Runaway_Rover_Educator_Guide – Piper



1 hr

Ages 8+

Robotics Expedition:  Runaway Rover is the 7th Mission within the Robotics Expedition. Piper Make Expeditions are groups of Piper Make Missions that may be found on Please note that the Walker Missions require the purchase of the Robotic Walker.  









Mission Objective

Learn about rotational servo motors to make a robot move and also learn about the concept of programming functions.

The Zomars are onto Piperbot and Pip after Walker’s stunning win in the Walker Race mission! Now we’ve got an angry mob of Zomars that we’ve got to escape from – thank goodness we’ve found the parts to build a vehicle to get away. Build and code your Runaway Rover and learn how to move and turn.

Mission Links

Mission Materials

Things you will need for the Runaway Rover Mission

Piper Make Starter Kit and Computer using a Chrome Browser

Piper Make Robotic Rover

Mission Resources

Learning Goals

1. Understand the structure of a blueprint and how to read one accurately to successfully build the desired object/robot/etc.

    • Soft Skills:
      • Understanding the flow of reading a blueprint and how it can differ from other sets of instructions that students may be used to.
      • Attention to detail and precision which is necessary for the robot to be built correctly the first time, i.e. putting specific parts before others, not overtightening, etc.
      • Allows students to work on fine motor skills in a natural setting with a satisfying conclusion.
    • Collaboration and Team Building:
      • Working in pairs, one student will inevitably take the lead while the other will follow the lead. This gives students exposure to these unique roles in an organic setting that feels natural.

2. Understand the role of each wiring component: Voltage (5V in this case), ground, job of resistor and what is the purpose of connecting wires to the 0 & 1 slot.

    • Soft Skills:
      • Allow students to continue working on fine motor skills by using hand tools and hardware they may not have exposure to at home or school
      • Learn how to use hand tools in a correct manner by learning that right tightens a screw/bolt and left loosens a screw/bolt and what it mean to turn something clockwise and counter clockwise.
    • 21st Century Skills
      • Learn about electronics, closing a circuit and how signals are emitted via electricity. Students will gain an understanding for calibrating a device or machine before extended use.
    • Soft Skills and 21st Century Skills:
      • Understand how the differnt legs of an LED carry different charges, which means accuracy and attention to detail is needed for success.

3. Connecting negative numbers to a number line and in real life situations

    • Students will gain a real world understanding and application about how negative numbers are used
    • Students will understand that a negative number moves the opposite direction of a positive number
    • Students will see a real world example of how using negative numbers are necessary to accomplish a task

4. Learn how time and speed are related

    • Students will gain a real world understanding how speed is related to time and distance
    • Students will begin to understand that speed running at 100% doesn't always mean completing the task the fastest way possible
    • Students will develop and understanding of how to balance speed vs power vs time, i.e. that going too fast can reduce accuracy and that there are situations where we are unable to move the fastest we possibly can
    • Students will naturally understand how long true time feels vs counting, i.e. they will need to program timed stops for the robot to move accurately. This will allow to see how long 1 second, 2 seconds, 5 seconds, etc. feels. This goes against students being used to counting down out loud

5. Understand the following vocabulary and how they are similar/contrast: function, logic, loops, variable.

ELA / Math / ELD Activities

The following sections will contain step by step instructions for ELA, ELD and Math extensions directly related to the Runway Rover Mission. Adjust the directions to fit your ELA, ELD and Math standards.

