Introduction to Robotics in the Classroom

Target Audience
  • Students
Hosting Center(s)
  • Armstrong Flight Research Center
  • Langley Research Center
Subject Category
  • Physical Science
  • Math
Unit Correlation
  • Exploring NASA Missions
  • Exploring Engineering and Technology
  • Exploring Space
Grade Level
  • 05-08
Minimum Delivery Time
  • 030 min(s)
Maximum Connection Time
  • 060 min(s)

Event Focus

NASA is constantly looking to advance robotics and to increase the capabilities of robots to prepare for future exploration missions.  Discover how and why NASA uses robots? What skills do students need for career in robotics?




This module is appropriate for video conference AND web conference presentation (ConferenceMe Only)


Come see the future of robotics! Discover how NASA is using robots and what is in development for upcoming missions. Compare your vision of robotics with NASA's. You will learn communication skills for accurate programming. Learn what it takes to become a robotics engineer. For schools working with Lego Mindstorm robots, future challenges will also be discussed.




Instructional Objectives



Learners will share prior knowledge about robots, their use in popular culture (literature and movies) and how they are used in the real world on Earth and in space exploration. 


Learners will identify and discuss how robots work, define basic vocabulary of their movements and components and understand their role in space exploration.


Learners will investigate the various robots used by NASA in space exploration, and why robotic exploration is important to human space flight.


Learners will apply their knowledge of how robots are used in space exploration to broaden their understanding of the possibilities for new career opportunities and the education required in the field of robotics. 


Learners will demonstrate their understanding of robotics by completing a post-activity assessment and comparing their results from their pre-activity assessment.


Sequence of Events


Pre-Conference Activities


The Pre-Conference classroom activities are designed to provide specific lines of inquiry and to reveal students’ preconceptions about some of the concepts in the videoconference. Please have students also develop questions directly related to the focus questions.


Students should read "Let's Talk Robotics" and complete the Robotic Arm and End Effector activity. Students should focus on design challenges for both the robotic arm and object to be picked up, ie. how can the arm be modified for certain objects and what characteristics does the object to be picked up need to have. Students may also practice communication skills by having one partner close their eyes and by guided by the other partner as to how to pick the object up and place inside a cup. If craft sticks are cost prohibitive, posterboard cut in strips may also be used.


Videoconference Activities

  1. Introduction
  2. Discussion about the definition of Robotics
  3. How NASA uses robots
  4. Activity and discussion on how to give accurate directions.
  5. Components of a robot
  6. How robots are designed and tested.
  7. Questions and Answer session.

Post-Conference Activities


Students and Educators are encouraged to engage in lessons that build on knowledge gained in the videoconference. The Educator should nurture inquiry by challenging students to develop new questions and explore any misconceptions arising from the videoconference. Explicitly ask students to revisit their preconceptions and how they have changed. NASA Education has many different types of multimedia materials which could be used to extend this lesson: Educator Guides, Educational Wallsheets, Lithographs, Videos, Bookmarks, Web-based content, CD’s and even other Digital Learning Network Events. Educators can access the above mentioned materials at http://www.nasa.gov And click on for Educators.

Students should design an end effector to solve a particular task. Students should create a grapple like device as specified in the Humans and Robots Guide. Students may then challenge their classmates to adapt the grapple/ end effector to solve a task of their choosing.




ITEA Technology Standards:

Role of society in the development and use of technology

Students will explore the role of robotics and its place in society, how robotics has changed our current means of living.

NSTA Science Standards:

Science and Technology

Abilities of technological design

NCTM Mathematics Standards:

Specify locations and describe spatial relationships using coordinate geometry and other representational systems

Students will be challenged to give precise directions by describing a geometric figure to their partner. The figure will incorporate a variety of geometric forms and the great knowledge of geometry will increase the ability to give a quality description.

> Back To Top

Page Last Updated: November 5th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator