Coding with the Touch Buttons on the 123 Robot

The 123 Robot can be coded using the touch buttons on the top of the robot. This article will walk you through using the touch to code method including:


Waking the 123 Robot

Turn on the 123 Robot by pushing the wheels along a surface to “wake” the 123 Robot. The indicator light will begin pulsing, and you will hear the startup sound to indicate the 123 Robot is turned on and ready for coding.


The Touch Buttons on the 123 Robot

Once the 123 Robot is “awake,” you can begin to code a project using the touch buttons on the top of the 123 Robot. Each button press is a command that will cause the 123 Robot to execute that behavior.

The buttons correspond to commands as follows:

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Press the Move button to drive the 123 Robot forward 1 robot length, or “step.” The indicator light will glow teal, and you will hear a click sound when this button is pressed.

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Press the Right button to turn the 123 Robot in place 90 degrees to the right. The indicator light will glow pink, and you will hear a click sound when this button is pressed.

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Press the Sound button to make the 123 Robot play a honk sound. The indicator light will glow orange, and you will hear a click sound when this button is pressed.

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Press the Left button to turn the 123 Robot in place 90 degrees to the left. The indicator light will glow blue, and you will hear a click sound when this button is pressed.

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Press the Start button to start your project, and make the 123 Robot execute the behaviors you have coded, in the order in which you pressed the touch buttons. The indicator light will glow yellow, and you will hear a click sound when the button is pressed.


Building a Project using Touch buttons

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When you begin a touch to code project, the indicator light will pulse green to show that a project is being created. Press the buttons in the order in which you’d like the 123 Robot to carry out the project.


Starting A Project

The 123 Robot will play a start sound when a project begins. When the 123 Robot has completed the project, you will hear a completion sound. View the animation below to see a project that moves the 123 Robot forward 1 “step.”

Note: The Start button will continue to pulse green while the 123 Robot is on, and contains a project.


Adding to Your Project

To add onto a project that you have begun, press additional buttons. The 123 Robot will continue to build a project until you erase it, or turn the 123 Robot off. This means that you can touch to code, test your project, and add to it, in small increments. You cannot change button presses within a project once they are coded, however. To change your project, you must shake the 123 Robot to erase the project and begin again.


Using the 123 Robot on the 123 Field

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One Square = 1 Robot Length

The 123 Field contains a series of squares. Each square on the Field is one robot length, which corresponds to 1 “step” of the 123 Robot’s drive movements. Pressing the Move button, will make the 123 Robot drive forward 1 step, or one square on the 123 Tile, as shown in the image below.

Lining up the arrows and notches

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To ensure that the 123 Robot travels in a straight line, line up the white arrow at the front of the 123 Robot with the notch on the tile when placing the 123 Robot on the tile to start a project.


Turning off the 123 Robot

To turn off the 123 Robot, press and hold the ‘Start’ button for 3 seconds. The indicator light will first show yellow, and you will hear a click sound. Then, the indicator light will turn off, and you will hear the turning off sound.

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The 123 Robot will also turn off when it is plugged in to charge, or if 123 Robot is inactive for approximately 5 minutes. When this happens, you will hear the turning off sound. To turn the 123 Robot back on, push to wake it again. You can set the length of the inactivity time out in the VEX Classroom App.


Teaching Sequencing with the 123 Robot

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One of the foundational skills that students practice every time they create a project is sequencing. A sequence is the specific order in which behaviors are performed. In order for a robot to complete the desired action, the behaviors must be carried out in the correct sequence. Take the act of driving in a square. It sounds simple, but involves a series of eight different movements, alternating between driving and turning.

As adults, we would likely write down that list of steps in words. However, to a pre-literate student, or one just learning to read, that act can be a daunting task. The buttons on the 123 Robot remove that barrier however, and enable students to begin to associate behaviors with symbols. They can use arrows or gestures to explain their sequence, then press the buttons that match those arrows. This prepares students to be able to think sequentially, and symbolically, when planning their code. This symbolic representation is at the foundation of programming languages - which are essentially, a set of rules in which symbols represent actions. Gaining comfort and confidence with sequencing from an early age will not only prepare students for future coding challenges, but also many other areas of curriculum where sequence plays a role, from math to literacy to social studies.