Tetra X 2021 Project

Build an open robot kit for students with complex disabilities

Students with disabilities often depend on digital technology and adapted instruction to participate in class, communicate with family, and share with their friends. Our goal is to empower all learners to be creators of their digital worlds, to express themselves using code and art, and to apply these skills to other areas of learning and daily life. Not just learning to code, but coding to learn and create.

The Coding to Learn and Create project’s Inclusive Coding Environment is designed based on insights gleaned from a continuing series of co-design activities with learners with disabilities, their families, educators, and the inclusive design community at the IDRC. Our coding environment is built around a storytelling metaphor. Learners can create their own creative stories using code, or act out scenes and goals in someone else’s story. We’re building an environment that supports children with complex learning needs to express their imagination, stories, and experiences through code. A story includes the complete state of an on-screen world—all scenes, characters, and behaviors within it, as well as off-screen robots and other physical activities.

We’ve connected our coding environment to off the shelf robots that are currently used in schools such as Wonder Workshop’s Dash. We would like you to expand the robot options to include a do it yourself robot kit.


Project Plan 

The project plan should be created in the first week of the project and should include details on what the team intends to build, intermediate milestones and regular check in points where the team can give informal demos of their work and get feedback.


The team should decide on the specific features of the robot they are designing and what it will focus on. The current Inclusive Coding Environment can be programmed to move a character on the screen, draw, and make sounds. The robot could focus on one or all of these facets or could focus on something else that could be added to the coding environment.

The robots built as part of this project must be:

  • Connected to the Inclusive Coding Environment 
  • Reasonably affordable
  • Composed of easy to acquire parts
  • Robust and safe enough for students to play with
  • Easy to work with

Robot Building Guide

The guide will contain easy to follow instructions for how to build your own robot. It will be included in the Coding to Learn and Create Educator’s Toolkit which aims to provide teachers with a broad range of resources to support their students’ individual needs and preferences.


Individuals working on this project do not need to have all the required skills, however, the team should be composed so that all the required skills are covered.

Required skill sets

  • Experience programming microcontrollers, for example programming an Arduino using the Arduino IDE with C/C++
  • Electronic circuit design and prototyping
  • Experience with JavaScript programming
  • Physical prototyping experience

Nice to have skill sets

  • CAD software and 3d printing experience for possibly creating inexpensive robot parts
  • Experience working in open source environments
  • Experience programming with the React JavaScript library
  • Experience using the Git version control system
  • Experience using GitHub and its Pull Request based workflow
  • Experience working with Bluetooth or other communication technologies


The Inclusive Coding Environment is developed using open source techniques and has several communication channels including a mailing list and a Matrix room. Designers and developers will endeavor to answer any questions and provide direction and guidance to the project team through these channels. We will also coordinate with the project team to have regular check in meetings to see the progress of work and provide guidance and feedback.


The Coding to Learn and Create project uses "open-open" licensing models in which anyone can freely contribute, and which place few restrictions on modification, redistribution, or use in commercial or other open source projects.

The source code is distributed under the 3-Clause BSD licence.

Documentation, designs, and other non-code resources are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

Background Resources