: “Would You Take Orders From a ROBOT? An Artificial Intelligence
Becomes the World’s First Company Director.” This article screamed from the headlines
of the Daily Mail. The news was about a Hong Kong based Japanese capital firm Deep
Knowledge that named an AI to its board of directors. The robot named Vital (Validating
Investment Tool for Advancing Life Sciences) was chosen for its ability to pick up
market trends which is not easily picked up by humans. The news article went on to
mention that the robot already helped make two major investment decisions in life
science companies. When I read this article I had mixed feelings of alarm and incredulity
when I considered the implications of what it meant. Whatever the implications, it is
nevertheless the reality that Artificial Intelligence is the future, and we must prepare our
students to use and manage it.
So how do we define “Artificial Intelligence (AI)”? The encyclopedia Britannica
defines AI as the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform
tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The Merriam Webster defines AI as
the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. Scientists are
constantly working on increasing the level of intelligence in robots. The first AI software
was created to play chess but today it has gone beyond this as the article above
demonstrates. Machines are being created to make higher level decisions. Another intelligent software which students could relate to is Siri on Apple’s 4s iPhone. Though
Siri does not do complex level decision making, it could be categorized as a “lower level”
artificial intelligent software.
Robotics and AI and its connection with STEM:
Since robotics requires math, science and engineering skills students develop these
skills while interacting and working on robots. Robotics provides opportunities for
students to apply mathematical concepts to real life problems. For example, to calculate
how far the wheel of the robot car would go or how many rotations it would take to cover
2 feet, they would first have to measure the wheel’s diameter in inches, calculate the
circumference and therefore the distance travelled in one rotation. Next, using
proportions, they would calculate the number of rotations it would take for the wheel to
cover 2 feet. Students will also need to do the required conversions from feet to inches
and vice versa. In doing an activity of this manner students are able to visualize the
concepts, therefore accomplishing that which the standards of the Common Core hoped
to accomplish.
Another reason to include robotics into the math curriculum is to promote “Inquiry
Based Learning.” IBL is student centered and is centered around activities that make
abstract concepts more concrete and visual for students to gain a deeper understanding on
the subject. This falls in line once again with the Common Core standards. We all know
there is only one right answer for a math problem, but there is obviously more than one
way to obtain that right answer. Inquiry math is different from traditional math in that
students work with partners and whole-group instruction to construct mathematical
explanations that make sense to them. Students are presented with opportunities to
verbally explain their thinking processes to the teacher and class, and it is this exchange
of ideas that provides the foundation for true understanding of mathematical concepts
(Chapko & Buchko, 2004, p. 33).
The Stripling Model defines inquiry based learning as a cycle with six stages:
connect, wonder, investigate, construct, express and reflect. The connect stage deals with
previous knowledge or background and context. The wonder stage is to develop
questions and make predictions or hypothesis. The investigate stage is to find and
evaluate the information that answer the questions in the wonder stage. In the construct
stage, new understandings are connected to previous understandings and conclusions are
drawn about the questions and hypothesis. The penultimate stage is express. In this stage
the understanding gained in the previous stage is applied to a new context, new situation.
The final stage is reflect which is the stage where we ask new questions and reflect on
our own learning.One way to introduce robotics in the classroom is by having students work on a
hands-on project using the Arduino board – the reprogrammable brain of the robot. The
arduino is a simple microcontroller board with an open-source computing platform and
allows writing software for the board. Hence this makes it more powerful than a desktop
computer since it can sense and control more of the physical world. The arduino can be
used to develop interactive objects, it can take inputs from a variety of switches and
sensors and can also control a variety of lights, motors and other physical outputs. The
board can be assembled or even better can be purchased preassembled at a reasonable
There are many other microcontrollers available. However the Arduino has
advantages for teachers and students since it is relatively inexpensive in comparison to
the other models. Being a cross platform it runs on Windows, Macintosh OSX and Linux
operating systems. Since it has a simple programming environment it is easy to use for
My experience with the Arduino was during our seminar sessions on “Robotics for
Everyone.” We did three projects using the Arduino board. The projects were a great
hands-on experience for me personally. It was a long time since I did any kind of
circuitry, and I have never built anything or made anything with a microcontroller board.
This truly was exciting since I was getting to build something real with barely any
experience or know how on its working
Introduction to Circuits and the Arduino: Our first lab was an introduction to basic
electronic terms and definitions such as circuit, capacitor, resistor, inductor, light emitting
diode(LED), volts, ohms, photoresistor, potentiometer. Our first task was to build a
simple circuit using the breadboard. The breadboard sits on the arduino and is electrically connected by a conducting plate that runs beneath. We built a circuit with a 5V power
supply connected to the LED and a 1K resistor in series. The LED in the circuit light
up when connected to the computer using a USB cable. Using ohms law V=IR we could
regulate the flow of current I flowing through the LED in the circuit by changing the
resistance R. We next uploaded the code to have the LED blink. The code was written
using Arduino1.1 IDE
In part 2 of this lab we had the Boebot move forward, backward and sideways as in
a dance. The Boebot is a mini robot used in high school and college labs as a learning
tool for robotics. It primarily consists of a main circuit-board, microcontroller, a
breadboard, 2 servo motors to drive the wheels and a chassis that different parts can be
bolted onto. The servomotor (servo) is an electromechanical device in which an
electrical input determines the position of a motor. Once again we learned some
programming commands and logic skills to initialize and control the servo. The servo in
turn being connected to the wheels of the Boebot enables it to move in different
directions. Some of the commands and functions we used to accomplish this are sleft,
sright, sstop , pinMode, servo1.attach, servo1.write(sleft), delay(1000),
servo1.write(sright), delay(1000), servo1.write(sstop), delay(2000). In this session the
programming structure was using the loop wherein a set of operations is performed for a
given number of times
Our second lab was the flashlight follower. At this stage the Boebot has been
programmed to move in all directions (from the first lab). In this lab session the Boebot
should follow the beam from a flashlight. The Boebot should be able to detect the light
from both sides and turn to follow the beam when needed as seen in this video link: . The programming structure used
here is the “If-Then-Else.” This structure allows the Boebot to make decisions based on a
condition. As before we modified the code to perform the above task.
Our third lab session was the Minty Boost . This is a USB portable power. In other
words a battery powered USB charger. Since it is portable it could be used to charge a
cellphone anywhere. This session was particularly interesting: It came in a DIY kit,
required no programming, and could be used whenever. Most important, it seems to be a
project of interest to students since they are constantly trying to charge their cellphone in
the classroom. Hence could be viable project to motivate their interests.
The lab sessions were extremely informative, engaging and productive. Since it
had all the elements of STEM it seemed appropriate to take some of this experience into
the classroom and have students work on it. I therefore developed a mini curriculum unit
with this background. Robots as we have seen cannot function without written code which is the software
and functions as the brain. To appreciate and work with robots one has to be familiar with
programming and flowcharts are great graphic organizers that help in writing good
A flowchart is a diagram that shows step-by-step progression through a procedure or
system especially using connecting lines and a set of conventional symbols. Merriam
Flowcharts are useful when thinking about the logic in a problem. Flowcharts are
universal as it is not bound by a particular hardware or software — hence an excellent
way of communicating the logic of a system. It is a good tool for students as it acts as a
guide in the program development phase and helps in finding errors in the logic of the
program. The basic shapes used as symbols in a flow chart are:
This is the process box and indicates an action done by the program such as
calculating area of a circle or square

