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Robotic Olympics

Create robotic athletes and celebrate diversity in an Olympic event!

Learning Objectives

  • How to collaborate and build on the ideas of others
  • Develop a setting and narrative around competing in a sport challenge
  • Think critically about helpful strategies and rules in designing a playable sport for robots
  • Identify problems, troubleshoot, and evaluate solutions based on data and feedback
  • Introduce fundamental concepts of physics such as balance, friction, gravity, and the center of mass


45 minutes before starting the lesson

  • Pick one sport to use as an example, such as racing around a track
  • Make sure all of the Quirkbots are fully charged
  • Preprogram the Quirkbots with the Factory Program, which you can upload at Strawbees CODE
  • Set up computer stations where students can program the robots and make changes to the code. Keep in mind: the intention is for students to practice rapid prototyping, not to stay at the computer!
  • Collect and prepare additional construction materials such as cardboard, paper, string, and more for building the sports areas


  • “Have you ever played a sport before? Which ones are you most interested in?”
  • “How can you describe a sport like __ [football, tennis, basketball] in a few sentences so another person who has never heard of that sport before can understand?”
  • “Can you list the different components of a sport?” Here are a few examples:
    • A set of rules for fair play
    • Positions of teammates on a field – Hockey, Football
    • A time limit is broken down by quarters – Basketball
    • Starting a game on equal terms with a score of 0
    • A limited number of steps to move by foot – Handball
  • “What do you know about the Olympics?”
  • “Do you like the Olympics? Why or why not?”
  • “Why do you think individuals from around the world want to participate?”
    • To take part for the love of the sport, not to win
    • Solidarity and alliance through friendly competition


Have your students think about how to design something for your class’ Robotic Olympics. An Olympic sport has many possible parts in creating the experience: the athletes, how the competition begins, an opening and closing ceremony, the judging table for revealing score, a timer, cheering audience, and many other additional roles. What are the most important parts they need to create to prototype their sport?

Students can:

  • Can create a robot athlete and tweak its performance to compete in a sport. When a robot athlete is competing, what do they want to achieve? Below is a list of examples of end-goals in sports: Getting the fastest time – 5000-meter run Scoring the most points – Basketball Grace and skill – Ice skating Least amount of swings and penalties – Golf Accuracy – Bow and arrow Longest distance covered – Long jump * Well-rounded performance in multiple, short sports – Pentathlon
  • Transform their favorite hobby into a sport such as a circle drawing competition or fishing for the most catches – they don’t need to be limited to what currently exists, they can invent something entirely new!
  • Create a designated area for their sport to take place. This could happen on the grass outside, or by taping boundary lines on the carpet or floor inside. Keep the amount of needed space in mind if multiple robots are competing in the same area at the same time. Here are examples of designated sports areas: A track for running races A pool with individual sections for swimmers A 7-meter strip for fencing A ski-jump ramp * An ice rink


Students can:

  • Modify the existing set of rules by testing different ways of measuring performance or success in the sport. For example, if students create a sport similar to football, they can modify the rules by asking – what if each team had to defend two different goals instead of just one? What if each team could only have 3 players? Encourage students to try different ideas!
  • Transform their robot athlete into a triathlete that can perform well in three different sports.
  • Have their robots compete in other students’ sports!
  • Build a way to keep score or a way to keep track of how long it takes their robot to complete races.
  • Test the impact of friction and gravity on sports by experimenting with different materials. For example, how do robot athletes perform in an “ice skating competition” when the ice is made of printer paper? …a slippery tabletop? …cardboard? …a tilted surface?
  • Create an area for multiple competitors at once. A team sport is a group of athletes collectively working toward a common goal. Even if one individual can score really well, it’s about teamwork. What is another example of what a team sport could measure?


You can have your students:

  • Test their ideas and get feedback from the class for improvement. For a new sport that was just invented, encourage students to document their rules so they can share their sport with others.
  • Put on an opening ceremony where everyone organizes their area first before starting. Before having each student release their robot athletes, have them share with everyone the rules to the sport. Those who are not competing in the games can turn their robots into a cheering audience. You can record and document the opening ceremony and/or sporting events through video or pictures, perhaps having a photo finish for some events.
  • Start a competition for sports with all robots at a starting point with student spectators and non-racing robots, like a flag twirler, for example, cheering on the side.


You can have your students:

  • Create a spot on a table to display everyone’s robots. Students can write down data about their robot’s performance, as well as any observations they made during the building phase. Ask the class: “Which of these robot athletes demonstrated: Grace Accuracy Speed Strength Endurance?”, “What was the hardest sport to compete in so far? Why?”, “If the robot athlete did not perform according to plan, for example, if it flipped over, why do you think it did that? What changes could be made to counteract this?”
  • “Which sports could these robot athletes perform well in vs. a human?”
  • “If you had another chance to do this, what would you do differently? Would you redesign your robot athlete’s construction? …the code?
  • Explore more ways to modify their robots, including changing the body or frame for the next race.
  • Explore more ways to modify the sports and/or the rules.

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