Students work in groups to build a vehicle using NXT kits that includes a wheel and axle and has to be able to hold a ball. To discourage everyone from using a basic car design, their designs cannot have exactly four wheels. Once their design is complete (including motors and the NXT brick), each group learns how to use on brick programming to make their vehicle move the ball across their workspace.
Improved understanding of the wheel and axle as a simple machine. Students gain skill building with NXT kits and using on brick programming.
-NXT kits (1 per group)
Preparation and Set Up:
Consider bringing extra Legos for groups to build with, prepare to talk about the project in terms of the Engineering Design Process and simple machines.
Introduce the project by talking about the importance of the wheel and axle as a simple machine.
Tell them the objective: to make a vehicle that can’t have exactly four wheels, includes the NXT brick and motors, and is capable of carrying the NXT ball across their workspace.
Explain the project in terms of the Engineering Design Process, discuss which steps would be best to focus on for this project.
We drew the entire Engineering Design Process on the board and went over each step, asking them how they though the steps fit into this activity. At the end of the discussion we decided that the most important steps for this activity would probably be developing/ sketching solutions, prototyping, and communicating with other group members.
Separate students into groups of 3-5.
Most teachers already have some method of grouping students, or know which students shouldn’t be in a group together.
Give them the rest of the first hour to sketch a design and then build it.
Make sure each group includes motors and the NXT brick into their design.
If the lesson is taking place over two, one-hour blocks leave 5-10 minutes at the end of the first block for cleanup.
Once a group has their vehicle fully assembled, show them how to make it move using on brick programming.
Make sure each member of the group gets a chance to try programming, and show them how to do things like change direction, turn, and loop through a set of instructions.
If any of the groups finish early, show them how to add sensors and change the on brick program to respond to sensor input.
Leave 15 minutes for each group to demonstrate their finished vehicle and clean up.
Set up an example of each type of simple machine machine at stations around the classroom. Each station should have NXT kits, or Lego/ found materials, available for students to try mimic building each machine of their own design. It is important that for each simple machine there is an example of the machine being used in the real world (this can be done with pictures at each station, or video). This will help to get them to think about their own real world examples. End with a general discussion and “show and tell” of the simple machines they made during class. If there is time also discuss how each simple machine could be improved.
Introduce students to the seven simple machines. Prepare students for a curriculum involving building/ using simple machines.
-NXT kits (for preparing examples)
-Lego simple machine kits
-real world example pictures/ videos
-Legos in classroom for students to make their own
-assorted found materials
Preparation and Set Up:
Construct (out of Legos or found materials) an example of each simple machine before going into the class. Find a way to display pictures or video of a real world example of each simple machine to display at each station.
Prepare an example of each simple machine before going into the classroom
Note: All of the simple machines could be built with either Legos or found materials. We found that Legos worked best for building the inclined plane, wheel and axle, pulley, gear, and lever examples. We used Tetrix to demonstrate the screw and a doorstop to demonstrate the wedge.
Print a picture of a real world example for each simple machine.
Before going to the classroom, make sure they have enough NXT kits, assorted Legos, or found materials for students to build their own simple machine examples.
Consider bringing in extra supplies and Lego pieces since NXT kits don’t work extremely well for building every type of simple machine.
In the classroom, introduce each simple machine and set up the examples at seven stations around the classroom. Ask them to think about (or write down) what tasks each machine could be used for, how do they make these tasks easier, and how the examples that the STOMPers built could be better.
Allow students to walk around between stations and attempt to build their own version of each simple machine.
Leave the last 10 minutes for students to present the examples they built and discuss the points they considered during the class time.
More time might be required depending on how much cleanup there is.
Students will program cars to play a game of “Red Light, Green Light” based on sound. Robots will race each other, but have to stop at hearing a clap, go on the next clap, etc.
Learn the use of the sound sensor.
NXT Kit, laptop
Preparation and Set Up:
Have a defined start and end line for the race.
Have a functioning car to be programmed, knowledge of programming loops.
