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. In this lesson, students explore the different coding methods that can be used to instruct a robot. They explore associated Apps and apply block coding, drawing and other available methods to create an array of movements. They then apply their learning to guide their robot to complete a range of challenges.

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.

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 various programming and coding methods they can use to instruct a robot.
  • Students understand how contexts can be created to develop fun and engaging robotics activities for themselves and their peers.

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 – Years 5 & 6.

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – The level of support required will vary based on students’ prior experience with robotics, programming and coding.

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. Maze tape (or masking tape if a similar item is not included in your robot pack). 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.). Two trays: one filled with water, one filled with sand. Plastic cups (minimum 4). Target Sheet (one per student). Robot Tasks worksheet. Student Worksheet (one 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 various programming and coding methods they can use to instruct a robot.
  • ... Students understand how contexts can be created to develop fun and engaging robotics activities for themselves and their peers.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... use drawing, block coding and free play controls to command a robot.
  • ... explain the different processes they use to control their robot.
  • ... problem solve to determine distance, angles, speeds and movements required for their robot to successfully navigate prescribed contexts.
  • ... use their robot in a range of collaborative contexts.

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 w
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Student Worksheet

Exploring Robotics to Educate the Community

In this activity, you will be exploring the Blocks and Draw programming processes that can be used to control your Sphero SPRK+.

  1. Open your Sphero Edu App.
  2. Click the ‘Activities’ section at the bottom.
  3. At the top of the screen, select ‘Sphero.’
  4. Here you will find the tasks for you to complete in this activity.

Complete the activities in the following order:

  1. Blocks 1
  2. Blocks 2
  3. Blocks 3
  4. Draw 1
  5. Draw 2
  6. Draw 3

If you complete these tasks ahead of time you may have a look through other activities in the ‘Sphero’ section to see what other kinds of tasks are available.

When you have completed the tasks, complete the sections below:

Explain the Draw programming feature...


Explain the Block coding feature...



Robot Challenges

Complete the six activities below in the order of your choice to learn more about how to program and control your robot:


Complete the following to reflect on your learni

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