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Rethinking Legos: Robotics Space Challenge


  • Project TitleRethinking Legos: Robotics Space Challenge
  • MA Curriculum Frameworks- MA Science Technology and Engineering
    - MA English Language Arts and Literacy

    - In addition to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, this project/activity also meets the following ISTE standards:
    1 – Creativity and Innovation
    o apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, and processes
    o create original works as a means of personal or group expression
    2 – Communication and Collaboration
    o Interact, collaborate and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media
    o Communicate ideas and information effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats
    o Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems
    3 – Research and Information Fluency
    o plan strategies to guide inquiry
    o locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
    o Process data and report results
    4 - Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
    o Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project
    o Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions
    5 – Digital Citizenship
    o Exhibit a positive attitude towards using technology that supports collaboration, learning and productivity
    o Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
  • School ContactGary Reese, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum
    781-937-8233, extension 11201
  • School / DistrictWoburn Public Schools
  • Brief Description At the middle school level, students in the eighth grade will learn how to design and build robots using Legos. “Lego robotics is a body of teaching and learning practice based on Lego Robotics kits, popular sets of materials that enable individuals without formal training in engineering and computer programming to design, build, and program small-scale robots.” (Gura, 2011) Students participating in this course will learn how to work collaboratively, problem-solve, think creatively, and utilize a multi-disciplinary approach to learning. Students will work with a partner using the Lego Mindstorms materials and curriculum. The students will learn about Robotics design, as well as computer programming in order to make their robots move.

  • PartnersWicked Cool for Kids
    Lego Education
  • Communicating About Our ProjectA website is being set up to communicate about the grant and the activities leading up to and including implementation. In addition, students participating in the development of the curriculum and test-driving‘ the curriculum will create brochures, flyers, newsletters, etc to communicate the progress on the curriculum development and implementation.
  • Photo and Caption 1The Lego kits have arrived - training for the kits will happen next week with our partner, Wicked Cool for Kids
  •  /project496_4924/2015-04-23 08.45.48.jpg
  • Photo and Caption 2Our planning session with Wicked Cool for Kids in April. Our partner was helping with the curriculum development and with the planning for the first training session.
  •  /project496_4924/2015-04-22 13.05.32.jpg/project496_4924/2015-04-22 13.05.27.jpg

Key Questions

  • Key QuestionsHow is creativity and innovation used in engineering design?
    How do teams work collaboratively to solve problems?
    What impact do robots have on everyday life?
  • Connections: How or why was this topic identified? Why is it meaningful?This is a meaningful topic because it gives students an opportunity to explore, in a collaborative environment, elements of technology and engineering. It provides a context for understanding and appreciating different careers in the field of engineering and changes the landscape of what students picture when they think of an engineer. It also provides a pathway for students to consider future coursework in engineering and design at the high school level with the combat robotics course.
  • Background Research: What resources were used to find background information for this project?Gura (2011). Getting Started with LEGO Robotics.
    DEPCO, LLC (2013). Combat Gears Educational System.
  • Outcomes: What was the outcome? How was it shared or applied in the community?There are a variety of outcomes anticipated through this project, which include outcomes from the design phase and outcomes from the implementation phase.

    * Increased opportunities for students to participate in hands-on technology/engineering coursework

    * Increase in the number of students pursuing STEAM careers
    * Increase in the number of students passing the Science MCAS (Grade 8) and Technology/Engineering MCAS (High School)
  • Family: Any opportunities to involve parent/guardians and other family members in this project?Parents/guardians have an opportunity to participate in these efforts by volunteering in the classrooms to act as a facilitator for student learning. Parents will be informed of these opportunities through the use of a dedicated website for the grant project.

Units / Activities

  • Building with LEGO Week OneThe students will learn the basics of designing robots and creating programs on the computer to make the robot perform various functions.

    Students will work with the Mindstorms kits. During this session, the teacher will assign students into small working groups (groups of 3 students) and introduce the various components of the Mindstorms kit. Students will learn how to build a robot and make their robots move using sound sensors, light sensors and touch sensors. The goals for this week (2-3 sessions) are for students to:
    * identify what makes a robot a robot
    * identify the major systems that make up of their robot
    * build a complete robot
    * become comfortable with utilizing the software and creating programs to get their robot to move
    * use proper terminology
    The students during this week will follow structured directions from the computer software to complete the activities.

    At the last session of the week, students will be asked to design their own robot model that will react to sound, touch and light. They will design their robots in their Robotics journal and will share their drawings with another group before building their robot.
    MATERIALS/RESOURCES: LEGO Mindstorms Kit Laptop/Desktop computers (with EV3 Software installed) Possible challenges this week may include: * getting their robots to move point to point accurately. Students will need to be encouraged to use mathematical skills (ie. degrees, calculating distance based on wheel rotation, etc). Encourage students to discuss outcomes with their groups and to use their Robotics journal to take notes about trials and errors in order to produce a positive outcome. * Learning to make mistakes - teachers need to allow students the opportunity to try different programs and allow the students to explore alternatives for success. This may be difficult both for the students and teachers, as educators often react too soon when students struggle. Providing assistance too soon may stifle student creativity and innovation.
  • Working with Light Sensors in more detail Week TwoDuring week one, students learned how to use the light sensors. This week, they will expand on this knowledge. Instead of using light sensors using programs that sensed light based on timing within program, students will use feedback from the sensors to create programs.

    The objectives for this week include for the student to:
    * describe what a sensor is
    * describe a conditional statement
    * describe how modifiers are used with the light sensors.
    * read the feedback from the view screen on their robot.
    * use conditional statements to control robot behavior.
    * calculate a threshold.

