Mathematics and LEGO robotics at CIPCE

IMG_20140915_112415529The Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education (CIPCE) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has published a substantial collection of lessons and units aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards in Mathematics (CCLSM) that make use of the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 and NXT.

The modules (lessons and units) that form the collection have been designed and taught by accomplished teachers, mentored by CIPCE staff. They are primarily aimed at students in grades 3 to 8, but may be adapted to other grade levels.

The modules include objectives for student learning, including state standards, student assessment and learning activities. Many also incude EV3 coding, builds, student handouts, assessment rubrics and estimated time frames.

This collaboration was made possible by a U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) grant.

Three example modules are outlined below, and to view the full collection, visit:

4th grade Measurement & Data – Meter Measurement Module

20141217_141817Link: 4.1MD_Meter_Brown2014

Key terms: meter

Summary: Students will be able to visualize the distance of a meter. Students will see the LEGO robot travel one meter. Then, students will change the wheel size and predict the distance the robot will travel. Discussions will follow about the predicted distance, how the students arrived at their distance, and how the students described the predicted distance. For example, 1 and ½ meters, or 150 cm – or ¾ of a meter, or 75cm. Students will write statements about additional predictions and measurements. Module includes code. Time frame: 1 class

Standards: CCSSM: 4.1MD and has connections to 4th grade ELA standards for speaking and listening.


7th grade The Number System – Integers Module

IMG_20140915_101845028Link: 7NS_Integer_Add_Subtract_Matthews2014

Key terms: integers, addition, subtraction

Summary: Students will learn how to add and subtract integers using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robots and then extend their understanding to real-life applications. First, students will follow step-by-step instructions in a PowerPoint presentation to construct the robot. Then, students will use the robot to perform a number of operations by inputting the expression into the robot using touch sensors. Students will use the data of the robot’s motion to find patterns and make conjectures about addition and subtraction of integers. Students will generate the appropriate expression given particular robot movement. Students will make predictions about robot movement and the sum/difference given more complex problems. Finally, students will extend their understanding to solve real-life problems using addition and subtraction of integers. In addition to solving problems given to them, students will need to write a real-world story that includes a problem that they will solve by adding or subtracting integers. Module includes student packet, assessment rubrics, robot build, powerpoints and EV3 LME code. Time frame: one week

Standards: CCSSM: 7NS.1; 7NS; MP.1; MP.2; MP.4; MP.5; MP.6; MP.7.



8th grade Functions – Fixing the Finish Module

201493094859546_imageLink: 8F_Fixing_the_Finish_with_Functions_ Billington2014

Key terms: slope, rate, initial value, y-intercept, rate of change

Summary: Using Lego Robots in the classroom, students will explore functions. Students will be presented with a challenge that will allow them to define the starting points of each robot to allow for them to finish at approximately the same time if they are traveling at various speeds. Students will define, evaluate and compare functions as well as use those functions to model relationships between quantities to complete the challenge. Module includes student activity sheets, robot build, and EV3 LME code. Time frame: 3-4 (75 min) blocks

Standards: CCSSM 8.F.1; 8.F.4; 8.F.5.


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Rob Torok

I'm a teacher in Tasmania, Australia, and have been using LEGO MINDSTORMS with my students since 2001. I'm the editor in chief for LEGO Engineering (this site) as well as the content editor for LEGO Education Australia (

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