Programming Your Parent

We had Take Your Child to Work day, and one of the activities I came up with was called "Programming Your Parent". It was based on Dr. Techniko's How to Train Your Robot and Andre Roberge's RUR-PLE.

The general idea is that you have a defective robot that can only move forward and turn left. You need the robot to maneuver around a shield and retrieve a sample (snack or super ball). I laid out the scenario using tape on the floor, marking the starting point, shield, and candy location. The carpet tiles made perfect reference points.

There were three levels to the the activity. A young child could verbally issue commands as their parent attempted to follow them. Older kids could plan out the steps on a worksheet and then have the parent follow them. More advanced kids could actually program the steps using the Python scripting language and see the results in RUR-PLE.

The first lesson to learn is that robots do exactly what they are told. The second lesson to learn is that new commands, such as "turn-right", can be constructed using three "turn-lefts". The last lesson is that kids will work hard to get a small reward. Hopefully they had fun telling their parents what to do, and maybe learned a bit about programming as well!

You can see (and use) my worksheet here:

RUR-PLE, which is a great tool for learning how to program, can be run online at or downloaded here:


  1. Reeborg, the robot in RUR-PLE, now lives on the web at

    1. What a great tool for learning programming (and having fun!). Thanks for making it available to everyone!

  2. I love hands-on activities that allow a lot of creativity and testing. I also like how you incorporated a variety of levels into the same assignment. I've noticed that kids will come to class with many different levels of programming ability. Check out my version of "Be the Robot" here: