Back To Top Class Organization:Project Format:
A robotics project can take mulitiple forms and can focus on a variety of outcomes depending on time, current areas of interest, student preferences, and robotics experience. Teachers can have projects revolve around a theme like Mars exploration, or they can allow student's to decide the task or problem their robot will solve.
Each group was asked to design, build, and program a robot that could perform a task to help them using the Robolab robotics kits. Each group was given an RCX box, and a motor, and had access to whatever other pieces they needed (Lego bricks, wheels, axels, sensors, lights etc.). The only stipulations were that their robot must perform a task and that it must be programmed.
Class Structure During Robotics Projects
Whole Class Discussion
At the beginning of each robotics period, the whole class should assemble on the carpet for a whole class discussion. This step helps reinforce expectations and goals for the period. During this time the class can review and discuss frustrations, celebrations and strategies developed from the previous lesson. Elicit children's ideas, and discuss individual group's goals.Open Creation Time
Mini-lessons/discussions on topics relating to the unit. For example, discussions on how robots affect society, or a discussion on how gears work. The teacher may give mini experiments for the children to work on to solidify concepts.
The bulk of the Robotics period should be reserved for the hands-on construction and programming of robots. The teacher and volunteers should circulate amoung the groups offering guiding questions and support. This is also a good time to take ancedotal notes and digital pictures of the learning process.Sharing
Children will work with groups on the floor throughout the class area. They will share lego material from bins (two groups per bin). Robolab should be set up and ready to save on computers during this time. Children should be able to freely move between the building, programming and testing components of the project.
The class should reconvene as a group after each robotics period to share their progress. This time is valuable for children to learn from each other, and to help them to think meta-cognitively about their learning.Reflections Journal
The children should sit in a circle so each group can demonstrate the progress of their robot.
Give students time to write in their reflections journal. Here children will individually write about their learning process, including their frustrations, celebrations and goals.
- Journals can include drawings and digital pictures.
- Teacher should give feed back in these journals between robotics lessons.
Back to Top Sample Lesson Topics:Students were placed in collaborative groups in order to facilitate teamwork and problem solving. The groups ranged between 3 to 4 students, any more than this could impede communication and active participation.
Emphasis was placed on work skills and strategies. These ideas were introduced at the beginning of the unit and reinforced on throughout the project.Students were grouped according to gender because of the differing levels of experience with Lego and building, as well as creative and learning style differences.
All group members must disucss and compromise on design changes and program ideas. Group members must share the different tasks, to ensure that each student enjoys equal learning opportunitiesin the different areas of robotics construction. Students must understand that they need to develop strategies to solve their own problems, and that the adults supervising are there to support them rather than solve their problems.
The following are examples of discussion topics for the WHOLE CLASS DISCUSSIONS at the
beginning of each class.
Introductory Lessons (#1-#2)
The following throughlines should be addressed as they are needed, on an recurring basis.
- Introduction of Materials
- Introduction to RCX box (Remote Command System) and the concepts of input and output.
- Discussion on definition of a ROBOT (See all about robots).
- Discussion on how robots affect human lives.
The Design Process
- Explain the Design Process: A dynamic process of designing, building, programming, testing, (re-designing and re-building) and evaluating. Students should understand that they are engineers, and that engineers must problem solve and revisit problems many times.
- How do you make structures strong?
- The meaning an importance of realiabilty.
- How to build specific systems ex. Drive system using gears.
- Introduction of graphical programming elements and software. Including placing programming icons on the screen, stringing the chain of commands together and fixing bad wires. (Using an LCD projector and Robolab software is the best method as children can visually see what you are explaning).
- Discussion of programming logic (list of commands, must complete everything you start, etc.)
- Demonstration on how to download finished program into the RCX box via the infared tower connected to the COM port.
- Saving in shared folders.
Mini-Lessons on Children's Frustrations
- Discussion on the concept of de-bugging (programming is a process which will require testing and modification).
- Teaching programming methods: creating loops, collecting data, including music, multitasking, sending mail between RCX units.
Back to TopICT Outcomes
- Discussions on problems encountered by students. (Reflection journal entries can help guide these lessons). The children can share frustrations, strategies and things they learned. Examples: Gears and gear ratios, sensors, making robots structurally strong.