Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

Use educational affordances of robotics to create CS-STEM opportunities for all learners

November 01, 2021

New Virtual Robot Curriculum - Coding and Computational Thinking with Virtual SPIKE Prime

By Jesse Flot

After several months of hard work, our team is proud to share a version of our Coding and Computational Thinking with SPIKE Prime curriculum which is fully enabled through an embedded virtual robot simulation and programming environment.

The Coding and Computational Thinking with Virtual SPIKE Prime curriculum is broken down into 8 units: Getting Started, Programming the Hub, Robot Movement, Wait Until & Sensors, Loops, Discrete Decisions, Capstone: Subterranean Challenge, and Continuous Decisions. Over 75 programmable virtual environments are embedded throughout, allowing students to learn big ideas in robotics, coding, computational thinking, and mathematics. 


The virtual robot itself contains simulated versions of the programmable motors, sensors, and other components. A built-in sensor dashboard allows students and teachers to quickly inspect the values the robot sees, speeding up the process of developing and troubleshooting their code. 


Our new virtual-enabled curriculum takes a just-in-time and embedded approach. As students make progress through the course (which the CS2N Learning Management System keeps track of), CS2N ensures sure that the student is presented with the corresponding instructions, virtual environment and programming interface. Better still, there is no file or submission management - CS2N automatically saves student code progress with each and every activity so that they never lose it and teachers never have to track it down. 


Virtual activities can be run as many times as the student needs to foster their understanding, and their completion is automatically awarded so that students know when to move on. We have a free sample from the curriculum - the Virtual SPIKE Prime - Iris Rover Challenge, that teachers and students can try out to get a feel for how everything works. These materials are a portion of the materials from the full Getting Started and Robot Movement badges. 


As always, we’ve kept the pricing of the full curriculum as inexpensive as possible, in order to continue to develop and support these tools while meeting the challenging constraints faced by schools. A single-license to the software is on sale for just $9 (from $12) and a bundle of 12 licenses is just $100 (from $130)Every license purchase includes the most up-to-date version of the virtual curriculum.

Once they have a license, teachers and students can use the curriculum whether they’re at home, school, or anywhere else in the world. All they need is an Internet-connected Chromebook, Windows PC, or Mac. (The curriculum can also run in “desktop mode” of many mobile browsers, but keep in mind that the experience was optimized for devices with a minimum screen size and keyboard.)