1, 2, 3, code ! - Cycle 2 activities - Lessons 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3. Introduction to Thymio in Cycle 2


Students are introduced to the Thymio robot and familiarize themselves with it. After exploring the various pre-programmed modes, they have Thymio run a maze. They gradually formulate a simple definition of what a robot is.

(Adaptation of the four first lessons of the "Robotics in Cycle 1" sequence)

Key ideas
 (see Conceptual scenario)


  • The machines all around us simply follow "orders" (instructions).


  • A robot is a machine that can interact with its surroundings.
  • A robot has sensors that let it perceive its surroundings.
  • A robot can perform actions: move, make a sound, produce light, etc.
  • A robot has a computer that decides which actions to take in which situations.
  • If you compare a robot to an animal, you can say that:
  1. Its sensors are like sensory organs
  2. Its motors are like muscles
  3. Its computer is like a brain
  4. The parts taken together are like a body


  • A test indicates which action to perform when a condition is met..

Inquiry-based methods

Experimentation, Observation, Discussion


For the teacher:

  • Handout 8 (documentary handout from Cycle 1)
  • A screwdriver
  • Drawing paper, black paint and a paint roller (4 cm)
  • A2 size poster or flip chart

For each group:

  • A Thymio robot
  • A track printed on A3 paper
  • Objects that can be easily moved around and used as obstacles for Thymio (cubes, books, etc.)

For each student:


Thymio, instruction, condition, test, robot, sensor, motor, program


2 to 3 one-hour lessons


As previously explained, this Cycle 2 robotics sequence covers the Cycle 1 introduction to Thymio sequence in two to three lessons with a few differences as described below, and then goes into greater detail with an initial approach to programming a Thymio robot using Aseba/VPL.


First lesson: Meeting Thymio

Then, as in Lesson 2.2, Cycle 1, the teacher gives Handout 23 to the students. Each group will study one of Thymio's colors (green, red, purple, yellow) and describe its behavior, then fill out Handout 23 by connecting the event/action pairs. The following vocabulary is introduced during the group discussion: a test is comprised of a condition ("IF green Thymio detects an object in front of it") and an instruction to do only if the condition is met ("THEN it moves forward").

Students from Nathalie Pasquet's class, Paris

Teaching notes:

  • Handout 23 is meant to be quite condensed. Accordingly, it does not include some of Thymio's behaviors, which can be explored and described orally with the class:
    • In "red" mode: Thymio behaves differently depending on whether an object is placed "behind it, to the right" or "behind it, to the left." It's up to you to figure out how!
    • In "purple" mode": the behavior of the arrows is not completely straightforward. In fact, moving is more complex than simply going forward, standing still, or going backward. Thymio has three speeds in each direction (forward or backward). Pressing one arrow increases ("forward" arrow) or decreases ("back" arrow) the speed, similar to the speeds on a motorcycle. For example, if Thymio is moving on speed 3 (the fastest), pressing on the "back" arrow does not make it move backward, but rather slows it down one speed. Thymio will then begin moving in speed 2. These speeds can be combined with the instructions "turn right" or "turn left" to make Thymio turn at different speeds.
    • In "yellow" mode, Thymio's behavior is less exaggerated than on the handout. When an obstacle is placed in front of it, Thymio tries to keep moving forward several times before deciding to go around the obstacle.
    • Using the Thymio robot can help deepen students' understanding of a nuance of language, which will recur often in the different lessons: what is the difference between "move" and "move around"? A mechanical arm screwed into the ground cannot move around the room, for example, but its joints allow it to move: it can pivot, bend, etc. Thymio, by moving (or turning) its wheels, can move around.


Second lesson: Get Thymio through a maze

Using Lesson 2.3, Cycle 1, the teacher has the students test out a Thymio mode that was not discussed in the previous lesson: the turquoise mode. The teacher hands out the printed tracks (All of the Scratch JuniorScratch and Thymio programming resources are available on the project website) so students can see what turquoise Thymio can do. The students will learn about his "investigator" or "tracker" mode.



Students from Nathalie Pasquet's class, Paris

Next, the teacher has students do an activity that will touch on all key ideas covered so far: getting Thymio through a maze built with objects such as cubes, books, etc. Each of Thymio's modes students have seen until now can be used for this activity: Green Thymio will follow a hand that guides it through the maze, turquoise Thymio will follow a black ribbon placed on the ground in the maze, etc.


Third lesson: Thymio is a robot

As explained in the review lesson “What is a robot?”, the teacher begins by taking Thymio apart to describe its components. Little by little, the students will understand that a robot is a machine that can interact with its environment using sensors, actuators, and a program.

Second grade and third grade class, Anne-Sophie Boullis, Saint-Georges d'Orques

Conclusion and lesson recap activity

Through these lessons, the class creates a group poster showing what they learned about Thymio. In particular, they will come to the following conclusions, which are to be written down in their science notebook:

  • Thymio turns on using the middle button.
  • Thymio can change color.
  • Thymio can make sounds.
  • Thymio can be in different modes, each indicated by a different color, which determine the robot's behavior.
  • A robot has a computer, sensors and actuators that are all interconnected.

Students from Nathalie Pasquet's class, Paris



  Sequence III Lesson 3.4 >>


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