Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Full STEAM Ahead: Dash's World Adventure with 5th Graders

Dash’s World Adventure
Lesson Plan for Grade 5
Prepared by Ms. Yandell


Dash criss-crosses the map in this fun lesson on geography, creative writing, and mathematics. Students will create or finish a creative story telling of Dot and Dash’s adventures in traveling the world. Students will measure distances and estimate angles in order to program the robots to move, flash, and make sounds to act out their story.


  • Identify the major physical components of the world (e.g. oceans, equator, continents, and hemispheres).
  • Find a specific location on a school or community map.
  • Identify and use key geographical features on maps (e.g. mountains, rivers, plains, valleys, and forests).
  • Use latitude and longitude to identify major North American cities on a map (e.g. Boston, Mexico City, Toronto, Charleston, Savannah, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Sante Fe, and Los Angeles).
  • RL.3.10, 4.10, 5.10: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the appropriate grade levels.
  • RI.3.3: Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
  • W.3.3, 4.3, 5.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
  • SL.3.4, 4.4, 5.4: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
  • 3.NBT.A.2: Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationships between addition and subtraction.
  • 4.NBT.B.4 Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.
  • 5.NBT.B.5 Fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.
  • 3.MD.B.4 Generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rulers marked with halves and fourths of an inch. Show the data by making a line plot, where the horizontal scale is marked off in appropriate units— whole numbers, halves, or quarters (in extension).
  • 4.NF.B.3.C Add and subtract mixed numbers with like denominators, e.g., by replacing each mixed number with an equivalent fraction, and/or by using properties of operations and the relationship between addition and subtraction (in extension).
  • 4.NF.B.4.C Solve word problems involving multiplication of a fraction by a whole number, e.g., by using visual fraction models and equations to represent the problem (in extension).


1. Create a short piece of creative writing
2. Take measurements of angles and distances between points on a map.
3. Identify major physical components of the world (i.e. oceans, continents, and equator), locating them on the map visually and using longitude and latitude.
4. Present a piece of writing to the class.
5. Learn how programming can be an avenue for creative expression.
6. Use a map key to find the real distances between points on a map.


  1. Dash
  2. Ipad
  3. Make wonder apps


Three part lesson..
Class 1: Issue a challenge to students: Write a story about Dash going on a world adventure. The story must include Dash or Dot travelling (or being on) each continent and crossing the equator.
  • Extension for grade 4 - 5: challenge students to reference longitude and latitude and geographical features (such as rivers, forests, and mountains) in their stories.
Write the prompt on the board and conduct a review of the geographical content.
  • Hang a copy of the world map on a wall or the whiteboard.
  • Have the world map labels cut out and folded inside a hat.
  • Have students come up and draw a label from the hat. They then read the label out loud and place the label at the location/geographical feature on the map.
  • Conduct a discussion with the class as labels are placed on the map:
    • What is a country they know in a placed continent?
    • What is special about the equator?
    • How do you find geographical features on a map?
  • Once all labels are placed, quickly review the positions of each of the continents, different lines of longitude and latitude, and how to identify geographical features on the map.
Review of the capabilities of Dash and Dot that they can use in their story. Below is a list of capabilities and some example Blockly code that can be used to demonstrate all of these

Class 2:
Students are challenged to write a program to act out their story.
Do a quick review of Blockly programming. Use the sample code above as a help, projecting it for students to see, if possible.
  • Start with the When block, explaining that it is used to trigger the start of the story. The example code gives two different types of start triggers (button, clapping).
  • Everything students want Dash to do is attached below the When block, in order. Dash will start at the top and read to the bottom, executing each instruction (and only those instructions).
  • Drive blocks control how Dash moves. Look blocks control where Dash looks. Light blocks control the color of each light. Sound blocks control the sounds Dash makes. Control blocks can cause Dash to wait for a set time or for some event to happen. They can also make Dash repeat an action on a loop, or have it react if something specific happens. Loops and if statements won’t be necessary for this activity so only “wait” Control blocks need to be shown.
Students will read their stories or the story prompt to extract Dash actions from the story. Students will fill these actions into the Dash Action Recording Table to help them lay out a plan for programming. This stage will require students to measure distances between points on the graph and estimate the angles Dash will need to turn.
  • Students may program as they fill out the table, to test their measurements and angle choices, sharing the robot between group members to do this.
Students will code the program from their story worksheet.
Math/Geography Extension: Challenge students to find the total distance that Dash will travel (in cm), and then use the map key to find the distance in kilometers (or miles, as appropriate) using multiplication.
  • For example, say the students have calculated that Dash moved 100 cm in his journey. If the map has a scale 1 cm = 400 mi, then Dash moves 100 cm400 mi/cm = 40,000 miles in its journey.
  • For an extra challenge, have students measure the exact distances between city markers on the map (to the ¼ in., instead of 10 cm chunks) and add them together by hand before using the map key to find the total distance. This will challenge students to add mixed numbers and multiply fractions by a whole number.
Class 3:
Students will present their stories as their robots act it out. Students could present to the entire class, or the class could be divided into two or three groups for presentations to save time.
Debrief with students by asking a series of discussion questions.

