Lego Junkbot 2
Fantastic Mathematical Problem Solving if Done Right


Lego Junkbot is a fantastic free problem solving opportunity but you really need to instill into your students the nature of problem solving, challenge, 'guess and check' and notion of 'efficient solution' before attacking these problems.

I get the students to work in pairs on these solutions so their is a lot of discussion going on as well as a fair bit of mouse domination happening that the pair have to deal with. The nature of the problems presented are that you need to move the blocks around to allow the Junkbot to maneuver through various levels to pick up garbage. The trick is that you only have a certain number of moves to solve each level.

I find a demonstration is in order. I've tried just letting them loose but alas they cheat :) and a certain level of 'macho competitive bull***t' creeps in. You need pay careful attention to the section on the side of the screen that tells you how many guesses your are allowed to solve the problem.


I make it a rule if the go too far beyond the maximum then you are 'just stuffing around' and 'You have your hand on a mouse but your mind is not on solving the problem in a way that requires thinking skills.' (Harsh I know, but fair hehehe)

If you suspect the students are just jumping through the levels (I'm sure it is just a Generation Y thing) just make them go back a level and demonstrate to you how they solved the previous level in sufficient moves. This is usually enough to send a nice little ripple through the class that you are serious and that if you mentioned that you needed the problem solved in a certain amount of moves then it is to be solved in that amount of moves or less. Not 27 or even 46. I want hands on and minds on people!

This website is also a great opportunity to discuss the metacognition involved in thinking a problem through and the gratification associated with solving a problem.

Try setting this one for homework and then ask if any of your family got addicted to trying to figure out the levels. Interesting incites to be had their :)

Have fun!