Brief Description:

Students build and program a robot that uses something other than wheels to move.

Grades: 4-9

Time: 1 hour

Keywords: NXT robotics, on-brick programming, basic programming

Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will understand on-brick programming
  • Students will practice building with NXT kits/pieces
  • Students will be able to think outside of the box and think of non-traditional ways to make the robot move (NO CARS!)


  • NXT robotics kits


Building Robots:

  1. In this activity, students are challenged to build a robot that can move without the use of wheels.
  2. Show students how the motors work, indicating which part actually spins and what parts are used to attach to the brick. The motors must be physically attached to the brick in order to move.
  3. Once physically attached to the brick, students must run a wire to connect the motor to the brick. This allows the brick to communicate with the wire. (This similar to our brains being attached to our limbs through nerves). The motors must be plugged in ports B and C in order to work for on-brick programming.
  4. Allow students to build. After students have built their robots, introduce on-brick programming so they can test their robots’ Silly Walks.

On-brick Programming:

  1. Introduce on-brick programming. On-brick programming is a method to program NXT robots without the use of a computer. Because there is no computer, the code is significantly more simplistic than mindstorms code. To get to the programming blocks on the brick, find this icon:
  2. To continue, click the orange button in the center of the NXT. That will then bring you to this screen
  3. Continue again by clicking the orange button, bringing you to this screen:
  4. On brick programming contains 5 action blocks which can be filled with actions or wait-fors. To scroll through different action/wait-for commands, use the arrow buttons on the brick
    1. There are 15 action commands
    2. There are 9 wait-for commands
    3. Block  1 : Action (move forward, backward, turn, or make a sound).
    4. Block  2 : Wait-For (time or sensor or blank).
    5. Block  3 : Action – same as before.
    6. Block  4 : Wait-For – same as before.
    7. Block  5 : Stop or Loop.
  5. Here is an example program. To run the program, hit the center orange button.

Extensions and Modifications:

  • Challenge students to use 1 or 3 motors.
  • Challenge the student to make the robot walk in a way that mimics a real animal



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