SPIKE™ Essential

Information Transfer

Maria, Leo, Daniel and Sofie use a special code to share ideas. Make your own code to communicate with your friends!

45-90 min.
Year 4-6


(NOTE: This lesson contains a Part A and a Part B. Both are important to access the full learning of the curriculum. If time is limited, review both parts to choose elements that meet your pupils’ needs.)

In this lesson, the key learning is about comparing multiple ways to send messages with patterns (codes). The model offers a fun, hands-on opportunity to test and compare the codes that pupils design. Encourage pupils to design and build their own codes and device for sending them. Reinforce that there is no single correct model.

  • Science Background - Information Transfer:
    • Familiarise yourself with the suggested coding options in Explore, in which pupils use the Light and/or Sound blocks to send messages using patterns in different ways.
    • Both provided methods are substitution codes where each letter becomes a number represented by one or more light flashes or sounds – A=1, B=2, etc.
    • Pupils will need criteria and constraints to make their testing useful, which can be established during Engage.
  • Build Prior Knowledge - Information Transfer: Using your core science materials, share information, images and definitions:
    • Codes are a series of patterns that use numbers, letters, sounds, lights and/or symbols to represent messages. For example, each letter is represented in Morse code by long or short flashes or beeps.
    • People in different times and places have used many pattern systems to send coded information.
    • Today, information is often transferred electronically from one source to another with binary code patterns using 1s and 0s to represent the text, sound and images. The numbers are decoded by electronic devices like cell phones into a form that we recognise.
    • Criteria means the requirements that must be met for a project to be successful, such as that it’s easy to use and safe.
      Constraints are limits on the project, like time or cost.
    • Key vocabulary: patterns, code, information transfer, criteria, constraints
  • Building and Programming Experience: Review the suggestions in the Unit Plan. For this lesson, you may also want to
    • Reinforce with the Light and Colour Sensor tutorials in the SPIKE App Start menu.
    • Try one or more of the other lessons in the Science unit to gain more building experience and be familiar with Word Blocks in the SPIKE App.
    • Use the Communicate with Light and Sound lesson to provide inspiration and building support.
  • Materials: Locate a printed or digital example of Morse code to share during Engage.

PART A (45 minutes)


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Introduce the story’s main character(s) and the first challenge: Maria, Leo, Daniel and Sofie use a special code to share ideas. Make your own code to communicate with your friends!

  • THINK – Facilitate a brief discussion about the lesson topic(s), using the story picture if you wish.

    • What are some ways that patterns are used to transfer information? (drum or sound patterns; Morse code, which uses a pattern of long and short signals; signal lights at an airport or from a ship. Consider sharing a sample of Morse code.)
    • What might be some criteria for designing a code? (a pattern is used to code the information, the message is accurately transmitted, the system is easy to use and fast)
    • What about constraints? (distance, materials, safety, i.e., avoiding too many pupils moving around at one time; a code that is too slow to send messages might delay urgent information)
    • Help pupils to define the criteria and constraints they will use: A single class set will make comparison easier across groups. A range of choices will encourage solution diversity.
  • Distribute a SPIKE Essential set and a device to each group.


(Small Groups, 25 minutes)

  • As pupils work, consider sharing the examples below as support for programming. Reinforce that there is no single correct model or program. Pupils may design and build any model and message codes they wish in this open-project lesson.

  • Have pupils:

    • Create and write down at least two different codes for sending words with the letters A–E (for example, A = wolf sound; B = bird sound; C = cat sound; and so on).
    • Begin to BUILD and PROGRAM a model to send coded messages using different systems. Show how it will help to communicate with friends.
    • Test their codes as partners or with other groups, using established criteria and constraints.
  • Facilitate brainstorming about ways to program the light matrix to create a pattern that transfers information. For example, pupils can use shared design criteria and constraints and then test the ideas below:

    • BED written in numbers of pixels on the light matrix, with code for all letters A–E.
    • BEAD written in animal sounds, with code for all letters A–E.
  • Halfway through work time, have pupils exchange ideas using a familiar classroom routine and then update their models with inspiration from sharing.