The arrows indicate the direction and sequence of process
The diamond shaped box indicates the decision the program takes and the
path it would take
The parallelogram indicates either an input into the program or an output
from the program
The connector connects a part of the flowchart to the other on the same page
The off page connector connects one part of the flowchart to another part but on
a different page
The rounded rectangular box or an oval shape box
indicates the start and end of a processComputer Program: A computer program or code is an organized and logical set of
instructions that has the computer perform a specific task. The code can be written in a
language such as FORTRAN, COBOL C, C++, JAVA, Assembly language or any of the
different languages for which a compiler is available. A compiler basically translates the
code to machine language for the computer to execute the instruction. Coding requires
good logical thinking and long tedious hours of labor, which, being the case, would not
interest all students. However, to overcome this there are software and programs which
are interactive and allow students to enjoy the process of coding. Some of them are
Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. The
software can be downloaded free of charge. Though it was originally designed for
students in the age group 8 to 16 it can be used for all ages. With Scratch students can
program their own creative stories, games and animations. It is a great software for
students to learn and hone their programming skills.
Another interesting programming toy is Sphero from the company Orbotix. Sphero is a
robotic ball that works with IOS 4.0+ or Android devices with operating system 2.2+
which can be also controlled by a smart phone or a tablet through the blue tooth feature.
There are various free apps that can be downloaded to the phone or tablet. The apps
controls the movement of the ball. Sphero is a robot hence has a microprocessor besides a
gyroscope and an accelerometer that communicates with the smart phone or the tablet
through the app , it also has 2 little rubber wheel which allows it to roll. It also has
sensors that give the yaw, pitch and roll information to whatever app that is being played
so that the computer knows the position of the Sphero at any time. The yaw, pitch and
roll are the 3 axis of the gyroscope that helps in keeping track of the exact position of an
object in space. The outer case of the Sphero is made of high-density polycarbonate
similar to Nalgene bottles, which makes it extremely strong and has been subjected to
various tests to prove its strength.
Using the phone one could control its direction of movement and speed. There are a
number of apps that can be downloaded to make it an extremely interesting fun toy.
Besides the apps one could also write a code to make it interact creatively.
My curriculum unit includes flowcharts, programming with Scratch and understanding
mathematical concepts with Sphero
To be able to think outside the box
To be able to think logically
To break down both mathematical and non mathematical problems into steps
To organize the steps using flowchartTo be able to explain in writing the process and solution to the problem
To be able to develop a story using flowcharts and further on using Scratch to develop a
digital story with animation
To develop programming skills by programming devices or toys such as Sphero
The standards listed here are as specified by the Common Core State standards
Generate and analyze patterns
Analyze ratio and proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and
mathematical problems
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4: Model with mathematics.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
CCSSMATH.CONTENT.HSA.CED : Create equations and inequalities in one variable
and use them to solve problems.Include equations arising from linear and quadratic
functions, and simple rational and exponential functions. Understand solving equations as
a process of reasoning and explain the reasoning.
Explain each step in solving a simple equation as following from the equality of numbers
asserted at the previous step, starting from the assumption that the original equation has a
solution. Construct a viable argument to justify a solution
Solve simple rational and radical equations in one variable, and give examples showing
how extraneous solutions may arise. Solve equations and inequalities in one variable.
Solve linear equations and inequalities in one variable, including equations with
coefficients represented by letters.
Solve quadratic equations in one variable.
Use the method of completing the square to transform any quadratic equation in xinto an
equation of the form (x – p)
= q that has the same solutions. Derive the quadratic formula
from this form.CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSA.REI.B.4.B
Solve quadratic equations by inspection (e.g., for x
= 49), taking square roots,. Solve
systems of equations
Solve systems of linear equations exactly and approximately (e.g., with graphs), focusing
on pairs of linear equations in two variables

