Activity 17: Robot Writer


  • Brainstorm and share creative solutions for manipulating the robot as a group
  • To create and “write” together using the robot
  • Give a presentation on what they have created
  • Discuss the experience and feelings

Character Focus



Time: 1 minute
1 Toobeez set
1 envelope
1 marker
1 large piece of paper
chart paper (optional)

  1. Place the Risk Taking Note into an envelope.
  2. Build a “robot writer” (refer to photo). You may need masking tape to secure the marker.
  3. Tape a piece of paper to the floor.

The Challenge

The group must use the “robot writer” to write a word on a piece of paper.

Safety Reminders!

Appropriate caution is important to conduct these activities in a safe manner. Be sure to review these reminders prior to beginning the activity, and if necessary, share reminders with the group during the activity.

  • Follow general safety procedures

Helpful hints

  • Use a bigger piece of paper than you see in the photos. Bigger paper helps prevent the group from writing on the floor
  • When working with a more sophisticated group, ask them to draw out the school logo. Provide them with all the colored markers they need. This logo becomes their “deliverable” and you become the customer. Provide them with a short time frame to accomplish everything. At the end of this time frame, they must deliver a presentation

Activity Instructions

  1. Circle up the group. Distribute or display the appropriate “Risk Taking Note” for the activity. Have one participant read it aloud twice. Provide a few moments for the participants to think about the message:
    “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”- Toni Morrison
  2. Share the following storyline with group.
    You are a team of skywriting pilots that must get your message seen so that your idea can become reality. You must figure this out together to show the world what you’ve got!
  3. Read aloud the following Activity Challenge Box to the group.
    Challenge: The group must use the “robot writer” to write a word on a piece of paper. Follow the guidelines below:
    • The robot must be held by the ball at the end of the tube
    • The robot writer may not be altered
    • If any guidelines are broken, the group must begin again
  4. Before the participants attempt an activity challenge, have the group work through the following six steps:
  5. Problem Solving Sequence:

    1. Circle up
    2. Know and understand the challenge and the guidelines
    3. Brainstorm
    4. Make a plan
    5. Do the plan
    6. Evaluate results and adjust as necessary
  6. Have the group create something with their Robot Writer: They can: A) write the word TEAM, B) draw a smiley face, C) draw a figure eight, or D) anything else!
  7. If participants get stuck, have the students circle up again. Here are some suggested questions to help guide the group back on track*:
    • What is working?
    • What ideas have you not tried yet that someone suggested?
  8. If your group is still struggling OR if you feel your group would benefit from an additional challenge, present a variation provided on the next page.
  9. After the activity, move to the debriefing questions for discussion.

Activity Variations

  1. Increasing the difficulty.
    To make this activity more challenging, create a robot writer with long arms (this will make the activity harder), do not allow verbal communication or require use of the non-dominant hand.
  2. Follow the maze.
    Create a maze on a piece of paper (like the kind in children’s books). Have the group make the robot writer marker follow the correct pathway through the maze.
  3. Make geometry.
    Draw different shapes as a team, such as triangles, squares, or a figure 8.
  4. The Leader.
    Everyone on the team closes their eyes except one. This person is allowed to keep their eyes open for one minute. At the end of one minute, they close their eyes and someone else on the team opens their eyes for one minute. Keep rotating. The person whose eyes are open directs the team.

Debriefing the Activity

Use these debriefing questions as a guide for your discussion. Select the questions you feel will best benefit your group. It is not mandatory to cover every question. If possible, record the group’s responses on flip chart paper so all comments are displayed. Make sure to let everyone share their ideas, and remind participants that everyone’s opinions and feelings are important!

Base questions for debriefing:

  • What did you just do together?
  • What did it feel like to move the marker together?
  • How did you feel while you did the activity?
  • What was one of the challenges of doing this activity?
  • What advice would you give to another group working on this activity?
  • What did the group have to do or believe to be successful?
  • How can you apply what you learned in this activity to your life and work?

If the group was unable to complete the task in the given time:

  • What did a fellow team member do that was really helpful?
  • Since you were not able to solve the problem, does it mean your group is a failure? (Push the group to respond with more than a “yes” or “no” and to instead point out and discuss what they learned.)
  • Why do you think it was so difficult to write together?

Additional questions: Choose which ones are the most appropriate:

  • What was one positive thing that happened during the challenge?
  • How do you work to keep improving your work with others?
  • Did you try different ideas? If so, why did you change your approach?

Close on a Positive Note

Sum up the different ideas and feelings that you heard expressed, and restate ideas and learning moments the participants shared. Then, read the Risk Taking Note out loud again, and ask people to discuss what they think this note means. Discuss what they thought it meant at the beginning and what they think it means now.

* (ˆ) Do not provide the participants with answers. Allow them to work together.