Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

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

ROBOTC Graphical: Introduction to Programming - LEGO® MINDSTORMS EV3

The ROBOTC Graphical: Introduction to Program LEGO® MINDSTORMS EV3 software includes videos, animations, and step-by-step lessons designed to help beginners learn behavior-based programming using the LEGO® MINDSTORMS EV3 hardware and ROBOTC 4.x for LEGO® MINDSTORMS.

Designed for Students and Instructors – Designed to encourage independent learning and problem-solving in pursuit of a goal. All lessons are self-contained, require a minimum of instructor supervision, and include many built-in opportunities to self-assess progress. Prior robotics experience not required or assumed!


Each project comprises a self-contained instructional unit in the sequence, and provides students with:

• An introduction to a real-world robot and the context in which it operates

• A LEGO® EV3 – scale version of the problem to solve with an EV3 robot

• Step-by-step guided video instruction that introduces key lesson concepts (e.g. Loops) by building simple programs that progress toward the end of unit programming challenge

• Built-in questions that give students instant feedback on whether they understood each step correctly, to aid in reflection and self-pacing

• Semi-guided “Try It!” exploration activities that expose additional uses for and variants on each robot behavior

• Semi-open-ended Mini-Challenges which ask students to use the skill they have just learned to solve a relevant small portion of the final unit challenge

• The Unit Challenge based on the original robot’s problem, for students to solve in teams as an exercise and demonstration of their mastery of the concept

• Robot Virtual World extension activities that are designed to significantly enhance student’s programming opportunities allowing them to program robots underwater, on an island, or in an outer space environment using the same commands that they use to program their LEGO® EV3 physical robot.

• How to control basic robot movements

1. Robot math

2. Sequences of commands

• Sensors and how they work

1. Touch sensor, sonar sensor, gyro sensor, and color sensor

• Intermediate concepts of programming

1. Program Flow Model

2. Wait Until Commands

3. Decision-Making Structures• Loops• If/Else• Repeated Decisions

• Teach troubleshooting strategies and engineering practices

1. Problem-solving strategies

2. Teamwork

ROBOTC Graphical Introduction to Programming the EV3 is well-suited for use at the beginning of a robotics class, as it will allow students to engage immediately and begin building core programming and problem-solving skills before undertaking more ambitious open-ended projects later in the course. This curriculum module should take approximately 6 weeks.

• Basic concepts of programming
• Commands
• Sequences of commands

• Intermediate concepts of programming
• Program Flow Model
• Simple (Wait For) Sensor behaviors
• Decision-Making Structures
• Loops
• Switches

• Engineering practices
• Building solutions to real-world problems
• Problem-solving strategies
• Teamwork

Introduction to Programming is designed for student self-pacing in small groups, preferably pairs. Each pair of students should work together at one computer, with one EV3 robot.

Curriculum tasks are designed to involve some – but not extensive – mechanical consideration, so that hands-on design tasks may remain authentic without becoming logistically difficult.

Solutions will not require parts in excess of those included in the 45544 EV3 Core set, so it is sufficient to leave each team with one kit (although access to additional parts may allow students to construct more creative solutions to problems).

A typical plan for an Introduction to Programming chapter is:

1. View the introductory video as a class, or in individual groups, then review the challenge task for the unit

• In a group, identify and note key capabilities the robot must develop, and problems that must be solved in individual engineering journals or class logs (e.g. on sticky paper posted on the walls)

2. Groups proceed through the video trainer materials at their own pace, following the video instruction directly, and constructing solutions to the Try It! and Mini-Challenge steps as they go

3. Each group constructs its own solution to the Unit Challenge

• Groups may be asked to document their solutions in journals or logs, and especially to explain how they overcame the key problems identified at the start of the unit

4. Assign the Reflective Question for the chapter

• Students answer the Reflection Question for the chapter individually, as an in-class or homework assignment

• Reflection Questions for each chapter can be found in the Reproducibles section of this Teacher’s Guide