Lesson: What Is Bluetooth?

Contributed by: GK-12 Program, Computational Neurobiology Center, College of Engineering, University of Missouri

Three images: A man walks along a busy street with a device clipped around his ear. The Bluetooth logo, which looks like a white, pointy letter B with tail feathers, on a blue oval background. A photograph of a Bluetooth cell phone headset, a thumb-sized silver device with a hooked part that fits over a person's ear.
Students learn about electronic connections
Copyright © (left) Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation; (middle) 2011 Jnmasek, Wikimedia Commons; (right) 2004 Ed g2s, Wikimedia Commons http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/p2p/pmwkshop053013/shaw/shaw.htm http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bluetooth.svg http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bluetooth_headset.jpg


Students learn about electrical connections, how they work and their pervasiveness in our world. They consider the usefulness of wireless electrical connections for connecting electrical devices. Morse code is introduced as a communication method that takes advantage of on/off states to transmit messages by electrical bursts sent via wires, light or sound. They learn the Morse code rules and translate a few phrases into Morse code. Specifically, they learn about a wireless connection type known as Bluetooth that can be used to control LEGO robots remotely from Android devices, which leads into the associated activity.
This engineering curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Electrical connections permit devices to send and receive electrical signals. By interpreting these signals, it is possible for electrical devices to share information. Wireless connections in particular are useful because they permit mobile devices to connect remotely—without any wires. Many engineers work with electrical connections in order to set up networks of computers or to arrange for different parts of a system to communicate with each other.

Pre-Req Knowledge

An understanding of the basics about LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 software.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Explain what a wireless connection is.
  • Explain how a robot can use a Bluetooth connection to communicate with other devices.

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Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

  • Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (Grades 3 - 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • The design process is a purposeful method of planning practical solutions to problems. (Grades 3 - 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • The processing of information through the use of technology can be used to help humans make decisions and solve problems. (Grades 3 - 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • New products and systems can be developed to solve problems or to help do things that could not be done without the help of technology. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Describe how new technologies have helped scientists make better observations and measurements for investigations (e.g., telescopes, electronic balances, electronic microscopes, x-ray technology, computers, ultrasounds, computer probes such as thermometers) (Grade 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
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(Be ready to show students the 25-slide What Is Bluetooth? Presentation, a Microsoft® PowerPoint® file, to teach the lesson. In advance, make copies of the What Is Bluetooth? Pre/Post Quiz, provided as attachments and slides, and the What Is Bluetooth? Worksheet.)

In the age of the internet, electrical devices are everywhere and devices must be capable of continually sharing information. These ongoing communications are made possible by different types of electrical connections. As technology keeps advancing, it becomes more important for the citizens of the digital age—like you!—to have a basic understanding of how our devices can and do communicate with each other.

(Continue by showing the presentation and delivering the content in the Lesson Background section.)

Lesson Background and Concepts for Teachers

The fourth lesson in this unit provides an overview of electrical connections, wired and wireless communications and Bluetooth wireless electrical connections. Present the lesson using the content provided in the slide presentation, as described below.

What Are Electrical Connections / What Is Bluetooth? Presentation Outline (Slides 1-25)

