Why take the Right Direction Challenge?

Communication is vital in every aspect of our lives and we know that the key to great communication is being clear. For example, when we are following a recipe to make a cake, the instructions need to be clear and accurate. We call this type of instruction an algorithm.

In this challenge you and your family will use mathematics to create an accurate algorithm to get around.

Watch Brooke introduce the Right Direction Challenge.

Download transcript in {Word} or {PDF}

Connections to real life

From computer coders working together to design games to basketball players coordinating their plays, communication is critical in developing processes and procedures to manage a range of activities and tasks.

Algorithms are used all of the time by humans, but also by computers. Computer coding is essentially an algorithm that tells the computer how to act.

1. Setting the scene

In order to get around, many people use offline paper maps and online electronic maps. In both cases, using accurate measurement is incredibly important to make sure you end up in the right place.  If your map told you to ‘walk for a while, turn and then walk a bit more‘ who knows where you would end up. It is essential to give accurate, measured instructions like ‘go forward 10 metres, turn left 90 degrees, go forward 2 metres, turn right 45 degrees…’

Links to the curriculum

Measurement and Geometry, Levels 4-10

Being able to respond to instructions using different units of measurement is an important skill. Being able to communicate these instructions is equally important.

Clear some space and let’s go.

Maths words

adjacent – immediately next to.

algorithm – a step-by-step set of instructions to perform a particular task

Find more maths words in the Glossary.

2. The Challenge

1/ Use verbal instructions to move a teammate from one place to another.

2/ Gather your team. You will need at least two people to play.

3/ Decide who will be giving instructions and who will be following these instructions. The person following the instructions can choose to be blindfolded or just close their eyes.

4/ Decide on a start and finish point. Pick points about 10 metres apart and mark them. The points can be in different rooms. You might not want to tell the blindfolded person where the finish point is.

5/ Clear some space. Be extremely careful and make sure the path you are going to use is safe. 

6/ Give instructions to move your team from the start point to the finish point. You can only give two types of instructions, move forward (x) steps, and turn left/right or turn (x) degrees.

7/ Grab a camera to capture images or video of your instructions and how far your team travelled.

8/ Try to remember the instruction you received and walk backwards the same way you came. How close can you get to your starting point?

9/ Alternate between giving and receiving instructions after each game.

10/Do it again! Make a harder course and give instuctions using different units of measurement.

11/ Reflect: Which communication techniques/instructions were the most useful?

Here is a short set of sample instructions:

  • ‘walk forwards two steps’
  • ‘turn right 90 degrees’
  • ‘walk forwards eight steps’

Coach Chloe’s advice

coach-chloeHi, I’m Coach Chloe. If you are stuck, I have some questions and suggestions that might help.

Imagine that you are giving your instructions to a robot who can only move exactly as you tell them. Keep your instructions clear, use measurements and keep the instructions in order. You may want to note them down.

To add a little more challenge, try and move your team mates to the finish lines using the least number of instructions possible.

If you want to increase the difficulty of the Challenge you can give instructions using a different unit of measure e.g. ‘walk forward 2500mm’.

3. Keep going

Draw a scale floorplan of your own house and write an algorithm for a robotic vacuum cleaner to make sure that it travels to each room and vacuums around the edges. What is the most efficient way to do this?

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