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Interactive Robot: Communication

Gain and demonstrate communication skills by creating and presenting an interactive robot.

In this exploration we’ll show how to scaffold situations for your students to develop and demonstrate communication skills presenting interactive robots made out of Strawbees!

Robotic crane with the micro:bitRobotic crane with the micro:bit
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Robotic crane with the micro:bit

Step 1: Problem presentation

The problem is to present an interactive robot with one of the Strawbees Robotic kits. An interactive robot doesn’t need to “look like a robot” but it has to have inputs and outputsaction and reaction. Robots can react directly or indirectly to their environment. For example reacting to touch or button press or reacting to sunlight and moisture.

Ask your students to work and present prototypes. Prototypes are experiments that you make to communicate an idea that is not yet fully developed. Learning how to read and interpret prototypes is as important as creating them. It’s recommended to give enough time so students can present at least one prototype before the final presentation.

For the final presentation, ask your students how would be the best way to explain to an audience how the interaction works but also how they explained to the robot how to interact.

Step 2: Expected learning outcomes

You should not only show but go through the expected learning outcomes with your students highlighting what are the skills you would like them to demonstrate proficiency at.

Collaborative Discussion

Whether with team members or with other groups, discussing ideas is an essential part of collaborating. During this process it is important to hear different perspectives and connect previous knowledge in ways that enrich and help guiding ideas towards its desired outcomes.

Emerging: Aware that collaborative discussion involves drawing connections between the ideas of others and posing clarifying questions.

Proficient: Participate and facilitate discussions that draw upon the knowledge, expertise, and unique perspectives of all participants encouraging growth in understanding and further inquiry.


A good communicator communicates with more than just a message. It’s important to pay attention to body language, and other non-verbal languages, adjusting it to the general intention and audience.

Emerging: Aware that making eye contact, and presenting without distracting mannerisms are important for presenting with poise.

Proficient: Modulates volume, pace, intonation, articulation, and physical gestures to provide a compelling presentation for a range of audiences.


Presenting something or the idea behind something is an essential skill of a good communicator. A good presentation engages the audience with interesting content, adequate format and pace.

Emerging: Uses different techniques to present ideas. Aware that evidence is required to support claims.

Proficient: Presents complex and original ideas in a way that has a clear purpose and engages the audience using supporting evidence, and alternative or opposing perspectives to illustrate patterns and make meaningful connections.

Interpersonal Communication

A good communicator is expected to adjust what and how to communicate according to the audience and respect the conventions required in different situations.

Emerging: Aware some modes of communication and conventions are appropriate for different purposes.

Proficient: Uses flexibly, a variety of modes of communication and maintains appropriate tone and conventions for each.

Step 3: Instructions and assessment

We provide full step by step instructions on how to build basic robots and a variety of coding cards for inspiration. We also have Activities that might provide other valuable insights on Strawbees building.

Additionally we recommend three additional resources to provide engagement for students with different interests and learning dynamics:

  • Coding Cards
  • Pair Programming
  • Translation Exercise

You can have the instructions available, give a lecture on how to build it, build together with the whole class or all the previous combined. Experiment with what type of instructions and assessment works the best with your group.

Coding Cards

Coding cards are small snippets of code that can be used to explore different concepts.

They are not meant to be used as they are but for you to tweak the numbers and combine the cards to get the expected result.

You can find the coding cards on the Learning Platform and CODE.

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Pair Programming

  1. One student sits on the computer
  2. Other student sits on the “driver wheel”
  3. The student on the computer does exactly what the driver says. The driver should only give instructions related with the user interface – Good: Move the forever block to the workspace. Set the repeat block to repeat 15 times. Wrap all the blocks on an “if” block. – Bad: Make it work. Make the LED blink. Make the motor move faster.
  4. Students switch places every 5 to 10 minutes

Translation Exercice

  1. Upload a random coding card to your robotics board and describe in plain english what you see happening.
  2. Find out how the blocks and numbers on the code alter the behaviour.
  3. Describe how else would you like it to behave. – Good: I would rather make it move faster/slower. I would rather it have a wider range of movement. I would rather make it blink on a different color. – Bad: I would rather have it better. I would rather have it flying.
  4. Find what words, blocks and numbers better describe what you want.

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