Battle Bots



Name of Activity

Battle Bots


Laura Fradin, Jake Hellman


NXT, robotics, mindstorms, 5th grade, aguayo, JQS



Grade Level



4 Hours Total

Brief Description

Students will build and program a “fighting robot”

Lesson Objectives:

-learn mindstorms programming

-build with NXT kits

Materials Needed:

-NXT kits




-adhesive velcro

Preparation and Set Up:

-Make copies of worksheets.

-students will be working in pairs

-hand out NXT kits

Necessary Background

Students must have already had some experience with both building with the NXT pieces and Mindstorms programming


1) Explain the tasks and rules:


  1. Robots will be built with NXT pieces only (with the exception of a thumbtack and a small piece of velcro)

-the small piece of velcro will be used to attach the thumbtack to the robot on the day of the competition

  1. All robots must involve some programming done through MIndstorms
  2. Robots can use the sound sensor and/or the ultrasonic sensor. Light/Sound sensors will not be very useful for this assignment)
  3. You get to chose the location of both the thumbtack and the balloon (both will be added on competition day)
  4. You have three weeks to complete building and programming. The final week will be a competition day.

2) Have students complete the Planning Worksheet (see attached) and approve their design. This ensures that students have an idea of their future program and will help with the building process as well as forces them to think about their future Mindstorms program. 3) Hand out NXT kits only AFTER you have talked to them about their designs. 4) After groups are done building their robots, let them begin programming. 5) On the final day (Day 4) of this activity, have students attach their thumbtack and balloon where ever they would like on their robot. Make sure thumbtacks are securely fastened so no one gets hurt. 6) Create a bracket for their robot battles on the board. If there is time do more than one bracket to see how different robots combat different opponents.


Instead of having them pop balloons, you could have them “sumo wrestle” and have to push the other robot out of a circle/square of tape. This would probably be for older kids because it would require more intense programming including a method for the robot to remain in the circle/square.

Reference 1

Online Reference(s)

Previous Activity (if applicable)

Say Hello!

Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

NXT Robotics

1 comment on this post.
  1. Kenneth Westerman:

    We used this activity with a group of 7th grade students in an science elective class. The original intent was to complete the harder challenge above, with robots “sumo wrestling” while staying inside a circle. However, it took three classes (~2.5 hrs. total) to simply create some defense mechanism, so the “stay in the circle” aspect was removed. The end result were robots that moved forward and initiated some defense maneuver (e.g. a spinning arm) once the ultrasonic sensor registered another robot in the vicinity. Though the creation of awesome defense mechanisms was distracting in the beginning, especially for the boys, the competition aspect eventually helped the students become more invested in the precise behavior of their robot. The incorporation of the “fighting ring” would take either significantly more time, or would have to be done with students that have prior experience with NXT sensors.

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