Example Ideas

SPIKE Essential Information Transfer - 01 - en-gb
SPIKE Essential Information Transfer - 01 - en-gb
SPIKE Essential Information Transfer - 02 - en-gb


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Gather pupils for sharing. 

  • Have each group use their model to demonstrate and explain:

    • How their testing code designs use different patterns to transfer information.
    • The criteria and constraints used for their design solutions.
    • A comparison of testing results for their two code designs.
    • If and how their codes made it easy to share information.
  • Elicit sharing and suggestions about parts of the model or programming where groups are struggling.

If you wish to continue to Part B – Explain, have pupils keep their models intact or allow time for rebuilding.

PART B (45 minutes)


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Repeat the steps from Part A – Explain to support additional sharing, brainstorming and inspiration for continued model programming.


(Whole Class, 30 minutes)

  • Organise a sharing method for pupils to see and evaluate each other’s designs, such as Jigsaw (groups separate and form new groups) or Inside-Outside Circle (two circles face each other to share and then rotate in opposite directions to repeat with a new partner). Collect or have pupils record comparison data for each model they view, including how its features compare to their own for the main criteria of speed, accuracy and ease of use. Encourage them to note any ideas they’d like to try and to consider which design best solves the problem of sending secret messages to friends.

  • Have pupils:

    • (15 min) Continue to BUILD and PROGRAM, incorporating inspiration from the sharing activity.
    • (10 min) Use their completed models to share design and testing with the class and together compare how well the different code designs meet the criteria of speed, accuracy and ease of use. Collect pupils votes for which code design best solves the problem of sending secret messages to friends.
  • (5 min) Invite pupils to share knowledge, ideas or skills that

    • Helped them complete the challenge.
    • They learned while designing and programming their models.
  • Have pupils clean up the sets and work areas.


(Whole Class, 5 minutes)

  • Ask guiding questions to elicit pupils’ thinking and their decisions while developing ideas, building and programming.

Observation Checklist

  • Review the learning objectives (Teacher Support box).
  • Use the checklist to observe pupils’ progress:
    • Design at least two different code designs for transferring information.
    • Identify criteria (e.g., message is accurately transmitted, pattern for encoding information is used, system is fast and easy to use) and constraints (e.g., distance, materials, safety) for testing and using the system.
    • Evaluate each code and design solution based on speed, accuracy and ease of use.


Have each pupil choose the brick that they feel best represents their performance。

  • Blue brick: I think I can follow instructions to create a program.
  • Yellow brick: I can follow instructions to create a program.
  • Green brick: I can follow instructions to create a program, and I can help a friend do it too.

Peer Feedback

In their small groups, have your pupils discuss their experiences working together.
Encourage them to use statements like these:

  • I liked it when you…
  • I’d like to hear more about how you…


Simplify this lesson by:

  • Limiting pupils to designing a code pattern for responding to simple questions with one flash for “no” and two flashes for “yes.” Then scaffold the comparison with yes/no questions or fewer criteria.

Increase the difficulty by:

  • Have pupils expand their design solutions to include additional letters of the alphabet to transmit information using other words. (Sample codes provided A–E words only.) Prepare them to discover possible problems in their system, as some codes will not scale.

Cross-curricular Learning

  • Provide learning materials about codes and patterns used to transfer information, including during important moments in history (e.g., Morse code; semaphore flag code; Babington Plot codes; World War II Enigma device; or search “best codes in history”). Have pupils explore one method and then present learning through a poster that explains and illustrates how it works.

If facilitated, this will extend beyond the 45-minute lesson.

Teacher Support

Pupils will:

  • Design at least two different methods for transferring information using patterns.
  • Identify criteria and constraints for testing the design solutions.
  • Evaluate each of their design solutions for speed, accuracy and ease of use.

(one for every two pupils)

  • LEGO® Education SPIKE Essential Set
  • Device with the LEGO Education SPIKE App installed
  • See Prepare - Materials

Key Stage 2 Design and Technology

Pupils should be taught to evaluate their ideas and products against their own design criteria and consider the views of others to improve their work.

English Cross-curricular Learning

  • Year 3,4,5 and 6 Reading (comprehension)
  • non-fiction

Pupil Material

Student Worksheet

Download, view or share as an online HTML page or a printable PDF.