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Robot Rescue!


Core National Curriculum links

Computing, Maths

Other National Curriculum links

English - Storytelling / instructional writing

Main engineering principles

  • Pupils are engaged in the purposeful practical problem solving
  • Pupils draw on a range of thinking skills and personal capabilities


Less than a lesson or about a lesson


Visualising, Improving

EDP stages

Create, Improve

Resources required

Moving robots, eg Bee-bots / Pro-bots / Sphero / Lego Mind-storm / Raspberry Pi (depending on availability / level of child).

Summary of activity

A easy to set up introduction / problem solving lesson, where pupils work in small groups to program a moving 'robot' to complete a 'rescue'.

To open the activity

NB: This lesson is written as for a KS2 audience, but can be adapted creatively according to age / ability. 
Begin by introducing a 'victim' (princess in the tower / stranded astronaut / injured traveller) in the form of a teddy / inanimate object which is placed at the centre of the classroom. Starting from different locations within the classroom, groups of pupils are challenged to 'rescue' the victim by being the first or closest robot to reach the 'victim' within a certain time frame.

The main activity

Set up the room, ensuring greater complexity by placing obstacles in the paths of the teams, (lego bricks, classroom items etc) which are not allowed to be 'touched' by the robot.
Groups then to be given time to practice and refine their coding, with the remit that they must then all begin from their starting points at the same time. Encourage recording of the instructions being used so that pupils are not just randomly guessing.
Once sufficient time has passed, allow the teams to test out their programmes to find a winning team.

Challenge and support

Challenge more-able pupils by placing them further away from the centre, or putting more obstacles in their paths. A few 'dropped' items in the paths of the robots mid-lesson can also encourage further adapting.

To finish the activity

Use the EHoMs wheel to encourage discussion about which principles the pupils have used during the session. Encourage evaluation of the processes and give pupils another chance to complete the task again if possible.

Learn from me (what worked well for us)

Make sure that each robot is sufficiently charged for the practice and testing phases. You don't want one stalling half way through the final test!

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