Silly Walks

This classic introductory robotics challenge requires little, if any, formal teaching. In addition to being a lot of fun, it provides a great way of assessing prior experience. At the very least, it allows you to check that everyone knows how to make their robot move.

The challenge

Make a robot that moves in the silliest way possible.

43 phenotypes

I often lead into this challenge by presenting the following video clip. Even though each model is built from the same, relatively small, set of building elements, notice how much variety there is in the different kinds of movement generated. And, of course, some are more successful at moving than others.

I would love to see an updated version of this video (i.e. EV3-based, hi-res, with a parts list and possibly some building instructions). A great student project, perhaps? Please contact us if you or one of your students is interested.

Teacher notes

If there’s time available, this can also be a great way to introduce the EV3 software in an exploratory way for first time users, e.g. “Here’s the software. Can you work out how to make a motor move?”

If time is short, or you don’t have access to the EV3 software (sometimes I’ve still been waiting for the software to be installed during the first week of the school year), then this could be framed as a building only challenge by downloading the following project onto all the EV3 bricks ahead of time.

Download: Silly walks.ev3 – This project contains four simple programs to run one or two motors, in either a forward or reverse direction.

Silly walks.ev3

Incidentally, I used to present this challenge as a “No Wheels” challenge, i.e make a robot that moves, without using wheels as wheels, but I’ve found that framing it in terms of moving in the silliest way possible promotes more creativity and experimentation. “Yes, you can use wheels, but it’s not very silly is it?”

For this years’ class I provided the full EV3 Core Set (45544) that we would be using through the course, but I’ve also found that it can work well to give the students a restricted set of parts. For example, in a workshop that focused on insect-inspired movement, I provided the following set of parts…

Insect movement workshop kit (only the non-electronic parts are shown)

Download: LEGO Insect Robots (PDF, 4MB) – This contains ideas for building a LEGO robot inspired by nature.

LEGO Insect Robots – Page 1

Useful links…

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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 (LEGOeducation.com.au).

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