Name of Activity Introduction to Sensors-Ultrasonic Sensor
Author Danish Bhatti, Kenny Westermann
Keywords NXT Robotics, Sensors, Ultrasonic Sensor, Datalogging
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description An introduction to robotics would be incomplete without imparting a basic understanding of how robots perceive their environment and react to it. We did this activity to add more dimensions to the functionalities of the robots that our class made. Up till now the robots could not function with respect to external stimuli and performed only simple tasks.

Once we put sensors into the equation, robotics suddenly became much more engaging for the students since their creations started displaying a sense of awareness as compared to the mindless drones that they were before.

At the start of the lesson, we began by trying to show the class how animals in nature perceive their environments. We also discussed how humans use their eyes ears and touch to understand different aspects of our environment. Then we worked on relating this concept to robots and NXT robots in particular. How the sensors corresponded to some of the key senses of the human body, how the NXT brick functioned as the Brain and how motors resembled muscles in their role as actuators.

Then we moved on to talk about the ultrasonic sensor and its functions. We also spent some time teaching the class how they could incorporate the sensors into their mindstorms programs. In the previous lesson we had introduced the wait-for command so the class was very quick to catch on.

We gave the class some time to install the sensors on their robots and then we simply put up a checklist of tasks we wanted the class to have their robots perform–tasks that had at least one part which relied on the use of the ultrasonic sensor. e.g: If anything comes closer to the robot than 20cm, have the robot panic and run backwards at full speed for 2 seconds.

Lesson Objectives: Understanding the concept of a sensor.
Where sensors are found in the natural world.
How does the Ultrasonic sensor work?
How to write a program that can make use of ultrasonic sensorsor sensors in general?
Altering the design of your robot to ensure optimum placement for the sensor.
Materials Needed: NXT Kit
Computers w/ NXT software
Preparation and Set Up: None
Necessary Background Experience making NXT robots that rely on sensors.
Procedure 1-What are Sensors? 2-Where can we find them in the real world? 3-What is an ultrasonic sensor and how does it work? 4-Adding the sensor to the robot. 5-Programming it. 6-Testing the machine 7-Optimization
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