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Motion expedition

Mission 3 of 3

Motion Ball


1 hour

Ages 8+

Learn about 3D motion and its relation to an X, Y, and Z axis.

Piperbot and Pip have stumbled across a Mars Ball field, and Piperbot is currently learning about motion in the 3 dimensions. Discuss motion across the x, y, and z axes, and use the gyroscopic sensor in the ball you build to measure the changes in all three as you play a game of catch.

View student interface at



Computer with USB port and Chrome or Edge browser
Piper Make Base Station or Starter Kit
Piper Make Motion ball


Learning Goals

  1. Students will learn about roll, pitch, and yaw as they relate to the X, Y, and Z axis.  
  2. Students will understand how to measure roll, pitch, and yaw.  
  3. Students will learn how to plot data onto a graph using a sensor.  
  4. Students will learn about absolute values.  
  5. Students will gain an understanding of the word axis and the term plural axes. 

Learning Activities

The following sections will contain step by step instructions for ELA, ELD and Math extensions directly related to this mission. Adjust the directions to fit your ELA, ELD and Math standards.

ELA Extension: Sports Analysis

To start, ask your students: What is your favorite sport? If their sport includes a ball for gameplay, ask your students to draw how it looks. If the sport does not require a ball (swimming, running, etc.), have them draw a stick figure of how athletes move in the sport. 

  • Students will create a journal to track their ideas and reflect on this mission. Start with the following question:  
  • What do you think of when you hear the word energy? Have students write 1-2 sentences on what energy means to them. Many students think of how energetic they feel!  
  • Next, students will play the Energy Transfer Game and reflect on the prompts below with 3-4 sentences each. 
  • Energy Transfer Game: To illustrate that energy can be transferred, have everyone in the room act tired. Create an energy transfer where one “energetic” student taps another on the shoulder to transfer their energy. Like a game of telephone, have them pass the energy through to the end.  
  • After playing the Energy Transfer Game, ask students to answer the following questions:
    • How did the game help you understand energy?  
    • How can it be transferred?  
    • Can you think of anything else that can transfer energy?  
  • Potential vs. Kinetic: Explain that energy can be stored as potential energy or spent as kinetic energy.  
  • Have students list 2 examples of potential and kinetic energy and write one thing they still have questions about.  
  • Draw and explain an example of a situation where potential energy is waiting to transfer to become kinetic energy.  
  • Show your class the following examples and ask students which has more potential energy:
    • An object dropped from a little off the ground vs. one dropped from high off the ground.
      • Answer: High off the ground (more distance) 
    • A heavy object vs. a light object dropped from the same height.
      • Answer: Heavy object (more mass)  
  • Drop an example of each item and see which falls faster to demonstrate which has more kinetic energy (converted from potential).  
  • Kick a Ball: Have students crumple up a sheet of paper (or use a ball) and have a student come up and kick one. Just before kicking, tell them to freeze and look at where their foot is. Tell them that potential energy gets transferred from their foot to the ball’s kinetic energy.  
  • Have students reflect on the following three prompts:
    • State 2-3 things you learned. 
    • Tell me 1-2 questions you still have about the subject. 
    • Name 1-2 ideas about things you want to learn after this activity. 

Career Connections

Urban and Regional Planner: Salary $79,540/yr
Sports Official: Salary $36,010/yr
Physicist: Salary $142,850/yr
Avionics Technicians: Salary $75,450/yr

Hardware Diagram

Code Diagram

Tutorial Steps



Troubleshooting Tips

  • The colors of the wires on your 4-pin cable can vary, so it is important to match the pins on your sensor module to the correct connections on your breadboard. 
  • Remember, the DIGITAL VIEW is a handy way to see the GPIO pin locations. For this circuit, you will connect:
    • GND to G (ground) 
    • SDA to GP20 
    • SCL to GP21 
    • VCC to 3V 
  • In Step 2, when creating the variable for the Z-rotation, the logic block absolute is in the drop-down menu that says square root. 

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Material Library

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Standards Alignment

Individual Standards
  • CA 3-PS2.A Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion. (1.ESS1.A; 4.PS4.A; MS.PS2.A; MS.ESS1.B)
  • CA 4-PS3.B Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide. (K.PS2.B; 3.PS2.A; MS.PS2.A; MS.PS3.A; MS.PS3.B; MS.PS3.C)