Name of Unit Automated Assembly Line
Author(s) Matt Long, Jake Hellman
School Josiah Quincy School
Teacher Mr. Ho
Brief Description Introduce the importance of assembly lines and the ways that robots can be used to make them even more efficient. Focus on automation and as little human interaction as possible. Start by giving the students instructions on how to build simple mechanisms, allow them to figure out how to make it work after they have it built.After these challenges, have the students come up with an idea for something they’d like to build on an assembly line, and then give them the remaining weeks to work in groups and between groups to construct a completed assembly line (well, ideally – time became an issue).There will be a complete curriculum outline uploaded at the end of the semester.
Grade(s) 4th
Keywords Automation, Assembly line, NXT, Robotics,
Number of Weeks 10
Week 1 INTRODUCTION TO AUTOMATION/ASSEMBLY LINESThis week was focused on us introducing ourselves, the concept of assembly lines, and the concept of automation. We talked about using assembly lines to increase efficiency, using Henry Ford and cars as an example. We made an example assembly line using three student volunteers for a “homework submitting machine” – the student in front facing us lifted his hands above his head when he got a paper, the student in the middle grabbed a paper up high and rotated 180 degrees, and the last student grabbed it up high and brought it down low again. We then talked about the engineering design process and how each step applied to Henry Ford and his assembly line, leading up to modern car development (multiple loops around the process). We closed the class by having a competition – the students split into groups of five, and we had them do a paper airplane assembly line. Each student did a fold for a simple plane, and at the end we had them “race” to see who could make the best plane the fastest.
Week 2 The Pusher (Day 1)We had kids start assembling their “pusher” machines. Since this class coincided with Chinese New Year, there were only seven students who did not make as much progress as we anticipated.
Week 3 The Pusher (Day 2)Because the kids did not finish building their pushers and seemed to not be enjoying the solo work on constructing them, Jake and I went in early to finish the instruction-following parts of the project. Students began attempting to attach motors to their pushers and attach the motor/pusher combo to their bricks.
Week 4 The Pusher (Day 3)While some students were still finishing up their attachments, other groups moved on from on-brick programming to Mindstorms programming. The way the pushers were constructed made on-brick programming unusable for testing, so they used Mindstorms to confirm that their pieces worked as well as programming them to push in a workable pattern.
Week 5 The Chopper (Day 1)The next machine the students were responsible for building was the “chopper”. Since they seemed to not enjoy following complex instructions to build their first machine, we gave the kids free reign over how they wanted to design their chopper. We gave them the parameter that it had to chop through a sheet of toilet paper.
Week 6 The Chopper (Day 2)The kids finished building/attaching their choppers and completed the programming aspect of it (which for some was a continuous spinning loop and others was a continuous chopping motion). They tested on a roll of thin standard toilet paper. The two-ply was too strong for some of their choppers, while most were able to cut through the single separated ply.
Week 7 Simple Challenges [day before spring break]
Week 8 Final assembly line project (Day 1)Up until now, using sensors was optional in the students’ machines. For the final project, we required the use of sensors on their machines. The students had to build a robot that interacted with people through sensors. The plan was for the students to get familiar with sensors, then have a showcase on the last day, where the students could walk around and play with each other’s robots. We came in with an example robot that used a sound sensor to demonstrate, then required that they use either the light, touch, or ultrasonic sensor (testing with the sound sensor would be hard, because the classroom was often noisy. Also, this way they couldn’t copy our design).

We split the class into groups of three, and let them choose among themselves who would be lead programmer, lead designer, and lead builder to keep them on task. They began planning, and a couple groups got to building.

Week 9 Final assembly line project (Day 2)The students continued working on their designs from last week. We handed out laptops for programming ten minutes into the class, making sure they had a solid build first. We hoped for them to finish their programming today so tomorrow could be exclusively a showcase where each group could show off their robot, but only half the groups finished.
Week 10 Final assembly line project (Day 3)This day’s plan was the same as the previous day – we gave the kids twenty minutes to finish up their builds, and then we let them each give a presentation at the front of the room. There wasn’t enough time to set up the showcase and let them all walk around, but this way they got to explain their design, demonstrate it for the class, and talk about the designing and building process.

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