Maze Making for Math Measurements and Logic with Robots
News on May 12 2020
Logic, mazes…. and robots?
On a recent visit to the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City, I watched a group of students try to navigate a logic maze by Roger Abbott. The maze was designed in such a way that students were meant to follow along the path and reach the endpoint while making no left turns. The number of students I watched carefully navigating their way through the maze was astounding — 20 to 30 kids all trying and vying to get to that goal. While there were some students who “cheated” and made whatever turns necessary to reach the goal, there were even more students who would make the turns, realize they had made an accidental left turn out of habit, and then race back to the entrance to start again.
It got me thinking… Could this be used to teach mathematics when paired with robots? Sure, you could still teach measurements around the maze and logic while allowing students to move along the maze, but adding robots to the experience could mean exploring coding elements as well. You can use or design the maze to meet your own needs — do you want the students to only make left turns? Only right turns? Navigate around obstacles? The choice is yours.
Incorporating math standards
There are many math standards that could be incorporated into this maze activity, and you could choose to focus on a few things like:
You could even add an ELA component to the activity by having students list out the steps their robot took to reach the goal of the maze!
Three ways to bring logic mazes and robotics together
1. Coding with color codes and Ozobot
Draw out the maze template, and leave space for the Ozobot color codes to be placed in by students. Once the copies are made, have a lot of copies on hand for potential student mistakes! These mazes are not meant to be easy and students will likely have to try it out more than once.
The most interesting part having students navigate the maze with color codes will be to see how they do it. Some students may try to “cheat” and use a code they are not supposed to use. Some students may only choose to use one code: for example, if the no left turn maze is used, maybe the students will use all right turn codes (realizing that then the robot will only make right turns whenever it can and then will eventually reach the end goal).
2. Coding with block-based coding and Wonder Workshop’s Dash robot
Blow up the maze template to a size that can be displayed on the floor and laminate it. If you have the ability to make multiple copies so that groups of students can look at and work on different copies of the maze, do so. Give the students time to look at the maze and plan out their movements as well as the distance between different intersections in the maze on paper. Then give students the chance to code their distance and intersection turns in the Blockly app. Once they have finished the code, do test run with the Dash robot acting it out on top of the laminated maze. The student groups may find that they need to alter their code multiple times to get it to function in the way they planned, and that is okay. Let students test it out until they reach the goal!
3. Coding with drawing and written code with Sphero
First, blow up and laminate your maze. Make multiple copies if you can for student groups.
If you chose to have students draw out the code, have students open the Sphero EDU app and test out how fair the drawn lines go on the Sphero while it is on the maze. Then, once students are able to see how their drawn lines on the app scale to the robot’s movement on the maze, let students begin to draw their route while referring to the map. Let students test out their drawing route. There will be trial and error, of course.
If you chose to have students write with written code, the same basic tenants apply as above. Copy, blow up, and laminate the maze. Have students plan out their code and test it multiple times using the maze and the Sphero EDU app using the “written” tab when you start a new program. Truth be told, some students may get frustrated as they try to figure out the maze, but just be sure to be encouraging, speak to them from a growth mindset, and let the students have fun.
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