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Robotics and the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity


  • Project TitleRobotics and the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity
  • MA Curriculum FrameworksScience and Technology/Engineering Frameworks
    English Language Arts
  • School ContactGary Reese, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum
    781-937-8233, extension 11201
  • School / DistrictWoburn Public Schools
  • Brief DescriptionAt the high school level, students will learn how to design combat robots in order to expose them to the world of manufacturing and engineering. Students will work with a teacher advisor and mentors from local manufacturing and technology businesses in the Woburn area. The students will then have an opportunity to participate in a robotics competition at the end of the school year.

    Students will work in a hands-on environment to reinforce technical principles and to increase students’ exposure to and interest in STEM related professions. The collaboration with local industry leaders will help increase students’ exposure to the world of manufacturing and engineering.

    Both activities will enable students to build 21st century skills.
  • PartnersNational Robotics League
    Artisans‘ Asylum
    Boston Tooling and Manufacturing Association
  • 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 1Steven Tamasi, President/CEO of Boston Centerless, gives Paul Hayes, Woburn Memorial High School teacher, a tour of the factory during a recent visit to meet with Mr. Tamasi regarding combat robotics. Mr. Tamasi is also the commissioner of the National Robotics League and a great resource as we begin to develop our program at the high school.
  •  /project498_7024/IMG_1592.jpg

Key Questions

  • Key QuestionsHow is creativity and innovation used in engineering design?
    How do teams work collaboratively to solve problems?
    What is the role of robotics and engineering in everyday life?
    How do you build a better robot?
  • Connections: How or why was this topic identified? Why is it meaningful?This is a meaningful topic because it gives students to engage in an activity that is engaging and has a clear purpose. Students will utilize a variety of creativity and problem solving skills to develop their robots and to critically reflect on how to make improvements to their robots so that they can compete in the National Robotics League challenge.
  • Background Research: What resources were used to find background information for this project?DEPCO, LLC (2013). Combat Gears Educational System.
  • Outcomes: What was the outcome? How was it shared or applied in the community?Outcomes for this curriculum include:
    * Increased opportunities for students to participate in hands-on technology/engineering coursework
    * Increase in the number of students pursuing STEAM careers or post-secondary education in STEAM related fields
    * Increase in the number of students passing the High School Technology MCAS assessment
  • Family: Any opportunities to involve parent/guardians and other family members in this project?Family members will be invited to be assistant coaches to the students as they design and refine their robots and participate in the National Robotics League challenges.

Units / Activities

  • Safety Procedures 2 weeksStudents will be introduced to the shop environment and will learn about:
    * Equipment
    * Shop procedures
    * Tool identification
    * the Design Process

    In addition, each student will create a toolbox with all tools that they will need to work on the robot development
  • Building Your First Gears Combat Robot 2 WeeksThe students will follow step-by-step instructions to build their first combat robot. This will help them gain an understanding of the basics of robot construction and how the different components of the robot work together to help it function appropriately. Students will maintain an engineering notebook where they will document the progression of their project. This will allow them to easily find and fix errors and discover which ideas work best.DEPCO Robot Kit DEPCO (2013). Combat Construction Guide.
  • Making it Better/Design Process 6 weeksIn this unit, students will explore methods to improve the function of their combat robots using the design process (see attached document for description of design process)

    This unit includes developing an understanding of:
    * Designing and strengthening the Chassis
    * Center of Gravity
    * Protecting your robot using armor
    * the drivetrain system
    * different types of motors
    * utilizing different drive assemblies and batteries
    * Controllers
    * Weapons
    DEPCO Robot Kit DEPCO (2013). Combat Construction Guide
  •  /project498_7024/design-process.png
  • Real Life Applications 1 WeekStudents will have an opportunity to explore different careers in engineering/technology and will visit different industry leaders (ie. iRobot, Precision Machining, etc) to learn about how robots are used in the manufacturing of products, as well as how robots assist in everyday life. Students will also have an opportunity to engage with engineers to gain a better understanding of their role in the design process.Funding for field trips
  • The Competition 1 WeekAs a culmination to this project, students will participate in the National Robotics League competition. They will continue to write in the engineering notebook where they will reflect on different designs of their competitors and ways to improve their product. Prior to participating in the competition, the students will present their combat robots to students in lower grade levels in order to generate continued enthusiasm for participation in the engineering courses.Funding for trip expenses to NRL Competition

Instructional Techniques

  • Teacher Directedlecture and modeling of initial programming techniques
    Assist with hands-on learning experiences
    Leading class discussions
    Promoting higher order thinking through questioning during student demonstrations
  • Hands-on ExposureStudents will work in small groups using the DEPCO Combat Robotics materials to design and improve robots that can be used in a combat robotics experiences
  • Inter/Intrapersonal skillsStudents will work with partners to design 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.designs 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 of concepts/skills and demonstrates higher order thinking).
  • RubricsA rubric will be developed and shared with students. The rubric will identify the elements of a successful robot.
  • Oral PresentationAt the end of each unit, the students will present their robot prototype to the class. Students will explain how they constructed the robot, challenges encountered and solutions tried, and they will describe their process (using their engineering notebook as a reference). Grading will be through 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 within their group
    * problem solving of the group
    * Understanding of concepts from the unit
    * reflections on the essential understandings

Activity Sheets

  • Activity sheets will be developed later in the process.

Frameworks / Skills

  • Science (HS)
    Identify and explain the steps of the engineering design process: identify the problem, research the problem, develop possible solutions, select the best possible solution(s), construct prototypes and/or models, test and evaluate, communicate the solutions, and redesign.
    (Science (HS))
  • Science (HS)
    Produce and analyze multi-view drawings (orthographic projections) and pictorial drawings (isometric, oblique, perspective), using various techniques.
    (Science (HS))
  • Science (HS)
    Interpret and apply scale and proportion to orthographic projections and pictorial drawings (e.g.,
    (Science (HS))
  • Science (HS)
    Interpret plans, diagrams, and working drawings in the construction of prototypes or models.
    (Science (HS))
  • Science (HS)
    Identify and explain the engineering properties of materials used in structures (e.g.,
    (Science (HS))
  • Science (HS)
    Identify and demonstrate the safe and proper use of common hand tools, power tools, and measurement devices used in construction.
    (Science (HS))
  • Science (HS)
    Identify the criteria necessary to select the tools and procedures used in the safe production of products in the manufacturing process (e.g.,
    (Science (HS))

Tags = construction-design | creativity/innovation | technology | engineering | Subject = ELA, Mathematics, Science | Grade Level = HS | Time Period = School Year | Program/Funding = | 189 |
Direct website link to this project: