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Robotics expedition

Mission 5 of 8

Walker Dance


1 hour

Ages 8+

Learn about wait times in code and how they affect the movement of a robot.

Next up for Walker, it’s time to dance! In this mission, code a recurring loop to make Walker dance back and forth to the beat of your favorite song.

View student interface at



Adult Zomar

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


Learning Goals

  1. Students will reinforce their understanding of a function in programming and how one is used to move a robot.  
  2. Students will reinforce their understanding of wait times in programming and how they are used to determine how a robot moves.  
  3. Students will reinforce their understanding of angles and how they are used to affect a robot’s movement. 
  4. Students will understand how changing an angle affects the trajectory of an object.  

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: Human Robot

Pair students up so that one English Learner (EL) works with one other student who is a non-EL or a higher-level EL.

  • One student will be the robot, and the other will be the programmer during each round. The programmer will need to create detailed instructions for the robot, but the catch is it must be in the language they are not proficient in.
  • Demonstrate by being very explicit in following their exact instructions, i.e., if they say to raise your arm to pick up a mug, raise it over your head. Students will then realize it should be more detailed in that you should raise your arm 45 degrees, 1 inch, etc.
  • Once students have written their instructions, have them test out the code and instruct the “robots” to make notes of words or phrases they are unsure of. The programmer will then update their “firmware” with the knowledge of the missing language.
  • Repeat the activity with roles reversed and follow the same instructions.
  • At the end, have students write a one paragraph reflection on all or one of the following prompts: What did you find the most difficult? What would you change if you did this activity again? What did you enjoy the most from this activity? Have them explain why on each one.

Math Extension: Beats per Minute In Step 4 of Walker Dance, Pip introduces the song by the Bee Gees called “Stayin’ Alive,” which has a tempo of 103 beats per minute.

  • Discuss with students that songs have different tempos, and tempos are measured in beats per minute (or BPM). BPM indicates the number of beats that occur during one minute of the tune. For instance, a tempo of 60 BPM would mean a beat sounds exactly once per second. Here is a video to show students how BPM works: BPM explained in less than a minute! What would you like us to explain in our upcoming videos?
  • Play the Bee Gee’s song “Stayin’ Alive.” Have the students go back into the programming of their Robotic Walker and change their wait times to match the beats per minute of the song. Bee Gees - Stayin’ Alive (Official Music Video)
  • Have the students discuss how their wait times would need to be changed if the song is half the speed (BPM) of the song Stayin’ Alive.
  • Now, select and play a slower song that is 50 BPM, or use the example linked here. Play “Open Arms” by Journey for students: Journey - Open Arms (Official Audio)
  • Students should now go back to their Robotic Walker programming and adjust their wait times so that the Robotic Walker dances to the tempo of this new song.
  • With students, discuss how their wait times changed when changing from a 103 BPM song to a 50 BPM song. What is the correlation, and how would they write that in a formula? Show a formula example and break it down. 

Career Connections

Robotics Engineer: Salary $104,600/yr
Automotive Engineer: Salary $95,300/yr
Civil Engineer: Salary $88,050/yr
Electro-Mechanical and Mechtronics Technicians : Salary $60,570/yr

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Material Library

A servo, which is short for servomotor, is a special kind of motor that is used to control something by moving it. A simple motor moved by spinning continuously. A servo turns to a specific position and it uses gears to transform the high speed of the motor into more force so it can move things more easily.

The servo is connected using three wires: one for ground, one for power, and one for a signal that tells the servo motor what position to turn to. The Pico tells the servo what position to turn to by changing the width of the pulse that it is sending out. A pulse with a shorter "ON" time will turn to one side, and a pulse with a longer "ON" time will turn to the opposite side.

The motor inside of the servo turns very fast, but it is also weak - it cannot apply very much force. The gears inside the servo convert the motor's high speed and low force into a slower speed with more force.

Standards Alignment