Build a pet robot

In this lesson plan with pet robots the pupils will become acquainted with social robots and how humans robot interact through social relations. More and more robots are being produced, that are supposed to interact with humans, and the relationship between humans and robots is called Human-Robot Interaction (HRI).  

This subject on pet robots has been worked out with a focus on cross-disciplinary topics within IT and Media, Technological Literacy and Innovation. This lesson plan tries to get the pupils to be curious, playful and creative. In this way they will acquire knowledge within the topic, they will be able to reflect and think critically, they will use their imagination and creativity, and they will be physically active and play.

By doing exercises with design and programming, the pupils will understand the importance of precise communication.

Pets and mythical creatures:

Most children in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade are easily motivated by working with pets, and they already have a pre-knowledge, that can be expanded through a lesson plan on robots. There are several pet robots available for purchase, which simulates some of the things, that live pets can do. The lesson plan on pet robots can also be expanded or narrowed down, by introducing the pupils to mythical creatures, that often have human-like abilities; they can talk, walk on two legs or in other ways act like people i.e. anthropomorphizing 

It could also be, that the pupils’ pets could be hybrids, so they have the abilities from two different animals. 

Cross-disciplinary topics:

IT and Design – 

Technological Literacy – 

Innovation – 

Objective for Danish 1st-2nd grade

Communication: 

Proficiency goal – The pupil can use spoken language in conversation and cooperation

IT and Communication:

Proficiency goal – The pupil can use IT for everyday communication

The pupil can put themself in the place of the sender or the receiver of the communication

Objective for Danish 4th grade

Communication:

The pupil is able to actively listen to others, and follow up with questions and response.

The pupil has  a knowledge of the purpose of listening and inquiring questions.

Production:

The pupil is able to assess the quality, purpose, structure, and layout of the product.

Objective for Crafts and Design

Area of competency:

The pupil can work with simple design processes related to producing their own product

Student handouts can be found in the folder Pet Robot

Lesson plan for 7 lessons

Lesson 1: What is a robot?

The pupils should think about, what they know about robots and find examples of robots.

The teacher asks questions and the pupils talk with each other in pairs. Joint talk in class. 

Questions: What is a robot? What is not a robot? What should a robot be able to do? What should a robot not be able to do? How does a robot look? Do you know any robots e.g. from films, games, books or comic books?

Robot: 

A robot is a machine—especially one programmable by a computer— capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically. Robots can be guided by an external control device or the control may be embedded within. Robots may be constructed on the lines of human form, but most robots are machines designed to perform a task with no regard to how they look.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot

Exercise: Find robots online

The pupils should use iPad/computer (or the teacher can show it on the smartboard). The pupils should find different robots, that are social and is able to interact with people.

Create a mindmap of the different robots.

Lesson 2: How to program a robot?

The pupils are introduced to programming and have to get an understanding of how a robot performs a task by following a program.

(You could print a step-by-step guide, that the pupils can look at while programming.)

Pre-understanding:

While the pupils work with the step-by-step guide, they write down the words, that they don’t understand. The teacher could also write down the words, that pupils are puzzled by. Together you can create a mindmap of the words and explanations.

Exercise: Analogue programming – pretend to be a robot

The teacher stands in front of the class, which then have to get the teacher to complete an action e.g. pour a glass of water or (as seen in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3TsVz_pJf4) make a jam sandwich.

This exercise illustrates how a robot carry out task from a program, and how specific you have to be when programming, so an action is carried out the way it is intended. This exercise makes it easier for the students to understand programming.

(This exercise can also be performed in pairs or bigger groups)

Introduction to Fable software.

  • Speak – text to speach
  • Facial- or voice recognition (this feature is not available as of yet, May 2019)

Question: What should a robot be able to say? What should a robot not be able to say? Whose voice should the robot respond to? Only your voice? Or your siblings or mother too?

Lesson 3: Ideas and and drafts for the pet robot

The pupils should use their existing knowledge about pets, and connect it with their knowledge of robots.

Paper folding exercise (print pupil handout)

Exercise: 

The pupils should individually think about, how a pet robot could look, and what it should be able to do. They have to draw their ideas (print pupil handout)

Then they are divided into groups, and have to tell the others in the group about their ideas.

Lesson 4: Design and prototype of a pet robot

The pupils continue in groups. They should make a pet robot and use te ideas generated from the previous exercise. (Print pupil handout)

The pupils should use a Fable robot to create a prototype of a pet robot. They should also use cardboard, markers/paint, masking tape, needle and thread, textile, and/or materials from nature (e.g. twigs or leaves).

Lesson 5: Programming and testing the pet robot

The pupils should program their pet robots in Blockly on an iPad. They have to program the robot’s movements and sounds.

(Step-by-step introduction to programming in Blockly)

They have to test the robot while programming, to find out if their designs and programs work.

Lesson 6: Presenting the pet robots

The pupils should show their pet robots to the rest of the class, and tell about how it looks and what it is able to do.

The pupils should take a photo or make a short video of their pet robot, to be shown during their presentation, as well as shown to their parents.

Another group will provide feedback on the presentation.

Focus questions: 

  1. What does it do? 
  2. What does it say?
  3. Which animals is it inspired from? 
  4. Which abilities does it have?
  5. Does it have special abilities that normal pets don’t? 
  6. What is it called?

For 4th grade:

Based on the feedback, the pupils have to re-design their pet.

Lesson 7

The pupils should program the pet robot to interact with them. What should be done to stop an action? Can you feed it? How will the robot respond to that? The pupils should make a drawing, where they write down what their robots should be programmed to do:

e.g.

When 20 seconds have passed, the robot should …

If the tail hits something, the robot should …

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