My EV3 course

This page describes the robotics course that I first taught in 2013. I taught this course mainly to students aged 13-16. Interestingly, I found that when I tried to teach the course to students younger than this it was less successful because they were more likely to see the robot as just a toy and less likely to recognise that programming it can be a serious, useful and challenging exercise. The robotics syllabus below is intended to take 10 lessons of 45 minutes each (5 weeks of two classes per week, for example). If you are a teacher planning to follow this sequence then check out these tips. Note that the robotics work goes faster if students have already had an introduction to programming with the Scratch program. I strongly recommend that you teach your students programming with Scratch before you do the robotics course with them. One nice feature of Scratch is that it uses a relatively foolproof block assembly interface that is similar to the Lego EV3 software interface. Looking for a great Scratch course (about 8 periods)? Click HERE.

Lessons 1 & 2

The EV3 programming environment (education version) is introduced, including how to build a program by assembling and configuring programming blocks. Note that the home version (not the education version) is available for free download HERE meaning that students could conceivably develop programs at home and bring them to school for testing. As an example, we look at a lesson, 'Movement in a straight line', that can be found in the 'Robot Educator' section, 'Basics' Subsection. Note that the Robot Educator lessons are highly worthwhile and I recommend that students with access to the education version at home should work through these lessons in their own time. Students also learn how to download a program to the EV3 robot and how to run the program on the robot. The concept of flow-charting is briefly presented. RULE NUMBER ONE of EV3 robotics is presented: LOOK AFTER OUR ROBOTS! Keeping the robots in the 'robot playground' (a working area surrounded by barriers) helps protect the robots from damage.

Lessons 3-8

The following lessons are based on a theme of exploring a distant planet with our robot. The lessons are from Classroom Activities for the Busy Teacher: EV3 by Damien Kee. The book is available in paper and PDF formats from Damien's site and in paper format from The book is also available in French and Spanish in pdf format from The French translation should be of excellent quality... because it was done by me!!

All the lessons use the same model base, the 'RileyRover' (see photo), to which various sensors are attached when needed. Building instructions for the RileyRover are available free HERE and the student worksheets are available free HERE. The book presents a plan for a 50 hour course but in many contexts it will be necessary to teach just a selection of lessons from the book because 50 hours of class will not be possible. The programme below is thus a selection of lessons from the book. Note that the French version of the book proposes courses of 10, 20 and 50 hours. Using this book and these worksheets the classes are to a large extent self-paced, with students working in teams of up to four (one robot per team).

Lesson 3: RileyRover Basics (chapter 2)

Build a robot that is capable of driving around an obstacle course.

Lesson 4: How many sides? (chapter 9)

Attach a drawing device to your robot and plot out some geometric shapes.

Lesson 5: Help, I'm stuck (chapter 10)

Equip your robot with a sensor to help it detect obstacles.

Lesson 6: Let's go prospecting! (chapter 11)

Use the colour sensor to identify different coloured surfaces. We extend this lesson by looking for two rare minerals with different colours, so as to gain experience with the 'switch' programming block.

Lesson 7: Going Up and Going Down (chapter 14)

Use the Gyro Sensor to keep track of the steepness of the terrain.

Lesson 8: Prepare the Landing Zone (chapter 16)

Use the Gripper Attachment to move objects.

Lesson 9-10: Final Project (not in book)

Students conceive their own original challenge, not necessarily on the theme of planetary exploration) and try to make a corresponding program that they can test. The students' idea must be approved by the teacher. Alternatively, students who are unable to think up a suitable project of their own could, for reduced credit, attempt one or more of the projects in the book that they have not yet attempted, such as the three mentioned below.


The exercises below could be attempted the faster students who finish lessons 1-8 before their classmates. These extension exercises should be done in the order shown below. Alternatively, these students could simply start the final project before the other students.

Cargo Delivery (chapter 15)

Use the Cargo Delivery attachment to deliver an object to specific locations.

Meet your Adoring Public! (chapter 17)

After your glorious mission, your robot will want to meet with its fans and supporters.

Stay Away from the Edge (chapter 12)

Use the Colour Sensor to avoid falling off a plateau.

In addition to teaching the above course I often mention robotics in other ICT classes at all levels as we discuss the latest developments in robot technology (and other kinds of technology) and the impact these developments may have on our society. Frequent reference is made to the best robotics website I know of: