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Mrs. Valgos' Amazing Race

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Keywords: Engineering, Cubelets. Robots
Subject(s): Reading, Writing, Science, Technology, Math, English/Language Arts
Grade 5
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Julien Elementary School, Turlock, CA
Planned By: Jill Valgos
Original Author: Jill Valgos, Turlock
Mrs. Valgos’ Amazing Race

Lesson Overview

Grade – 5th
Time – 180 minutes (4 - 30 minute sessions, 1 – 60 minute session)
Prep Time – 15 minutes (gather materials needed)
Cubelet kit
Poster board

Lesson Goals - The goal of the lesson is to introduce the studentsto problem solving through engineering design. The students will be exploring the basics of robot coding to solve problem.

Essential Question - What steps will your team need to take in order to win the Amazing Race?

21st Century Skills
Critical Thinking
Creative Thinking


3-5-ETS1 Engineering Design Students who demonstrate understanding can:
3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
3-5-ETS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
Research on a problem should be carried out before beginning to design a solution. Testing a solution involves investigating how well it performs under a range of likely conditions. (3-5-ETS1-2)
At whatever stage, communicating with peers about proposed solutions is an important part of the design process, and shared ideas can lead to improved designs. (3-5-ETS1-2)
Tests are often designed to identify failure points or difficulties, which suggest the elements of the design that need to be improved. (3-5-ETS1-3)
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
Different solutions need to be tested in order to determine which of them best solves the problem, given the criteria and the constraints. (3-5-ETS1-3)


Welcome to Mrs. Valgos’ Amazing Race. You will be divided into eight teams. Your mission will be the first team to help their robot complete the race. Here is what your team will need to do
Explore and learn how to use the blocks in the Cubelet Kits. The kit contains Action cubes, Sense cubes and Think cubes. You will need to figure out how putting these blocks together in different combinations will make the robot move.
Using the posterboard, markers and rulers provided for you,draw a course for your robot to navigate. The course needs to start at the top of the poster board and end at the bottom of the poster board. The course needs to include a minimum of two right turns and two left turns.
You need to program your robot complete the course.
The robot may be reconfigured during the race to complete the course.
Your team will be given 30 minutes a day for the next four days to learn how to use the robot, draw the course, and program the robot to complete the course.


After four days of practice Mrs. Valgos’ Amazing Race will be held. All teams in the class will be competing against each other. Each team will be timed to see how quickly their robot can complete the race. The robot needs to successfully complete the course. If your robot goes off course, the course will need to be restarted. Your time will include all the attempts made to complete the course. The team with the robot who took the least amount of time will be the winners of Mrs. Valgos’ Amazing Race.


The students will write a narrative essay about the experiences using effective technique, descriptive details, and sequence of steps in the event. The essay will be scored using a four point rubric.
4 - The essay was well written and included all critical elements of the assignment. The student was able to explain the process their group went through while completing the project.
3 - The essay was well written and included most of the critical elements of the assignment. The student was mostly able to explain the process their group went through while completing the project.
2-The essay contained some errors and only included some of the critical elements of the assignment. The student had difficulty explaining the process their group went through while completing the project.
1-The essay contained a significant amount of errors and only included a few of the critical elements of the assignment. The student was not able to explain the process their group went through while completing the project.

The teacher and students will brainstorm other ways that the Cubelets could be used in their classroom.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Students will write an essay describing how they programmed their robots to complete a course, Students can write instructions for another class to program the robots.
Materials: Cause and Effect
Other Items: 1 Cubelets Robot Blocks Twelve Kit, $219 each, total of $219.00