Name of Activity Silly Walks
Author Laura Fradin, Jake Hellman
Keywords NXT, robotics, brick programming, 5th grade, aguayo, wheels, programming. JQS
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Build and Program a robot that uses something other than wheels to move.
Lesson Objectives: -Understand brick programming
-practice building with NXT kits/pieces
-using non-traditional ways to make the robot move (NO CARS!)
Materials Needed: -NXT kits
-projector (to demonstrate on brick programming and show example video)
Preparation and Set Up: Show kids a video that has examples of Silly (
Procedure 1) Show kids how to attach the motors to the brick. Explain that the motors must be attached tot eh brick in order for the whole thing to move. 2) Demonstrate how to program the robot to go forward (turn it on, NXT program, forward, empty, forward, empty, stop/loop). Make sure each student does this and that their motors work. Explain that it is the ORANGE part of the motor that moves to make sure that things are attached to that. 3) Hand out kits. 4) Allow students to build and test as they build. Help students as needed. 5) Present at the end of class
Extensions: -use more or less motors
-make the robot walk in a way that mimics a real animal
Reference 1

4 Responses to Silly Walks

  1. We did Silly Walks with our 4th grade classroom, Ms Cannatella’s class, at Healey. We started the class by showing them videos of silly walks from the Dr E’s website and also one on youtube. The kids loved these and got them really excited. Next we showed them a couple of examples we had made and brought in. They had the motors attached in different ways and had slightly different legs. We wanted to give the students some ideas on different ways to make them. When they were done building, we showed each group individually how to program their brick which included a forward command, empty boxes, and then the loop command. The activity went pretty well but a lot of the robots came out looking like the ones we showed them. Once they did one like that, we encouraged them to try adding things, like longer legs, to make them different and to see if they moved in another way. This was our third class and I think it was a good way to introduce the kids to programming (even very simply on the brick) and to incorporating the brick into their robots. It also opened their eyes in terms of getting their robots to move without using wheels.

  2. When we did Silly Walks with our 5th grade classroom where we have students with a range of programming abilities. We gave very little instruction (perhaps even too little), so the activity really challenged the class to try new things and think creatively. At first they were very frustrated so, we ended up giving the kids almost 3 hours for Silly Walks. Those groups that finished first did races against one another so that they stayed engaged throughout.

    It’s important to find a balance, give the kids enough information so that they have a starting point, but don’t give them so much that you might sacrifice diversity of solutions.

    *** TOOK 2-3 CLASS PERIODS!!!!

  3. We did Silly Walks with an 8th grade classroom where the students’ ability and motivation had a wide range. This activity was very challenging for the class. They had a hard time understanding how to build a vehicle that moves without wheels and they also had a hard time attaching motors and building a sturdy design that would not fall apart during testing.

    This challenge took 2-3 class periods.

    Instead of an introduction activity, I think this activity should be done after students have been introduced to LEGOs.

  4. In our 5th grade classroom at JQS, we introduced Lego NXT’s with this activity. We had a program that powered two motors to rotate continuously already downloaded to the brick . We then had the students use the Lego kits to move the brick forward without using wheels. By having the program already made, we were able to complete this activity in a 1 hour class period.

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