Students Can Create Awesome Robots Using Incredibots 2D Physics Playground

Incredibots is a "physics playground" designed for creating two dimensional(2D) robots. This flash-based web app  allows you to create 2D robots, games (challenges), and play an expansive user-created library of bots. This year I began teaching a robot building unit in my technology classes using Incredibots 2. Students were hooked right from the start, because many of them already had a love for physics games. Not only was the unit super engaging, but also it covered several of the national technology standards NETS, with a strong focus on creativity and problem solving skills. This post is an outline of how I taught this unit, broken down for you in 4 nice 'n tidy steps.

1. Tutorials: Learning How to Use Incredibots
2. Writing Robot Plans
3. Creating Robots in Incredibots Sandbox Editor
4. Sharing Robots on Edmodo

1. Tutorials: Learning How to Use Incredibots
Incredibots includes 10 step-by-step tutorials designed to teach you how to use the main tools in the physics engine. The key to these tutorials is making sure students read the directions carefully. 

After completing all 10 tutorials, students should be able to have all the understanding they need to develop their own basic robots using in the sandbox mode.

Tutorial 10 was the most difficult for my students to complete, but is a necessary tutorial if you plan to have your students create challenges. 

2. Writing Robot Plans

The next step is writing robot plans. This gets students thinking about what tasks they hope their robot will accomplish and how they will build thier robot. I've found that writing a plan gives students a stronger sense of purpose once they begin experimenting with the physics sandbox.

3. Creating Robots in Incredibots Sandbox Editor

Once students have submitted their plans to me, they begin building their robots in the Incredibots sandbox editor. As they build they are partnered up to share ideas and solutions to the problems they encounter. Oftentimes I will feature or demo student robots to the class to discuss these in a whole group. 

Below are examples of a few of the robots created by my students.  

ATV Robot: (Download)
The ATV bot is able to lift objects and dump them into a cargo tank. It can also drive forward and reverse and control a cannon. Cannons and thrusters are extra features that are not included in the tutorials, but students' will quickly discover many uses for these if given a chance to experiment with them.

Multiplayer Boxing Robots: (Download)
Load this as a challenge. One of my more advanced students created this robot. After students had finished creating their robots, I asked them to create challenges. Challenges are basically robots with win/loss conditions. In this challenge the game ends when the first robot is knocked over.

There are also a ton more example robots that you can test out on the incredibots featured robots page.

4. Sharing the Robots on Edmodo

Creating 2D robots is one of the most engaging technology projects that I have ever taught. Things get really exciting when students  get the chance to test their classmates' robots. 

To do this, students post their robots on edmodo. This allows them to share their robot file that can be loaded in incredibots. After testing each robot, students are asked to give encouraging feedback and thoughtful suggestions to their peers.

I hope you enjoy teaching this unit as much as I did. Thank you Incredibots!

Standards: NETS: Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Communication and CollaborationCCSS.ELA.2 : Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

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