    The lessons this week will include a variety of challenges:
    Wait for Dark - the students will attach a light sensor to their robot and test the ‘Wait for Light‘ program. Students will then write a program that will make their robot stop when it sees a black line.
    Line Tracking Training Task - the students will build the line tracking program and test it. They will learn how to program their robot to follow a line.
    Recover the Moon Buggy - In this challenge, students will be assigned the goal of rescuing the moon buggy. This involves following a line and programming robot to move in a way that will pick up the ‘buggy‘.
    MATERIALS/RESOURCES: LEGO Mindstorms Kit Laptop/Desktop computers (with EV3 Software installed) Terraformers CD-Rom This week, students may have trouble with: * using the default sensor point. It may be easier for the teacher to have students build their robots with the sensors wired correctly into the default ports. * Remembering the icons - students should use their Robotics Journal to draw pictures of the different icons and to describe what each icon does * Building a gripper to grab the moon buggy. This will be another opportunity where students will need to be provided with the opportunity to explore and use trial and error (making notes of their attempts in their Robotics journal).
  • Working with the Touch and Ultrasonic Sensors in more detail Week ThreeDuring week one, students learned how to use the touch and ultrasonic sensors guided by specific sequenced directions. This week, students will use feedback from their touch sensor to identify that they reached a particular spot. The students will:
    * design a robot that will reach a ‘water tower‘ and position the water extraction pipeline.
    * program their robots to use combination
    * design and build an extraction pipe as well as a touch sensor apparatus to contact the water tower.

    Learning objectives for this week include the students ability to:
    * explain the ultrasonic sensor
    * calculate threshold levels
    * program their robot to complete a challenge
    Activities this week for the student will be to build a robot with a touch sensor attachment on the front of the robot and program it to perform various functions. Students should draw the designs in their Robotics journal and discuss with another group before attempting any building.
    MATERIALS/RESOURCES: LEGO Mindstorms Kit Laptop/Desktop computers (with EV3 Software installed) Terraformers CD-Rom If students have trouble with this concept, they can see an example of the touch sensor on the CD ROM at Entropy/ Programming/ Sensors/ Touch: Wait for Push
  • Working with the Sound Sensor in more detail Week FourDuring week one, students learned how to use the sound sensors following sequenced directions from the computer. This week, students will learn to use feedback form the sound sensor to trigger the motor to shut down the solar station.

    Learning objectives for this week include:
    * explaining how the sound sensor works
    * writing a program to navigate through the volcanoes
    * using the view screen on the robot to read the feedback from the sound sensor
    * Calculating threshold
    * designing a mechanism to shut down the solar system

    The objectives for this week include for the student to:
    MATERIALS/RESOURCES: LEGO Mindstorms Kit Laptop/Desktop computers (with EV3 Software installed) Terraformers CD-ROM For students that need enrichment, additional activities can be found at ENTROPY/Programming/Challenges
  • Week Five - Putting it all Together Space ChallengesFor the culminating week, the students can choose one (or more) of the missions to attempt with their robots. Descriptions of the missions can be found on the Terraformers CD-ROM. For each mission attempted, students should use their Robotics journal to draw out their prototype and discuss the proposed robot with at least one other group.

    The ‘missions‘ (found on the Terrafromers CD-ROM - on planet PANTHEON) include:
    * Plant the Flag
    * Rescue the Moon Buggy
    * Plug the Volcano
    * Pulverize the Rocks
    * Analyze the Fumaroles
    * Deploy the Habitats
    * Retrieve the Batteries
    * Extract the Lake Water
    * Align the Solar Panel
    * Power up the Satellite
    MATERIALS/RESOURCES: LEGO Mindstorms Kit Laptop/Desktop computers (with EV3 Software installed) Terraformers CD-ROM Hold a parent day on the final day to have the students share their work and describe what they have learned through the robotics unit

Instructional Techniques

  • Teacher DirectedLecture and modeling of initial programming
    Assist with hands-on experiences
    Leading class discussions
    Promoting higher order thinking through questioning during student presentations
  • Hands-on ExposureStudents will work in small groups (2-3 students) using the LEGO Mindstorms equipment and a computer to develop programs that make their robots perform various functions
  • Inter/Intrapersonal skillsStudents will work with partners to design and program their robots. They will have to negotiate the design, problem solve collaboratively and practice turn-taking and active listening skills.

Assessment Techniques

  • DiscussionThe teacher will lead discussions with students regarding their products and to identify any unique strategies for creating their robots. The teacher will evaluate both the level of participation as well as the quality of each student`s response (how well it indicates understanding and demonstrates higher order thinking skills).
  • RubricsA rubric will be developed and shared with students for each task. The rubric will identify the elements of a successful robot construction and programming. (to be developed)
  • Oral PresentationAt the conclusion of each week, students will present their completed robot to the class. Students will be asked to explain how they constructed the robot, any challenges encountered, and how they responded to those challenges. Evaluation of the oral presentation will be through the use of a rubric (to be developed).
  • Self AssessmentStudents will be asked to self assess their learning. This self assessment will include components such as:
    * level of participation in group
    * problem solving with the group
    * understanding of concepts from the unit
    * reflection on the essential understandings

Activity Sheets

  • To Be Determined

    The activity sheets will be developed as the working team continues to develop the unit.

Frameworks / Skills

  • English Language Arts
    Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
    (English Language Arts)

Tags = engineering | technology | Subject = Science | Grade Level = MS | Time Period = School Year | Program/Funding = | 189 |
Direct website link to this project: