RBZ Kiel “With Robotics on mission to Mars”

The teaching module was conducted in the framework of a project week at business highschool RBZ Wirtschaft Kiel, with students from the study line ´business informatics´, grade 11. 

18 young people (5 females, 13 males) were enrolled fulltime during 5 days from 22nd – 26th Jan. 2024, 30 hours in total. Lecturers: Patrick Wenzel, Informatics; Merianne Alkio, Physics

The module corresponds with the teaching module “AR-Illustrated Posters: Renewable Energies”, but it has its own focus and own learning products.

Teaching design

The module related to learning objectives within the subjects informatics and physics.  The students should become able to a) construct and program a robot according to predefined tasks, b) add sensors for colour recognition, as well as c) outline criteria for artificial intelligence and assess digital processes on AI. 

Learning products

– A team-produced Mars-rover (Lego) and a sorting machine (Lego)
– Explaining videos, incl. interface for accessing the videos via a tablet 
– Team presentation of virtual and augmented reality

Content, activities

The students were introduced to professional video recording by a teacher from the Photo and Media School.

The students built a Mars rover (Lego) and equipped it with sensors. The task of this rover was to collect “rocks” on a simulated Martian surface and automatically transport them to a sorting machine (Lego). The sorting machine, also equipped with sensors, was tasked with sorting the collected “rocks”. The students programmed their rovers and sorting machines themselves.

Pedagogical methods

The students worked in varying and differently sized groups during different phases of the module; this strengthened their social skills and teamwork.

The module included the students´ co-design by promoting them to design and construct the sorting machine on their own and without instructions. In addition, they could freely choose technology for creating the videos.  

Evaluations were undertaken jointly with feedback in plenum and from the work groups, while the teachers provided feedback to the students individually to the groups. An online survey delivered additional insight in the students´ learning processes.  

The teachers could conclude that the students had improved their technical understanding and English skills. Additionally, the students had acquired important competencies in critical thinking, teamwork, and presentation techniques. The creative and hands-on approach to robotics and sensors had played a beneficial role for the learning processes. 

All students have reached the learning objectives and shown a high degree of motivation. The teachers could observe the students working in a kind of ´flow´ characterized by total absorption in the task at hand.

Durch die kreative und praxisnahe Herangehensweise an das Thema Robotik, Sensorik und KI haben die Schüler:innen ihr technisches Verständnis und ihre Englischkenntnisse verbessert und wichtige Kompetenzen im Bereich des kritischen Denkens, der Teamarbeit und der Präsentation erworben.

“Building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and supporting innovation.”

The students were able to relate their work to UN Sustainability Goal #9:  “We have built a sorting machine and implemented a procedure that can be used for waste separation and reuse.”  And: “We reused unused parts and gave them a new life.”

Digital production

As technologies, LEGO was chosen to build the rovers and the sorting machines, and LEGO Mindstorms EV3 was used as programming software. Working with the system is intuitive. The students learn to build robots according to ready-made instructions as well as to design and creatively implement new robot solutions themselves. Even students who have never programmed before can easily learn to program with Mindstorm.
The students chose various video software, and MS PowerPoint was applied for the presentations. 

As the main methods for the digital production, the students worked teacher-supported with own research for design, construction, and programming of the robots. At the same time, the teaching design allowed an experimental approach, both regarding the robots and the video production.  

The students´ retrospective reflections were included in their presentations of the results, undertaken in an innovative format: The students had elaborated short films documenting their “learning journey” in English. English was chosen to  be able to communicate across borders with the Danish collaborating business high school Svendborg. 

The films not only provided insight into the development process and technical data, but also into the students’ reflections about the nature and capabilities of AI.  

(Extract from a student´s learning video coming up)

Digital literacy

Complex scientific and ethic topics, relevant to the society, were treated during the teaching module and explored practically in interaction with the technologies.  

The students trained their computational thinking via logical and analytical considerations and planning, via mastery of loops, conditions, variables, debugging, and sequential execution. Furthermore, this approach was prompted via drafting and constructing the rovers. 

The class was devided into thematic groups, each of them working with specific tasks, relevant for the joint final goal. Their roles and allocated tasks seemed clear for the students, and as such, this indicated their understanding of working in communities of practice. During the project, the students took on different roles within their teams, organized their work both within and between teams independently, and thereby learned managing a project through practical experience.

The students engaged with the question of whether the functionality of machines should be understood as artificial intelligence (AI) or as automation. This question led to intense discussions and research about the concept of AI, its characteristics, and how it differs from simple automated technology. 

The students learned that automation involves performing predefined tasks without human intervention, while AI describes systems that are capable of learning from experience, adapting, and making complex decisions.


The module offered the opportunity to practicially explore programming and robotics as some of the influential technologies in the future. This prepaired the students for their career learning, and several students mentioned “engineer”, “informatics”, respectively the “work with radioactive materials” as fields for their future careers. This approach can possibly be further developed, such as through company visits or presentations of actual career pathways. 

The reflections about automation and AI have contributed to the students´ understanding of AI and its development on a global level. The students themselves emphasized the technologies applied in the module as “future-oriented” and “with a great potential”. Some of the students dived into planet-related questions, such whether “a permanent colony on Mars could ensure a continued consume and production on Earth […]”

During this module, the collaboration with Danish students was initiated. 4 RBZ students were chosen to participate. For their increased cross-national insight, these students pointed at: 

Spezifisch dänische Herangehensweisen an die Nutzung von Technologien, z.B. Sicherheit, Prioritäten, Verbreitung, etc.