Teaching Strategies

Math Journal: Every student will be required to keep a journal that records the date
and the lesson they have learned. This helps students to keep track of lessons they
have learnt and to make connections when a new lesson is taught.
The second strategy I encourage students to use is Structured Note Taking. Here students
are encouraged to take notes when listening to a presentation. This strategy emphasizes
purposeful reading and identifying essential information.
Writing while listening helps in sustained focus and retention of concepts. Concept Maps:
It is an excellent tool for connecting and summarizing ideas around a specific topic. I
encourage students to use at the introduction to a lesson and the end of the lesson as it ties
up new information with previous information.
Classroom Directed:
Cooperative learning: Students will be work in groups during an activity. This
helps in building group dynamic skills besides academics and also encourages peer
learning and sharing. Brainstorming/ Group Discussion is something they will use
after they have finished an activity and analyze the activity done to draw inferences.
This activity promotes critical thinking and increases reasoning skills.
Reciprocal Teaching: Students learn and discover for themselves by posing questions
based on the text, summarizing the content and predicting what will be next. The next
two strategies make use of technology and I plan to use it more frequently in my
classroom as I now have the resources. Internet based animation: This is an excellent
methodology for abstract concepts. A single picture/animation is worth a thousand words/
Brainstorming is great to get students involved and focused when finding solution to a
word problem. As a class we discuss all the steps required to solve the problem and other
ways of solving the same problemInquiry Based Mathematics- Instruction method where the teacher sets up a problem
making sure that everyone understands it. The students are then paired or grouped
according to their ability level. They work together to come up with a strategy to solve
the problem and present it as a group to the class.
Since the students have access to laptops and a smart board I wish to incorporate it
into the lesson and maximize its use.

