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Grades 2-5
3, 4, 5

Photon Education

Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Photon Solves PEMDAS Problems

Duration time:
60 min.
Programming interface:
Photon DrawPhoton BlocksScratch 3.0
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Reference to the core curriculum

Common Core Math Standards: 
- CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.OA.A.1: Use parentheses, brackets, or braces in numerical expressions, and evaluate expressions with these symbols.

Class goal:

  • To solve expressions using order of operations.

Required items:

  • One Photon Robot and devices for programming per every two to three students.
  • Math expressions to be solved written on chart paper (each group will need a set).
  • Dry erase boards or pencil and paper to jot down any notes as they solve the expression.

Lesson scenario:

Programming Interface: Photon Draw, Photon Blocks or Scratch via the Photon EDU App or the Photon Magic Bridge.



  • The teacher will prepare the selected expressions on chart paper. (one per group)
  • The teacher will instruct the students about order of operations.
  • Break the students into groups of two to three students.
  • Explain that  they will use code to answer the Math problem.  The students will code Photon to drive to the correct part of the expression that should be solved first.  They will use the record function to record one member of the group saying the answer for that part of the expression.  Then, Photon will drive to the next part of the expression and they will record again.  They will do this until they record the final solution for the expression.  
    • For example, to solve:  3 + 7 x (6/3)  
      • Photon drives to the parentheses and the students record “two” as the answer for that section.  
      • Then Photon would drive to the multiplication sign, and they would record “fourteen” as the answer for that section.  
      • Finally, Photon would drive to the plus sign, and they would record “seventeen” as the final solution.

Lesson Sequence: 

  • Each group will be working together to solve the expression.  
  • Review how to code Photon to show their work. 
  • Have each group get a Photon and coding device and go to a space where their set of  expressions are on the floor and they can discuss their answer as they program Photon.
  • Direct each group to the first expression they should solve.
  • In their groups, students work to program Photon to solve the expression.  
  • After all the groups have coded their robot for the expression, the teacher can ask for the answer to the expression.
  • The teacher should have one group explain how they got their answer.
  • Repeat for each expression.


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