Discussion questions:

  1. What problems did you have getting Dash to follow your story? How did you solve them?
    • Problems could include not turning the right amount, or falling off the edge of the map. Measurement inaccuracy could cause problems, so it is good to have a classmate double-check.
  2. How did you measure the distances that Dash should move? Did other students in the class use different methods? Which method worked best?
    • Students could use a ruler to measure the total distance, and then figure out how many multiples of 10 cm that distance makes. Or they could use a string, piece of paper, or other object that is 10 cm long, and count how many copies of that object make up the distance. Point out that as long as the result works, there are no wrong methods, but some might take less time than others.
  3. How did you measure the angles that Dash should turn? Did other students in the class use different methods? Which method worked best?
    • Most students will use estimation to decide how much Dash turns. Older students should use a protractor.
(This lesson was adapted from makewonder.com by Terri Eichholz)
Creative Writing Story
Dash the Treasure Hunter Story Prompt
Dash, the world-renowned treasure hunter, is seeking the famous Shoe of Honesty, which has the power to make anyone who wears it tell the truth. While in North America, Dash gets a secret message. He only knows one person who can help him decode it: Dot the Decoder. Dot is currently in South America. Dash drives to South America to get Dot’s advice. When Dash sees Dot he gives her the secret turkey goat greeting.
Dot decodes the message and tells Dash that it is a phone number. He must now take a boat to Africa to find the Nile Crocodile, who is in Zimbabwe. The crocodile swallowed a phone, and its ringtone will reveal the location of the Shoe of Honesty on the map.
Dash finds the Exiled Crocodile in Zimbabwe, greets him with a proper crocodile hello, and then dials the phone number. Dash hears an elephant sound from the crocodile's stomach, and he realizes that this sound tells him that he must now visit the Elephant Whisperer who is currently taking a vacation in Antarctica.
Dash easily finds the Elephant Whisperer in Antarctica because he is the only man who answers when Dash yells out an elephant greeting. The Elephant Whisperer informs Dash that he must go to the Sydney Opera House in Australia, to see the greatest opera singer of all time.
Dash heads to Australia, but his plane crashes in the Indian Ocean. An emergency boat sounds the alarm and rescues Dash, taking him the rest of the way to Australia. He speaks to the great opera singer in goat language, so she knows that Dash can be trusted with the map.
Dash receives the map from the opera singer, and learns that he must now climb Mount Everest in Asia to find the key that is at the top of the mountain. Dash goes to Asia, and after being the first treasure hunter ever to climb Mount Everest in one day, he sighs with relief when he discovers the key right where he expected.
With the key is a set of coordinates. Using his smartphone, Dash realizes that the key is for a locker in the Underground in London, England. Dash goes straight to London. He opens the locker and says, “Ta Da” because he has finally found the Shoe of Honesty. But there is something wrong! Dash says, “Uh Oh!”
What did Dash find? Finish the story of Dash’s treasure hunt across the world.
Lesson adapted from Makewonder.com

Answer Key: 21 block total

Start, Forward 30cm, Say North America, Turn Left 90, Forward 20cm, Say South America, Turn Left 45, Forward 30, Say Africa, Turn Right 135, Forward 40, Say Antartica, Turn Left 120, Forward 40cm, Say Australia, Turn Left 90, Forward 30 cm, Say Asia ,Turn Left 30, Forward 20cm, Say Europe
Over the past two weeks, our CCS fifth grade students have been working on their geography PBL units.  They have been working on a lesson called Dash’s World Adventure, which is a three part project.  
The first part of the lesson, students were instructed to think creatively and write an ending to a short story about Dash going on a world adventure. The story must include Dash travelling (or being on) each continent and crossing the equators.

The second part of the lesson,  I had the opportunity to come into each of their geography classes and help students program their Dash robots to travel to each continent as it is sequenced in the short story.  For this activity, we used the Blockly app, and students worked in groups to measure distance in cm and degrees of angles to write their programs.  This activity took two 45 minute class periods to complete; the second class time was spent “debugging” and correcting any mistakes in their programs.  If there were groups that finished early, they were allowed to voice record the naming the continents, as well as add light pattern blocks into their programs
The final part of the lesson was spent with the students presenting their stories as their robots acted it out.  

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