How Does the Move Steering work?

Please find a printable version of this page HERE.

Task Description

This is a great mathematical modeling task. Learning how to steer a robot promotes mathematical inquiry into number sense, spatial sense and logical thinking. 

This problem-solving task helps students understand how the <Move> programming block turns the robot. By modeling the robot’s turning, students gain contextualized and spatialized experiences with measurement, geometry, fractions, percentages, data collecting, data interpretation, and more.

<Move Steering> Block
(old version)

<Move> Block
(Scratch-based version)

We have implemented this task several times in Grades 4 – 6 classrooms and each time found students highly engaged and amazed.
There are three parts to this task, and each part delves into important mathematical concepts and takes about 45 minutes (total time: 2 hours and 15 minutes).
Your students will love the hard thinking this task evokes!

Mathematics Concepts

Students will mathematically model how the <Move> Programming Block on the Lego Mindstorms Education software turns the robot. In doing so, students engage with mathematical concepts of Grades 4-7 that include: Operations and algebraic thinking, fractions, measurement of data, geometry, as well as ratios and proportional relationships.
The task is also highly spatial and provides opportunities for developing spatial skills and spatial representations of the mathematical concepts mentioned above. For example, mathematical concepts are centered around the number line to help students understand number as measurement, and as position or motion along a path. These spatial conceptualizations of number are essential for understanding rational numbers and algebra.

Describing and modeling the robot’s turn


The Move Steering task also promotes student engagement, reasoning, collaboration, communication, use of appropriate tools, finding patterns and regularity, and persistence in problem solving.

Material Needed

  • EV3 robot built according to the instruction manual
  • For Part 2:
    • Rulers for measuring the radii
    • A vinyl printout of the steering mat, available HERE
    • Alternatively, prepare four concentric circles for each group with diameters 48 cm, 24 cm, 16 cm, and 12 cm (draw on the floor or poster board)
  • Recording Sheets, available for each part (see individual sites)

Student measuring radius on Steering Mat

Note for Teachers

For teaching this task, we identified some handy tips to keep in mind:

  • Terminology matters: We adopted the convention that the wheels rotate and the robot turns
  • Promoting collaboration: Pairs of students works best; or assign roles in larger groups of 3 to 4
  • Exemplary student roles (can be rotated): observer/feedback provider, recorder, programmer, and measurement taker

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© 2020 Dr. Krista Francis & Stefan Rothschuh