Coding Dash to Bulldoze: Problem Solving Using Geometry and Measurement

posted Oct 3, 2018, 3:54 PM by Patrick Johnson
Today, students completed a STEAM task involving coding Dash the robot. The task was to code Dash to remove as many balls as possible from a hundred's mat. Dash could start anywhere on the perimeter of the mat (it was not allowed to start on a diagonal).

This activity linked to the curriculum and learning skills in many ways:
  • Students worked together to complete the task, often troubleshooting together when their code didn't work as expected (LS- Collaboration)
  • Programming movement on a grid (Geometry)
  • Right, acute and obtuse angles (Geometry)
  • Area-the number of squares that contained balls compared to those that were empty (Measurement)
  • Students were told that for every 20cm they programmed Dash to travel, it would move one square on the grid (Measurement)
  • Dash pushing the balls off the carpet (Science- Forces)
  • Friction-The carpet slowed the distance Dash travelled so in fact each square measured less than 20 cm(Science-Forces)
First we discussed what a force was (a push or pull) and went outside and identified forces around us (wind blowing trees, pushing a shopping cart, making a car move down the street, jumping and being pulled back to the ground). Then students were put into groups and decided what version of the task they wanted to try.

The layout of the balls on the mat:

Then students were given grid paper that showed the layout of the balls on the mat. They were told that if they programmed Dash to move 20cm, that was the equivalent of moving one square on the grid. Students planned a route for Dash on the grid paper before coding their route on the iPad app.

Finally, when students were satisfied with their code, they attempted the task. Students were allowed up to three attempts. This gave students the opportunity to analyze Dash's performance and make modifications to the code before the next attempt. It is interesting to note that almost every group was able to improve Dash's performance in subsequent attempts.

Afterwards, students reflected on their Learning Skill: