Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This is a STEAM lesson, which adds the Arts to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). To find out more about STEAM and STEM click here. This lesson forms part of the Empathise phase of a Design Thinking unit focusing on robotics, but can also be implemented as a stand alone session. In this lesson, students learn about the history and use of robots and robotics. They then explore a robotic device, developing their understanding of how to manipulate it by experimenting with associated software.

This STEAM lesson demonstrates how science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics are interrelated. The lesson requires students to draw on and develop skills from all areas to complete their project.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand the broad and undefined nature of the field of robotics.
  • Students have a general understanding of the history of robotics.
  • Students are familiar with programming techniques of a robotic device.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCommunity EngagementCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingDigital LiteracyEntrepreneurshipProblem FindingProblem SolvingSocial SkillsTeam Work

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 and 6 Digital Technologies

  • Examine the main components of common digital systems and how they may connect together to form networks to transmit data (ACTDIK014)
  • Design, modify and follow simple algorithms involving sequences of steps, branching, and iteration (repetition) (ACTDIP019)
  • Implement digital solutions as simple visual programs involving branching, iteration (repetition), and user input (ACTDIP020)

Year 5 Mathematics

  • Solve problems involving multiplication of large numbers by one- or two-digit numbers using efficient mental, written strategies and appropriate digital technologies (ACMNA100)
  • Describe, continue and create patterns with fractions, decimals and whole numbers resulting from addition and subtraction (ACMNA107)
  • Choose appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass (ACMMG108)
  • Calculate perimeter and area of rectangles using familiar metric units (ACMMG109)
    Use a grid reference system to describe locations. Describe routes using landmarks and directional language (ACMMG113)
  • Estimate, measure and compare angles using degrees. Construct angles using a protractor (ACMMG112)

Year 6 Mathematics

  • Select and apply efficient mental and written strategies and appropriate digital technologies to solve problems involving all four operations with whole numbers (ACMNA123)
  • Continue and create sequences involving whole numbers, fractions and decimals. Describe the rule used to create the sequence (ACMNA133)
  • Connect decimal representations to the metric system (ACMMG135)
  • Convert between common metric units of length, mass and capacity (ACMMG136)
  • Solve problems involving the comparison of lengths and areas using appropriate units (ACMMG137)
  • Investigate, with and without digital technologies, angles on a straight line, angles at a point and vertically opposite angles. Use results to find unknown angles (ACMMG141)

Year 5 English

  • Understand that patterns of language interaction vary across social contexts and types of texts and that they help to signal social roles and relationships (ACELA1501)
  • Understand how to move beyond making bare assertions and take account of differing perspectives and points of view (ACELA1502)
  • Clarify understanding of content as it unfolds in formal and informal situations, connecting ideas to students’ own experiences and present and justify a point of view (ACELY1699)
  • Use interaction skills, for example paraphrasing, questioning and interpreting non-verbal cues and choose vocabulary and vocal effects appropriate for different audiences and purposes (ACELY1796)
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations for defined audiences and purposes incorporating accurate and sequenced content and multimodal elements (ACELY1700)

Year 6 English

  • Understand that strategies for interaction become more complex and demanding as levels of formality and social distance increase (ACELA1516)
  • Participate in and contribute to discussions, clarifying and interrogating ideas, developing and supporting arguments, sharing and evaluating information, experiences and opinions (ACELY1709)
  • Use interaction skills, varying conventions of spoken interactions such as voice volume, tone, pitch and pace, according to group size, formality of interaction and needs and expertise of the audience (ACELY1816)
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements for defined audiences and purposes, making appropriate choices for modality and emphasis (ACELY1710)

Syllabus outcomes: MA3‑1WM, MA3‑2WM, MA3‑3WM, MA3‑5NA, MA3‑6NA, MA3‑8NA, MA3-9MG, MA3-10MG, MA3-11MG, MA3-12MG, MA3-16MG, MA3-17MG, EN3-1A, EN3-8D.

General capabilities: Literacy, Numeracy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability, Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability.

Cross-curriculum priority:  Sustainability.