Classroom Activities

Classroom Activities
Lesson 1: Flowcharts: 90-minute period
Objective: Students will learn the purpose of the various flowchart symbols. They will
learn to break down a problem into a sequence of steps and place it in the appropriate
The symbols and what each box represents will be explained using nonmathematical
examples. Students will be given the following guidelines to help develop a flowchart
Step1. Identify the input
Step 2: Identify the objective or the end result of the problem statement
Step 3: Identify the various process or list of tasks required to achieve the end result
Flowcharts can be drawn for any set of tasks. It can be a mathematical problem or even a
task we do everyday or a shopping trip
Example 1: Flow chart to shop for a pair of shoes to match the suit will be done in class
Example 2: This is a math example to print if a number is greater than 10, less than 10 or
more than 10. In this example the decision box indicates the two paths of flow if the
answer is true it chooses one path if the answer is false then it chooses the other path
Example 3: This example will be done to demonstrate the loop structure. To print a name
entered 5 times. Through this example students will understand the concept of keeping
count in a computer program. The process of printing will stop as soon as the counter has
reached 5.
Example 4: To find if a number is odd or even. The focus her will be on the logic of the
problem and the flow. The first step will be to accept the number –input box, the next
will be to divide it by 2-process box. If the integer part of the answer multiplied by 2
results in the same number then it will be even – decision box. The decision box will
have 2 paths; if it is true it will be even if not odd.Guided Practice: Students will learn to logically order the sequence of given non
mathematical operations on this interactive website for practice
Students will on their own develop flowcharts for the following 5 problems. They will
work in groups of 3 and each group will discuss and display their work to the rest of the
Flowchart for Example 2
Students will work on the following problems for homework.
1. Draw a flowchart to check if a number is divisible by 5.
2. Draw a flowchart to find the sum of numbers from 1 to 100.
3. Develop a flowchart as to how you would make a peanut butter jelly sandwich
4. Draw a flowchart to accept 3 numbers a, b, c and find the mean, range
5. Calculate the distance travelled by a car in 30 minutes. The program should accept the
measure of the circumference of the wheel, revolutions per minute.
Lesson 2: Programming with the software Scratch: 2 sessions: 90 minute each
Objective: a) Students will use the computer to work with the software Scratch and learn
the basic tools required to create a story, game or animation
Scratch can be downloaded free from the website
The following videos show the various tools that can be used to create the story. Students
can use these websites to learn how to use scratch. Each of the websites shows the
different capabilities of Scratch and gradually takes the students through he various levelsVideo 1
Video 2
Video 3
Video 4
Video 5
b) Students will access the following websites to learn to use Scratch and further practice
the use of the various functions and tools at every level to improve confidence in using
the software.
c) In the second session students will use Scratch to develop a story or game of their
choice. To help them organize their storyline and flow of thought they will be encouraged
use the flowchart techniques discussed in the first lesson. This session might take more
than 90 minutes as specified above, it might need 2 or 3 90 minute sessions for students
to complete their scratch project and write a narrative on what they had learned during
this activity.
Lesson 3: Applying mathematical concepts to control Sphero the robotic ball:
Minimum will be one 90-minute session: The sessions can be extended to an entire week
or more. The lesson will be done in a small group of 3 or 4 since it requires a Sphero for
each student also it allows for greater time and attention for each student. After students
have completed learning the basic operations and commands they could then work
independently on the programming.
Prior to having the students work on the robotic ball, the teacher needs to make sure the
ball is connected to the smartphone or ipad or computer though Bluetooth. This
connection is made possible by using the apps for Sphero, which can be downloaded free
The lessons plans for this lesson are available at
Thee are 6 Macrolab lessons beginning with introduction to Sphero and goes all the way
to OrbBasic programming level 2
Objective: Introduction to Sphero : Students will learn to move the robotic ball in all
Students will be able to show there is a linear relationship between time, speed and
distance. Students will program Sphero to move at a particular speed for a particular
amount of time and then measure how far it has gone.
Students will next manipulate the 3 entities to get 3 different formula for time, speed
and distance. Each in terms of the other.
Direct Instruction: Review on time, speed and distance. The relationship between the
three. Define linear relationship. Simple problems on time, speed and distance. To find
the third unknown when 2 others are given. The first thing students will have to do with Sphero each time it is turned on is, to set its
heading to 0 degrees . In other words it needs to be “aimed”, this means set the direction
of Sphero. The heading is not relative to the ball it is relative to the user.. Aiming is
done using the apps and by holding the finger on the icon to set the tail light . The tail
light is a blue rectangular light inside the ball. We can direct the blue tail light of Sphero
point directly to us, this indicates 0 degree heading and will go directly in the direction
opposite to us or in the forward direction. Once it has been oriented it can follow the
users instructions to move in the specific direction. The heading can be specified down
to 1 degree.
Students will follow the step by instructions given in the lesson and complete the
accompanying worksheet with this lesson. In doing this lab activity students will:
Create a one-line program that moves Sphero at a steady speed for a specified amount of
Perform measurements to determine the distance traveled.
Perform division to compare different measurements
Create a two-line program that moves Sphero to a certain position and then moves it back
to where it started.


Annotated Bibliography
Teacher References:
Holt Algebra 1 :
The prescribed Algebra 1 text book
( An article on the need for more STEM students)

(About STEM and the connection with Robotics)
(An article “the interplay between Mathematics and Robotics” ,National Science
(Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy – Mathematics applied when experimenting with
(All about the arduino is given here)

(Teaching Kids to think using Scratch)
(What do the different flowchart shapes mean)
(More on Flowcharts)
(Students can use this website to practice flowcharts)
(c programing )
( a good source for beginners in programming )
Articles and websites for Inquiry based learning
(an article on inquiry based learning versus traditional based learning)


(Common Core Standards)
(Sphero : All the macrolab lesson plans to use Sphro in the classroom along with the
worksheet and teacher guides ) download Scratch)

(A guided tour to using Sphero)
Student References: