Lesson Time:
45 to 60 minutes



Sensors connected to the Piper Computer Kit provide students with educational hands-on experience that integrates environmental sensory data with unparalleled coding and story adventures.

The Sensor Explorer projects and lessons feature three sensors that you wire up to the Piper Computer. Students will then be guided through character-driven story narratives while using game-like StoryMode to learn how decisions impact final outcomes within three unique StoryMode world puzzles and problems. Coupled with the game experience in StoryMode, students will have fun extending their coding skills using PiperCode while collecting real-world data using the 3 sensors.

This lesson will engage students' prior knowledge about connections between wavelength, frequency, and electromagnetic waves. They will form groups to explore the various types of waves and report findings related to frequency and wavelength of their waveform. Using a master drawing of the electromagnetic spectrum, students will explore how human eyes perceive color in the visible light spectrum and how our atmosphere affects waves.





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In this lesson, students will learn about how waves are part of the universe and build on the use of the color sensor by using PiperCode to decode hidden messages using RGB values learning in lesson 3.

Note: A color's RGB value indicates its red, green, and blue intensity. Each intensity value is on a scale of 0 to 255, or in hexadecimal from 00 to FF. RGB values are used in HTML, XHTML, CSS, and other web standards.





Deepen their understanding of RGB values in living and non-living systems.


Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.


Develop programs with sequences and simple loops, to express ideas or address a problem.


Complete PiperCode Color Coded to create programs that include sequences, events, loops, and conditionals.



Review lesson components for 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) and student grouping.

​Read the resources yourself, and make sure you understand the basics of reflection, absorption, wavelength, and RGB values.

​Review grade-level standards and performance expectations related to waveforms, reflection, absorption, or transmittance through different living and nonliving things.

Review PiperCode and loops, sequences, conditionals, and variables.

​Make sure Piper battery packs are charged before use.

​Review slide deck 3 and the graphic organizer.


Teacher-led Discussion (5 minutes)

Students will explore how light waves help us decode the mysteries of our universe.

Use slides 2-4 in the Lesson 4 slide deck to introduce the Doppler Effect and how it relates to redshift and blueshift.

​Have students read the following or explain this to students:

​“The light from most objects in the Universe is redshifted as seen from the Earth. Only a few objects, mainly local objects like planets and some nearby stars, are blueshifted. This is because our Universe is expanding. When an object moves away from us, the light is shifted to the red end of the spectrum, as its wavelengths get longer. If an object moves closer, the light moves to the blue end of the spectrum, as its wavelengths get shorter.”


Explore: PiperCode Project Color Coded (30-40 minutes)

Students will complete the PiperCode project: Color Coded to explore how to use RGB in coding.

Provide each group of students their kits, markers, and blank paper. Remind students of troubleshooting techniques, as well as best practices when dealing with electrical components. Slide 5 introduces the project and reminds students about RGB values.

There are discussion questions within the project tutorial. Have students discuss and record their responses on this graphic organizer.

PiperCode Discussion Questions for teacher reference:

Step 5: ADD AN RGB BLOCK - How do RGB values represent the color you are scanning?

Step 8: DUPLICATE THE CONDITION - What do these “if, return” functions do?

Step 10: ADD MORE LETTERS - What do you think you will do to display each letter?

Step 16: START DECODING - Describe the color and order you would need to scan with your color sensor in order to spell “PIPER”.


Explain (10-15 Minutes)

Students should share their responses to the discussion questions.

Use slides 6-19 to review student responses and debrief from the exploration.


The impact of color blindness (5-7 Minutes)

Students explore other ways of hiding messages and take a colorblindness test.

Slides 10-11 includes an image of note with a hidden message. The glasses in the image are the tool needed to decode the message. In the past, 3-D glasses were typically chosen to decode messages on the side of cereal boxes and in comic books. Ask students to consider how these techniques work.

Slide 12 includes a color blindness test. Have students guess the numbers hidden within the colored dots.

[Optional]: students can read this article on stereoscopy and write a reflection in their journals.


Closing/Reflection Activity (10-15 Minutes)

Have students respond to these writing prompts:

  1. How did working as a team make today easier?
  2. What obstacles did you have to overcome during today’s project?

Have students complete this assessment.