Mini Programming Challenge Ideas???

Hi everyone,
I’m a new PLTW teacher about to start a unit on robotics. Students will first be learning some basic ROBOTC (wait, if-else, and/or, until, while…). After that, I’d like to give them a variety of challenges they can choose from as their first project (starting fairly small). The curriculum already has several examples (such as building an elevator to go between three floors and automatically return to the ground floor, and building a winch that winds up a specified length of string but also has a kill switch, etc.).
I’m looking for some more ideas on what students could build and program in about a week. So far the projects I’ve found on the forum or other websites all look like they would take several weeks to complete.

Any ideas you have would be great! Maybe you have a bigger project in mind, but could simplify it and make the build/programming more manageable for students new to ROBOTC.


Line following can be simple if you have square bots already made and have three line sensors.

As a Student, I think that projects based around an end goal benefit me the most. This can be used by having simple, 1 or 2 week projects, such as how to program a robot to drive through a maze, follow a line, manipulate an item autonomously, and lift said item. A project schedule like this should lead to a final project that combines the knowledge from each of these projects, such as (for the examples above) having a robot travel a maze, then reach a point where it must follow a line away from the maze to obtain an item and return to the maze where the robot will continue to lift the item to an elevated area as the end goal. I remember that the year before I took my school’s robotics class the teacher had developed something similar to this.

Hope this helps.

Here’s what the Downingtown teacher did in his PLTW class at Downingtown West. It took a few weeks but each group made some food preparation automation set of robots that worked together.

The waffle maker worked best, but there were also hoagie makers that would take a roll down an assembly line cart robot, stop to add meat, add cheese, and onions at different stations.

You could do Foster’s previous idea for a cat toy using robots - laser pointer, pole/string toy, or shooter. Sadly his cat passed away a few months ago from waiting for someone to fulfill this challenge.

Thanks for the ideas. We will be making some type of car (maybe the square bot) later in the semester, and will definitely test out the line followers. I think we might start with having students try to build and program a robot to lift and move objects first, then go into the cars with a series of mazes/challenges.
The waffle maker looks really cool, but something like that will have to wait a month or two. :slight_smile:
If you have any more ideas, please let me know.


We did a line following challenge last spring as part of our educational classes we run post-season to give people the skills for the next game. Hitting a ball was a penalty of a few points. You got points for each section you made through the course.

I had only one 7th grade team make it through the maze 100%. Most others got to the blue tiles and had trouble with the T where you needed to turn while the white line kept going.

The black tape was necessary because white tape on the red or blue tiles does not show up real well to the line follower.

Vexmen spring line following course

Were the programs they constructed built so that they could deal with any of the situations on that field, or to complete just that specific course? Either way that is impressive for 7th graders. It looks like it is a really fun challenge!