Week 5

Session 1

Guiding Question

  • How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


  • How can we program our robot for detecting water on the Mars simulation?


  • Explain the final competition rules.

  • Explain functions needed for the robot to detect water in a simulated Mars environment.

  • Modify the robot to meet the specified needs.

CT Components


  • Students upgrade their robot to a final robot.

Data Collection

  • Students discuss and make a plan in a group about how to modify their robots for the final competition.


  • Students discuss the functions and locations for various sensors on the final robot.

Entry Event

5 minutes

Teacher asks the follow questions:

1. What are some obstacles on Mars?

2. How can your robots avoid the obstacles on Mars?

Introduce the purpose and rules of the final competition

The purpose of this competition is for the students to navigate and detect life on Mars simulation with their Lego robots.

Simulated Mars

Finding Water on Mars Competition Rules

  1. Three runs for each robot (starting point as marked)

  2. For each run, the robot will be placed in a specific location (marked in the photo above) with a specific heading/orientation. The water (green paper) will be placed in a known location, somewhere near the middle.

  3. The robot will need to make a sound (whatever each team wants) when the robot finds the “water”.

  4. The score for each run will be the amount of time it took to find the “water.” The times will be added together for the final score of each robot.

  5. The maximum time for each run three minutes. If the robot doesn’t cooperate, for whatever reason, the team can pick it up, move it back to the starting position, and try again. Repeat this until the three minutes are up. The time will keep running until the robot finds the water (don’t reset the timer when they pick up and restart the robot) and that will be their score for that run. If the robot fails to find the water in three minutes, the maximum time is recorded.

  6. The team with lowest time/score wins.

How can we modify our robots to detect water on Mars?

Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry (50 minutes)


  1. Students discuss what functions their robots need to have to detect water.

  2. Students need to think about how to program their robots with different motors and sensors. Also, consider where to place the sensors on the robot for the best results.

  3. As a team, students will come up with a sketch of the robot with the location of the various sensors noted.

  4. Students will modify their robot based on their sketch.

If time permits, students can start to think about and write down the strategy they will use to program.

End of Session Reflection and Debriefing

5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. Using the problem solving process diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

  • What did I learn today?

  • What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today?

  • How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?