Relevant parts of Year 5 and 6 Digital Technologies Achievement Standards: Students explain how the features of technologies influence design decisions and how digital systems are connected to form networks. Students describe a range of needs, opportunities or problems and define them in terms of functional requirements. They collect and validate data from a range of sources to assist in making judgements. Students generate and record design ideas for specified audiences using appropriate technical terms, and graphical and non-graphical representation techniques including algorithms. They plan, design, test, modify and create digital solutions that meet intended purposes including user interfaces and a visual program.

Relevant parts of Year 5 Mathematics Achievement Standards: Students solve simple problems involving the four operations using a range of strategies. They check the reasonableness of answers using estimation and rounding. Students identify and describe factors and multiples. They identify and explain strategies for finding unknown quantities in number sentences involving the four operations. Students continue patterns by adding and subtracting fractions and decimals. They use appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass, and calculate perimeter and area of rectangles. Students use a grid reference system to locate landmarks. They measure and construct different angles.

Relevant parts of Year 6 Mathematics Achievement Standards: Students solve problems involving all four operations with whole numbers. They solve problems involving the addition and subtraction of related fractions. Students connect decimal representations to the metric system and choose appropriate units of measurement to perform a calculation. They solve problems involving length and area. Students describe combinations of transformations. They solve problems using the properties of angles.

Relevant parts of Year 5 English Achievement Standards: Students listen and ask questions to clarify content. They develop and explain a point of view about a text, selecting information, ideas and images from a range of resources. They make presentations which include multimodal elements for defined purposes. They contribute actively to class and group discussions, taking into account other perspectives.

Relevant parts of Year 6 English Achievement Standards: Students compare and analyse information in different and complex texts, explaining literal and implied meaning. They select and use evidence from a text to explain their response to it. They listen to discussions, clarifying content and challenging others’ ideas. They show how specific details can be used to support a point of view. Students create detailed texts elaborating on key ideas for a range of purposes and audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using a variety of strategies for effect.

Topic: STEAM.

Unit of work: Learning Robotics – Primary.

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – Much of this lesson involves exploration of and experimentation with robots. Students are encouraged to investigate independently and share their discoveries with each other to support others to develop skills and understandings.

Resources required: Device capable of displaying video to the class. Sphero SPRK+ (or alternative programmable robot), minimum one per 3 students. Device capable of running Sphero Edu App, e.g. iPad, iPod Touch (or required software for your robot), one for each robot. A variety of reusable construction materials and additional equipment to create contexts/challenges for robots (e.g. Duplo, blocks, rulers, tennis balls, small hoops, etc.). Student Worksheet (one copy per student).

Keywords: robot, robotics, Sphero, SPRK+, digital technology, coding, programming, angles, length, code, block code, JavaScript, drawing, STEAM, STEM.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions:

  • ... Students understand the broad and undefined nature of the field of robotics.
  • ... Students have a general understanding of the history of robotics.
  • ... Students are familiar with programming techniques of a robotic device.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... explain what robotics is.
  • ... describe key developments in the history of robotics.
  • ... use an App to control a robotic device.
  • ... create a range of commands which control movement, sound and light.
  • ... explore different methods for giving commands.

Teacher content information:


Why should you teach robotics, you ask?
In his article Five reasons to teach robotics in schools, Leon Sterling suggests reasons to be:

  • Children find it fun.
  • It is an effective way to introduce programming.
  • Skills developed are useful to future employment.
  • It suits children with a range of abilities.
  • It demystifies complex technology.

These factors are also r

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: “Robotics and other combinations will make the world pretty fantastic compared to today” - Bill Gates

Activity 1 - Prior Knowledge

Answer the following questions to show your existing knowledge about robots and robotics. You will refer back to this information at the end of your unit to reflect on your learning.

Explain what the term ‘robotics’ refers to. 

What is a robot?

Draw pictures to show what robots can look like...

Explain how a robot works.



Activity 2 - The Design Thinking Process

Fill in the table below to explain the design thinking process and what you will be doing throughout your robotics exploration.

Design Thinking phase Explanation of the phase What you will be doing during this phase


Complete the following to reflect on your learning and observations during this lesson:

What robot did you use in this lesson?


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