  1. Administer the pre-quiz by handing out paper copies; the quiz is also on slide 2. The answers are provided for the teacher on slide 3 for discussion after students have completed the quiz.
  2. (slide 4) Introduce the context of this lesson—our wireless world—and the lesson objectives: To look at how a wireless connection type known as Bluetooth can be used to control a LEGO robot remotely from an Android device.
  3. Tell students: An electrical connection is the link that permits electricity to pass between two or more devices. The electricity that passes can be made to carry messages. The lesson focuses on wireless connections and specifically Bluetooth—a specific type of wireless connection utilized by the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robot.
  4. Explain what electrical devices are and give some examples (slide 5). Provide some detail about how electrical devices use electricity (slide 6). Then clearly define what we mean by an electrical connection and give some examples (slide 7).
  5. Introduce the distinction between wired and wireless connections (slide 8), including a brief history of wired connections.
  6. Hand out the worksheets and give students some time to answer the Part 1 questions in order to verify that they understand the concepts covered so far.
  7. Move on to the concept of coding messages. The idea for coding messages comes from using simple ON and OFF states of any device—electrical pulses, light, sound, etc.—as shown on slide 9. Samuel Morse and his associates first used electrical pulses to transmit messages over long distances through wires in the 1830s; we consider this to be the birth of wired electrical communications! A specific device used to turn a circuit on and off in order to send electrical bursts is shown on slide 10.
  8. (slide 10) The question that arises is: How to make sense of ON and OFF states? In other words, how do we code letters and numbers using these states? Morse came up with a way to do it using dots and dashes to represent the two different states: a dot represents ON and a dash represents OFF.
  9. (slide 11) Show students a chart of the International Morse Code for all the letters and numbers, along with the rules for the code and two examples. The rules: The length of a dot is one unit. A dash is three units. The space between parts of the same letter is one unit. The space between letters is three units. The space between words is seven units.
  10. Direct students to the worksheet Part 2 (also on slide 11). Give them some time to figure out and write down the codes for a few simple phrases. To help them out, show slide 12, which restates the rules and two examples. Answers are provided for the teacher on slide 13. Also provided is an internet site that translates any text and numbers into Morse code and plays the sounds of the Morse code message, which is fun to hear.
  11. (slide 14) Inform students that Morse code can be transmitted using light and sound, too. The main idea is to realize that messages sent over cables, whether telephone lines or TV/cable lines, etc., must have specific CODES. At the initiating end, the message (voice, picture, etc.) is converted into electrical pulses using the code, and at the receiving end the electrical pulses are re-converted back to the same message (voice, picture, etc.) using the same code.
  12. (slide 15) Return back to the topic of wireless connections. (slide 16). For a quick review, five different electrical connection examples are listed; have students indicate whether each is a wired or wireless connection. Answers are provided on slide 17.
  13. (slide 18) Introduce some examples of different types of wireless connections. We are concerned with a specific type of communication protocol called Bluetooth. Define Bluetooth and give some examples (slide 19). Emphasize the importance of wireless connections (slide 20).
  14. (slides 21-22) Introduce the reasons to take advantage of Bluetooth connections when programming LEGO robots, which prepares students for the associated activity.
  15. As a class, ask students to summarize all the reasons they can think of that are benefits of using wireless electrical connections. (Possible answers: No need for wires or cables makes messaging over long distances and rough terrain no problem. No wires to break or get disconnected. Can send/receive data and control other devices from remote locations. Can send/receive messages almost instantly.)
  16. Administer the post-quiz by handing out paper copies; the quiz is also on slide 23. The answers are provided on slide 24. This concludes the lesson. Slide 25 contains vocabulary terms and definitions, and answers. Next, conduct the associated activity.


Bluetooth: A type of wireless electrical connection used for communication between two devices. Bluetooth is a standard developed by electronics manufacturers that allows any sort of electronic equipment—from computers and cell phones to keyboards and headphones—to make their own connections, without wires, cables or any direct action from a user.) Bluetooth® is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG, Inc.

electrical connection: The link or bond that passes electricity between two or more things.

Associated Activities

  • Remote Control Using Bluetooth - Using Android phones, student pairs learn to use a Bluetooth wireless connection to remotely control and guide their LEGO robots through a maze.



Pre-Lesson Assessment

Pre-Quiz: Before starting the lesson, administer the two-question What Is Bluetooth? Pre/Post Quiz by handing out paper copies (also on slide 2). Have students answer as best as they can in order to assess their base knowledge about electrical connections and wireless electrical connections. Answers are provided on the What Is Bluetooth? Pre/Post Quiz Answer Key (and slide 3). Administer the same quiz at lesson end.

Post-Introduction Assessment

Worksheet: Have students complete the worksheets at two times during the presentation (noted in the Background section), once to verify that they understand the concepts covered about electrical connections, and once to translate some messages to Morse code. Review their answers to gauge their comprehension of the subject matter.

Lesson Summary Assessment

Post-Quiz: At lesson end, administer the What Is Bluetooth? Pre/Post Quiz again by handing out paper copies (also on slide 23). Expect students to be much more comfortable answering the questions on the post-quiz once the lesson is complete. Compare students' answers to their pre-quiz answers to assess their comprehension of the lesson content. Answers are provided on the What Is Bluetooth? Pre/Post Quiz Answer Key (and slide 24).

Additional Multimedia Support

Show students an interactive Morse Code Translator website that translates any message into Morse code and plays the sounds of the Morse code message: http://morsecode.scphillips.com/jtranslator.html


EV3 User's Guide. Accessed Jul 17, 2016 http://goo.gl/wuhSUA EV3 User's Guide. Accessed Jul 17, 2016. http://why.gr/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/EV3-User-Guide-EN.pdf Originating Technology/NASA Contribution. Office of the Chief Technologist, NASA Spinoff. Accessed February 14, 2014. (Bluetooth information) http://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2005/ch_9.html


Sachin Nair, Riaz Helfer, Pranit Samarth, Satish S. Nair


© 2014 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2013 Curators of the University of Missouri

Supporting Program

GK-12 Program, Computational Neurobiology Center, College of Engineering, University of Missouri


This curriculum was developed under National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. DGE 0440524. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: July 20, 2017