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The Robotics Obstacle Course Challenge

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Keywords: Robotics, Research Paper, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Engineering
Subject(s): Reading, Writing, Technology, Robotics
Grades 6 through 8
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Freedom Middle School, Stone Mtn, GA
Planned By: Carla Kabwatha
Original Author: Carla Kabwatha, Stone Mtn
It is stipulated that the Writing and Research Processes were taught in first semester, 2017. Both processes will be authentically applied second semester within the Robotics Obstacle Course Project. Implementation will proceed as follows:

• Students will take a Unit Pre-Test.
• Students will be grouped in heterogeneous groups of four.
• Students will be required to maintain individual technical journals for the duration of the project.
Journals will include concepts/skills learned, unanswered questions, team challenges, and
descriptions of how problems were solved.
• Students will research information about three engineering domains and three colleges that offer
engineering degrees. All notes taken from the readings will be recorded on note cards.
• Students will use info from their note cards to complete research papers.
• Students will build a Line Robot after deconstructing the manual.
• Each team’s Line Robot will compete in the obstacle course. With little teacher intervention,
students must use collaborative, critical thinking, and problem solving skills to complete required
tasks. (Line Robots contain light sensors that are designed to read black lines drawn with markers or
electrical tape.) Teacher will design an obstacle course consisting of lines/squares/circles and sand
traps. Teams must successfully navigate the entire course to win. Each group will have three
chances to complete the course. The robot with the fastest time in each class will win the
• Teams will complete a project board that includes research papers, project design timelines,
illustrations/photographs, and engineering domains/colleges.
• Students will take the end of unit post-test.
• 84 students will travel to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. They will participate in
a hands-on STEAM lab activity, tour the museum, fly simulated spacecraft, and view interactive
scientific presentations.

The following Georgia Standards of excellence will be met or exceeded by the end of the project via
the manner indicted:

ELAGSE6SL1 – Students will engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Evaluation Tool: Team Collaboration Rubric

Work - Time Task: Students will work in groups of four to complete all unit components. When disagreements and conflicts arise, students must use democratic procedures to solve problems and get tasks done.

ELAGSE6L4 – Students will determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple meaning words and phrases based on grade 6 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

Evaluation Tool: Robotics Vocabulary Analysis Sheet

Work -Time Task: Students must complete the Vocabulary Analysis Sheet that identifies unit vocabulary.

ELAGSE6RI1 – Students will cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Evaluation Tool: Note Cards

Work -Time Task: Students will complete at least twelve note cards. Data on cards must relate to approved robotics research topics.

ELAGSE6W4 – Students produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Evaluation Tool: Expository Essay

Work -Time Task: Each student must write a two-three page research paper, based on their topic selections. The media specialist will be asked to provide resource tutorials so that students can readily locate site-based engineering texts and online sites.

ELAGSE6W6 – Students will use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of key boarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.

Evaluation Tool: Typed Research Papers

Work -Time Task: Students will use the internet to complete research and type essays.

ELAGSE6L1 – Students will demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Evaluation Tool: Journal Entries, Research Papers, Project Board

Work-Time Task: Students will write daily technology reflections upon entry into the classroom, write expository essays using Standard English and create content for project boards using proper conventions.

ELAGSE6RI7 – Students will integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

Evaluation Tool: Robot Construction Rubric

Work-Time Task: Via reading, analyzing, and following multi-step commands within the robot construction manual, students will build a Line Robot.

Activity Estimated Start Date Estimated End Date
Robotic Journal Entries 04/23/2018 - 05/11/2018
Writing Process Review 04/23/2018 - 04/24/2018
Research Process Review 04/25/2018 - 04/26/2018
Research Papers 04/26/2018 - 05/01/2018
Robot Construction 05/02/2018 - 05/09/2018
Project Boards 05/10/2018 - 05/11/2018
Robotic Speed Challenge 05/15/2018 - 05/16//2018
Space Camp Field Trip 05/18/2018 - 05/18/2018
Post Test 05/21/2018 - 05/21/2018


The culminating one day field trip to Huntsville’s Space Camp completes the unit. The end result is a confident student achiever who is not only captivated by the endless possibilities of a future in engineering, but one who has increased aptitude because of the numerous hands-on, critical thinking, and problem solving opportunities provided throughout the project.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
The role of primary, middle, and secondary education must evolve to meet the challenges and changes of a 21st century society. I am convinced that the inclusion of engineering curriculum in schools with at – risk populations is the most effective and productive method to achieve technological equity and self-sufficiency. Several of my former students and one parent have selected engineering as their college majors; I hope these numbers continue to increase. Finally, my students’ reading standardized test scores consistently exceed expectations. They excel because I infuse engineering into their literacy instruction. It is an extremely effective way to teach critical thinking, problem solving, and collaborative skills.
Students will write an essay about their space camp experience and the effect(s) it had on their future college and career plans.
Materials: Integrating Technology, Flash/USB Drives, Mobile Labs
Other Items: 42 Batteries (AA) (4 Pack) (Kitsusa.net, $1.00 each, total of $42.00
2 Coach Bus (Leisure Time Charters) , $1925.00 each, total of $3850.00
42 Line Tracking Robots (Vendor: Kitsusa.net), $16.99 each, total of $713.58
42 Project Boards (Walmart), $2.77 each, total of $116.34
1 Markers/Tape/Crafts (Walmart) , $40.00 each, total of $40.00
10 Tool Kit (Kitsusa.net), $9.95 each, total of $99.50
84 Student Entry (Huntsville Space Camp) , $25.00 each, total of $2100.00