1. Brainstorm the programming strategy. 2. Program the cars to alternately stop and go on hearing a noise. 3. Refine the decibel threshold of the sound sensor so it is not too sensitive or overly sensitive. 4. Have the cars race each other, disqualifying cars if they don’t follow the rules.
This could be modified to use another sensor as the “light.”
-Make copies of the Project Proposal Worksheets (1 per group)
1. Give instructions: Students are to design a pet dog. The dog should use two sensors to mimic dog behavior. 2. Have the students fill out a project proposal form. It’s important that they clearly explain which behavior they wish to mimic and how they will go about mimicking it with the NXT. Demand precision and specificity in their project proposals. 3. Once a group has had their proposal approved, give them their NXT kit and their laptop so they can get to work!
Students can continue to develop their robotic dogs.
Students flip coins to determine the genetic makeup of a baby smiley from mom and dad smilies. Next, the children “breed” their smilies to try and make a specific smiley.
- learn about dominant and recessive traits.
- learn about heterogeneous and homogeneous genetic makeup.
- learn about genetic engineering.
1 unique smiley for every student in class with genetic makeup.
key for genetic makeup
1 coin per student
Baby smiley worksheet
Preparation and Set Up:
Print out attached documents, or make your own.
Lesson – 10 minutes Ask all brunettes to raise their hands Ask all blonds to raise their hands Why are there more brunettes? Brown hair is a dominant trait! explain how if you inherit a dominant gene, you will show that trait no matter what gene it’s paired with. What are some other inherited traits? (have students see who has dominant and recessive traits) widows peak (dominant) hitchhikers thumb (recessive) rolling tongue (dominant) left thumb over right when hands are interlaced (left over right – dominant) attached/detached earlobes (detached – dominant) You inherit traits from your parents! which gene you inherit from each parent is just like a flip of a coin! Talk with students about genetic engineering- breeding to achieve favorable traits. This includes seedless fruit, large vegetables, and fast horses. Activity – 40 minutes Hand out a smiley and a coin to each student. With their partner, students should have a set of ‘parent’ smileys, and two coins. One trait at a time, students flip coins to determine which gene is passed on from the parent smiley. Heads means the first trait is passed, tails means the second trait is passed. Students fill out their ‘baby smiley’ worksheet to determine the genetic make up of the baby, and then draw the child in the box. activity phase two – if time permits Students draw a smiley using their favorite traits, and go around the room flipping coins with other smilies to try and ‘breed’ their favorite smiley. Students should keep track of how many generations it took them to arrive at their smiley.
mini turbines, turbines, construct, wind, wind farm, alternative energy
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
1 Hour Total
Students build mini turbines and the class splits into two teams to construct competing wind farms. The farm with the most “energy generation” wins.
To introduce students to alternative energies.
- Push pins
- Two fans
Lesson How does a car drive? energy! We use energy all the time… and where does the energy from cars come from? gasoline! what’s wrong with using gasoline as energy? there is a finite amount of it on the earth, It can run out! also, it is harmful to the environment. What are some sources of energy that don’t run out?
The sun (for all intents and purposes)
A lot of time, effort, and resources are being put into developing alternative, renewable energy sources. How can we harness the wind’s power? Turbines! Today we’ll be making turbines. What are some things to think about when designing and installing a turbine?
Making it high enough so it is not affected by the boundary layer friction caused by the ground.
Making the base strong enough to counteract the moment caused by the wind.
Making the base strong enough to counteract the moment caused by the spinning blades.
Activity Hand out materials, and have students construct pinwheels according to the directions in the attached document. When all the pinwheels are completed, split the class into two teams to construct competing wind farms. For a successful farm, each turbine should get its own free stream of wind, and should not catch any of the turbulence coming off of a turbine near it.
Collect and clean out the milk cartons. Make sure the axles are long enough to go through the cartons. Perhaps experiment with different wheels to find which ones work best.
Teach about hydrogen power and why people are considering it. Do worksheet. Do activity.
Race the cars! Use different size balloons and compare how fast and how far the cars go.
The link shows a picture with the balloon on top of the car- but it works best if it is on the back of the car. The students figured this out on their own- so it might be best to let them experiment and learn it by themselves…