SPIKE™ Essential

Trash Monster Machine

Help Sofie create a new way for her friends to throw out their trash.

30-45 min.
Grades 3-5


  • Review the Trash Monster Machine lesson in the LEGO® Education SPIKE App.
  • If necessary, pre-teach these related vocabulary words: modify, parameter, react, and tedious.
  • Consider the abilities and backgrounds of all your students. Differentiate the lesson to make it accessible to everyone. See the Differentiation section below for suggestions.
  • If time allows, plan and facilitate the language arts extension. See the Extension section below for more information.


(Whole Class, 5 Minutes)

  • Facilitate a quick discussion about using an automated solution to complete a tedious task.
    • Talk with your students about throwing out trash at home or at school.
    • Ask questions, like: How could you improve the trash can? What could you improve about how you throw out your trash?
  • Introduce your students to the story’s main characters and the first challenge: making the trash-eating monster react to the blue "trash."
  • Distribute a brick set and a device to each group.


(Small Groups, 30 Minutes)

  • Have your students use the LEGO® Education SPIKE App to guide them through their first challenge:
    • Create and test the program that makes the trash-eating monster react to the blue "trash."
  • Have your students iterate and test their models to complete the next two challenges in the app:
    • Upgrade the program to react to different-colored "trash."
    • Design your own improved trash-eating monster.
  • You can find coding and building support in the Tips section below.


(Whole Class, 5 Minutes)

  • Gather your students together to reflect on their completed challenges.
  • Ask questions, like: How did you program Sofie’s trash-eating monster to react to the different-colored "trash?" How did you upgrade Sofie’s trash-eating monster?


(Whole Class, 5 Minutes)

  • Prompt your students to discuss and reflect on the process of automating a prototype to complete a tedious task.
  • Ask questions, like: Why do you think it's beneficial to have a robot repeat a tedious task? What else could you automate to make it more interesting?
  • Have your students clean up their workstations.


(Ongoing Throughout the Lesson)

  • Ask guiding questions to encourage your students to “think aloud” and explain their thought processes and reasoning in the decisions they've made while building and programming.

Observation Checklist

  • Measure your students’ proficiency in creating and refining an automated solution.
  • Create a scale that matches your needs. For example:
    1. Needs additional support
    2. Can work independently
    3. Can teach others


  • Have each student choose the brick that they feel best represents their performance.
    • Yellow: I think I can create and refine an automated solution.
    • Blue: I can create and refine an automated solution.
    • Green: I can create and refine an automated solution, and I can help a friend do it too.


  • In their small groups, have your students 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…


Coding Tip

  • After your students complete their first challenge, they'll be provided with three Inspiration Coding Blocks to help them modify their programs.
  • The Inspiration Coding Blocks are intended to spark their imaginations as they experiment to find their own solutions.
Gecko U5L4_ICB_1 - en
Gecko U5L4_ICB_1 - en
Gecko U5L4_ICB_2 - en
Gecko U5L4_ICB_3 - en

Model Tip

  • After your students complete their second challenge, they’ll be provided with three Inspiration Images and an open-ended prompt for improving their models.
  • The Inspiration Images are to help spark their imaginations as they experiment and personalize their models.

There aren't any building instructions for this challenge.


Simplify this lesson by:

  • Selecting one Inspiration Image to help your students personalize their models
  • Experimenting with either the coding or the building

Increase the difficulty by:

  • Programming four unique reactions for four different colors of bricks
  • Exploring new and different coding blocks in the program


  • Have your students conduct a short research project comparing how two different countries sort and dispose of their trash.

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

Language Arts: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.9.B

Teacher Support

Students will:

  • Explore the benefits of automated solutions
  • Refine a prototype as part of a cyclical design process
  • Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions

(one for every two students)

  • LEGO® Education SPIKE Essential Set
  • Device with the LEGO® Education SPIKE App installed
  • CSTA 1B-AP-13
  • NGSS 3-5 ETS1-1
  • ISTE 1.5d

Language Arts Extension


Student Material

Student Worksheet

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