Posted by Marc-Andre Bazergui (bazmarc) March 08, 2019 ROBOT REMIX #6 Share Get link Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email Other Apps Post a Comment
I direct the experiential learning program at a small independent high school in New Hampshire.
I haven't used Legos yet to teach, but I'm very curious to. I think experiential learning often gets stereotyped into camping trips for troubled teens.
The kinds of programs we operate and Lego is more the direction I think we should be going.
We are a small school (320 students) so we would struggle to get the numbers to field a full robotics team, but I think there are still ways we could integrate this kind of technology into our classrooms.
Thanks for your great blog! I enjoy every post!
I think one of the things that needs to be figured out is how to take robot building and programming and show these troubled teens how it pays to never stop learning... maybe that's a little too cliche, but I think back to how easy it could have been for me to go one direction in school versus another - a few good teachers made the difference and convinced me that science wasn't "nerdy" and that I could actually make things myself with a basic understanding of a few electronics concepts.
I'd love to hear more about what you do in your courses and the challenges you have designed.
What types of activities do you do in your after school Lego robotics club? Are you primarily focused on FIRST Lego League or do you have other curriculum that you use?
I looked up your high school - that sounds like a really fun place to work. I loved the following quote from your school's website:
"Some students bring to our community a gift of quick comprehension or sharp memory. Some bring gifts of their agile movement, creativity, organization, or thoughtfulness. Others bring musicality, exuberance and dexterity. All those abilities flourish here because we make a point to cherish each of them."
Your experiential learning program would seem to be a natural fit for Legos. Getting students interested by integrating the technology into classrooms first sounds like a good approach. The Legos could be utilized to support several different curriculum areas, including some that may not be obvious:
- Create kinetic art
- Perform science inquiries that utilize the NXT's sensors and datalogging capabilities
I'd be happy to brainstorm with you to come up with ways to integrate the Legos into your classrooms.
For maximum learning per buck, I use AVR micros (ATmega48 is less than $2) with gcc (free). Along with a Tamiya gearbox and a few other components we can build a whole robot from scratch for less than $US25. We build the circuits on strip board to keep things cheap and simple.
For more complex programming we use Lejos on NXT.
I'd be particularly interested how many teachers in Germany actually use LEGO in their courses?
I've got the impression that (most regrettably) such kind of "hands-on" teaching is not very common at German schools still - the States seem to be far more advanced on this area.
I'm glad you had teachers who enabled you to make things! Too often science class is about absorbing the dogmatic canon of the subject instead of the processes, traits, and values that lead to scientific discovery. Science ought to be the most exciting thing ever taught - the pursuit of this field brought us from the stone age to the information age right?
Hi Larry! Thanks for checking out the school's site! I love the kinetic art and datalogging ideas - I hadn't thought beyond robotics yet! I'd love to think about more ideas to use the NXT in our classrooms.
One thing we're floating right now is three hour classes on saturdays (we're a boarding school) to integrate traditional learning with applied learning. Could be a prime opportunity to use this kind of method.
Where are good places to go for sharing activities, curricula, learning resources?
More info is available on our website. You have to navigate by selecting age and month, but if you check them all, you'll see them all. Unfortunately, there's no way to sort classes by topic.
Here's an example of one of my week-long summer classes:
Learn about medieval technology and archaeology. Build drawbridges, catapults, and a castle using LEGO Technic pieces.
Date: Mon-Fri, July 16-20
Time: 1-4 p.m.
Actually, we'll build the castle out of regular LEGO elements, but the drawbridge, catapults, battering ram, and siege engine will be built with Technic pieces as well as regular pieces.
Our technology center may upgrade to the NXT in the future. For now, they are content with the RCX and PICO Crickets.
The girls will use NXTs to "conduct a hovercraft rescue mission to save people who are stranded next to a river".
I'll email the coordinator of the festival to get more details.
So far it's been interesting. I'm planning to offer a gen ed course on NXT next fall too.
As far as what I do with my students,once the basics of programming and building have been mastered, I usually devise competitions for them to compete in.
The last competition that we did with the RCX's was pretty simple and fun. I taped off an area on the floor of our computer lab, and the students needed to design and programm a robot to enter the area and remove as many barrels of "toxic waste" as they could in the shortest amount of time. The barrels were empty pop cans. I taped off the area with white tape, so on dark blue carpet, most of the kids used a light sensor to prevent the robot from leaving the area.
We started with the NXT kits this week. Some of the groups have started to play around with the new programming environment, and seem to have taken to it pretty easily. One interesting thing to note is that all of the kids agreed that building with the new "studless" system was easier.
I do not use any set curriculum. The students generally sart to build the base robots that are shown in the educational version, and from their they create and improve them all on their own. I have found that the discovery method of teaching works the best. Give the kids a challenge and have them discover how to solve it on their own.
I would welcome any new competition ideas or suggestions that would work well, and take advantage of the new ultrasonic sensor. I think that the club will be ready for a new challenge very soon.
In the fall, the concentration is on FLL - we had three teams - but now that FLL is over, I am working with one of the sixth grade teachers, introducing Lego robotics to his full class, most of whom have no experience. We are trying to solve the challenges in Jim Kelly's book, which tied in nicely, since the class had recently been studying the Mayan civilization. We are using RCX's and Robolab, since the school doesn't yet have enough NXT's to go around. (At this point, I think that Robolab is a superior teaching tool compared to NXT-G, but since we are using RCX's, we don't have a choice, anyway.)
In previous years, we have used Barbara Bratzel's book, "Physics by Design" - a new edition including the NXT just came out. She is an eighth grade science teacher who has been using Lego in her classes for years. The kids really enjoyed doing the data-logging activities from the book. We have also used many of the challenges in "Engineering with Lego Bricks and Robolab", by Eric Wang, which is an indespensible book if you are working with Robolab. A new version of his book is due next month. Both are available from collegehousebooks.com.
Some good sites for activities and curricula are:
This should give you some good ideas to start with.
Barbara Bratzel and Eric Wang both presented at the LEGO Engineering Symposium in January at Tufts University's Center for Engineering Educational Outreach (CEEO). You can access copies of their PowerPoints, along with a wide variety of other resources from the Symposium at http://ceeo.tufts.edu/content/view/108.
Did you get any additional details on the "Lego Robotics Festival for Girls" hosted at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada? That sounds very interesting and I'd love to know more!
I emailed the coordinator for the event but haven't heard from her.
If anyone else would like to contact her, her contact info follows:
Anissa Agah St.Pierre
University of Victoria
I appreciate it!
I'm Andrew Lee from Malaysia. I run LEGO Mindstorms workshops for children during weekends. Usually they are from 8-12 years old, mostly boys, occasionally girls. I took an online course from CMU (for RIS) and develop my own content to suit the children here. Half of my proceed goes to charity especially children homes. The other half, mostly spent on batteries, snacks and refreshments, replacement parts, props and such. The rate I’m are going, I can’t quit my day-time job just yet!!
Info and pics of what we have been up to are on our school website:
I am teaching NXT in Spain, in a
fundation, I am very interested in
contact with another teachers.
My email: email@example.com
There are quite a few NXT experts in Australia... we've got one here - Damien Kee. Email me your contact info and I'll put you in touch with him...