  • ELA Extension: How I Lost Control (reflection / narrative)
    • Have students work independently to write a one, three or five paragraph story about a time that they lost control. It could be when they were upset, were riding a bike too fast, running too fast or even moving too slow for a situation.  
      • Have students reflect back on a situation that they experienced directly or witnessed
      • What consequences happened becua they were too fast or too slow, etc?
      • Have them include how the speed affected their accuracy, timing, etc. that led to the consequences
      • Have them include what they would have done differently and the lesson or lessons they learned from that situation
      • Make sure students share their story with two other students for feedback and make the appropriate changes
      • Add a dash of art into this activity by giving the option to draw their robot during the dancing competition, winning, losing, etc.
  • ELD Extension: Lost Control Theater 
    • Create pairs or a group of 3 students up with varying EL levels in the group, i.e. one EO with 2 ELs, two EOs with one EL, please avoid having students at the same level working together.
      • Students will write a short script about a situation where someone loses control
      • The character can lose controls emotionally or physically, this is entirely up to the group
      • Make sure that students include how control is lost, tying it back to the speed, time, etc
      • Students will practice their play with other groups and then perform it in front of the class
      • Make sure students include lines in their native language, i.e. Spanish, German, etc. and have one of the members be the voice over to translate
      • A second option for these lines is to use butcher paper to create subtitles that a partner holds up as they speak, almost as if the students are watching it on TV
  • Math Extension: How Are Speed and Time Related? 
    • Pair students up or allow them to pick their partners
      • Partner A will be rotating, Partner B will be in charge of rotating Partner A. They will eventually switch roles
      • Connect back to the Runaway Rover activity and ask them to describe what the connection between speed and time is
      • Students will need plenty of space so working outside will be beneficial
      • Students will develop a slow walk speed, a regular walk speed and a fast walk speed
      • Partner A will go first and Partner B will measure how long each walks takes to get from a predetermined Point A and Point B
      • They will switch roles and collect the information
      • Students will work to figure out how many times faster each walk speed is versus each other
      • Create a small obstacle course of varying items that will require students to adapt using each of their walk speeds
      • Have students reflect and share why they used a specific walk speed versus the others

Hardware Diagram

Final Code

Tutorial Steps

Walker Blueprint

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Align the servos
  • TBD
  • When mounting the servos, make sure that each servo is positioned so that the motors are furthest apart (see image below)

Expedition Resources

Material Library


A servo, which is short for servomotor, is a special kind of motor that is used to control something by moving it. A simple motor moved by spinning continuously. A servo turns to a specific position and it uses gears to transform the high speed of the motor into more force so it can move things more easily.

The servo is connected using three wires: one for ground, one for power, and one for a signal that tells the servo motor what position to turn to. The Pico tells the servo what position to turn to by changing the width of the pulse that it is sending out. A pulse with a shorter "ON" time will turn to one side, and a pulse with a longer "ON" time will turn to the opposite side.

The motor inside of the servo turns very fast, but it is also weak - it cannot apply very much force. The gears inside the servo convert the motor's high speed and low force into a slower speed with more force.

Career Connections

Robotics Technician: Salary $60,570/yr

Automotive Engineer: Salary $95,300/yr

Civil Engineer: Salary $88,050/yr

Industrial Designer: Salary $75,910/yr

Standards Alignment

CSK12 Framework

  • CA 3-5.AP.17. Test and debug a program to ensure it accomplishes the intendedtask.
  • CA 3-5.CS.2. Demonstrate how computer hardware and software work together as a system to accomplish tasks.
  • CA 3-5.CS.3. Determine potential solutions to solve simple hardware and software problems using common troubleshooting strategies.



  • Grade 3: writing applications-2.1, 2.2;
  • Written and Oral English Language Conventions - 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.7, 1.8
  • Grade 4: writing strategies-1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.10, Writing applications - 2.1
  • Grade 5: Writing strategies-1.1, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6; writing applications - 2.1


  • Grade 3: ELD.PI.A.3.1, ELD.PI.A.3.2, ELD.PI.B.3.5, ELD.PI.B.3.6, ELD.PI.C.3.10, ELD.PII.C.3.6
  • Grade 4: ELD.PI.A.4.1, ELD.PI.A.4.2, ELD.PI.B.4.5, ELD.PI.B.4.6, ELD.PI.C.4.10,ELD.PII.C.4.6
  • Grade 5: ELD.PI.A.5.1, ELD.PI.A.5.2, ELD.PI.B.5.5, ELD.PI.B.5.6, ELD.PI.C.5.10, ELD.PII.C.5.6