ReadyAI – Middle School

Lesson 5: Moving and Manipulation

Essential Question

Why does AI need to be able to manipulate objects?

Summary of Lesson

Applying the principles of navigation, students will learn to navigate their AI units to objects and then manipulate the objects. Students will also be introduced to the limitations of AI manipulation not only with their own units but also in the world.



Can students …

  • identify what Cozmo can and cannot manipulate?
  • program Cozmo to manipulate his cubes?
  • create uses for the AI manipulation in a variety of fields?


Students will be able to

  • list what their AI unit can do with objects it can manipulate.
  • describe what their AI unit can and cannot manipulate and why.
  • develop a brainstorming web of applications for AI and their project, either individually or in groups.

Tools and Materials

Connecting to Prior Knowledge

How does Cozmo navigate?

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Teaching Guide

Ice Breakers (5 minutes)

Teacher plays a game of Simon Says using objects students have in and around their desk, such as pencils, pens, notebooks, paper, and so forth.

Simon Says, however, should involve manipulation of items. For instance,

“Simon says …

  • pinch the pencil between two fingers,
  • flip the sheet of paper,”
  • “move to the …,”
  • stack the books,” etc.

The emphasis of the icebreaker is on the need for students to recognize how important manipulation is to completing diverse tasks.

Teacher resources:

Check for understanding:

What does it mean to “manipulate”?


How are AI units different in their ability to manipulate versus robot?

Teacher Presentation (15 minutes)

Pick up cube manually versus programming

Teacher introduces abilities AI unit has in terms of manipulation using one to three of the following videos:

Teacher asks, “Are these AI units? How do you know?” (See Teacher Resource 5.1 for commentary on each video.)

Teacher then adds, “What do you see the units manipulating? What challenges do these two videos highlight?”

After eliciting responses, teacher asks the class, “What can Cozmo?”

  • The only real answer is his cube. However, teacher may add that Cozmo can also move to the blocks, flip them, stack them, as well as tap them in competition with the user.

Teacher then adds, let’s manually control Cozmo and see whether manipulating is easy or difficult.

  • Using Teaching Resource 5.2 and PowerPoint 5, the teacher may walk through setting up how to manually operate Cozmo’s navigation.
  • Teacher directs students to try to manually pick up cubes.

Teacher then demonstrates how to program Cozmo to pick up cubes.

  • Teacher elicits an appreciation for programming simplicity, highlighting AI versus non-AI robotics.

Teacher then says, “Let’s watch a video that highlights all that Cozmo can do. Think about what you can do with Cozmo if you begin to think of the blocks as representing other things that Cozmo could manipulate.”

Teacher resources:

See Teacher Resource 5.1 for commentary on each video and what areas of AI the video demonstrates.

Teacher Resource 5.2 demonstrates how to manually operate Cozmo and how to program Cozmo to pick up a cube. (ideally, it should also talk about other functions of cube manipulation if available)

Check for understanding:

What can Cozmo manipulate?


Can you make Cozmo manipulate objects?

Guided Practice (10 minutes)

Teacher distributes AI-IN-A-BOX™ . Using role sheet from previous class session, students set up the AI-IN-A-BOX™ .

Teacher circulates as students also begin to program Cozmo to move to and manipulate his cube. Students practice programming Calypso.

  • Teacher may encourage students who work faster to manipulate the charger
  • Advanced students may begin to create more complex scripts, such as stacking blocks, knocking down a stack, and so forth.

Teacher should also ask some of the following questions (Students may respond orally or use Handout 5.1),

  • “What can Cozmo manipulate?”
  • “What can Cozmo not manipulate?”
  • “What can you do with the cubes?”
  • “Since Cozmo has these limitations, what can you do with him?”
    • Key answer to the last question: Imagine cubes represent other items, such as how the class did in Lesson 4 with a cube representing fire.

Students can be asked to pack up AI-IN-A-BOX™  at the end of the guided practice.

Teacher resources:

Check for understanding:

What are Cozmo’s current limitations?


What applications can you think of for object manipulation?

Student Production (15 minutes)

Unplugged Activity

Given that Cozmo and most AI units now have clear limitations, they have to be created for specific purposes. Teacher prompts students to isolate potential applications of AI in a number domains (the number of domains should reflect the number of groups in the class)

  • Public Safety
  • Healthcare
  • Engineering
  • Art and music
  • Education
  • Building Construction and Maintenance
  • Recycling, and so forth.

Teacher should post large paper on the board in different areas of the room. Each group will begin at one of the domains. Teacher will provide 2-3 minutes for each group to create as many ideas as they can.

Teacher may want to model with a fictitious example such as with Cozmo, such as “Fireman Cozmo” from Lesson 4 under “Public Safety.”

After 2-3 minutes, the teacher rings a bell, clapping, or other stimuli. Students move to next domain and continue where students left off. Students may make more specific applications from previous groups or add their own ideas.

Carousel should continue until each group has shared ideas within that domain.

If Time Permits
Teacher may ask each group to return to the domain it originated and summarize the ideas on that chart.

Alternate Activity
If classroom size restricts such movement, students may pass a paper from group to group instead of the group itself moving from paper to paper.

Teacher resources:

Check for understanding:

What are some useful applications of AI in {teacher names some domains}?


Your task at the end of this series of lessons will be to create a model use for AI.

Closure (5 minutes)

Teacher will ask students to identify areas they thought were most applicable. Teacher then states that Lessons 6-8 will be largely dedicated to students developing those ideas.

Students assist in putting away their group’s AI-IN-A-BOX™  if they are still out.

Check for understanding:

Have students share domains where they think AI will be most beneficial.