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Cardboard Common Core Robots

I'm thrilled to share a recent STEAM project that my students completed in ELA class....that's right, ELA class!!  We built cardboard robots using Hummingbird Circuits and then we used Scratch coding to program the movements of the robots.  WOW!

It all started with a Graphic Novel:

I had ALWAYS wanted to use a Graphic Novel for instruction, and upon perusing this engaging, high interest story, I knew it was the perfect springboard for our project.  Like every good novel study, we  want to explore the features of the novel in advance of reading.  Being a fan of technology, I thought Merge Cube would be a great way to introduce the elements embedded within a Graphic Novel such as:  gutter, panel, inferring, speech/thought bubbles, etc.  So I decided that Merge Cube would be a GREAT way to do that.

Merge Cube Overlay

Using the Merge Cube on page 21 of the book, students view an augmented reality overlay to learn the features of a graphic novel.

Here's the link to this interactive augmented reality overlay:


Our next focus was to evaluate the term "anthropomorphism".  My goal was for students to understand this term.  We spent time studying the term and brainstormed HOW we could demonstrate this in our robots.

The Hummingbird

The Hummingbird (by Birdbrain Technologies) is an Arduino driven circuitboard designed to work with LED lights, servos, motors and other sensors.  It's super user friendly and easy to set up.  Student's insert the wires into the circuit board and hot glue the servos, sensors or motors onto their cardboard creations.  It was so easy that my kids were up and running AND independent within a 1-40 minute session!!

Our Robots
We had an amazing explosion in creativity with this project. We worked for two weeks cutting, painting, assembling, coding and testing our creations. Students created anthropomorphic robots and articulated HOW the robots demonstrated anthropomorphism!  They coded their robot's movements in Scratch, added lights, uploaded and recorded sounds and took pride in their creations. Student's then presented their creations and stated claims about the anthropomorphic characteristics and then used evidence from their creations to support their claims.

Undoubtedly, student's enjoyed the project and we will do it again, but the important thing is they LEARNED!   We integrated STEAM into our ELA class and used our argumentative writing skills to support our claims regarding our anthropomorphic creations...creations that students took pride in making and sharing!