## NXT Calculator

Name of Activity NXT Calculator Jay Clark NXT, calculator, build, operate, numbers, math block, display block, user interface, 1 Hour Total NXTs 7, 8, 9+ 1 Hour Total Students build and program an NXT calculator that can operate on two numbers. Programming with the math block Learning the display block A first exposure to user interfaces 1 NXT kit per group Computers with Minstorms NXT software This is an open ended challenge that is sure to challenge students’ programming knowledge and yield many unique solutions. Students must think about how they are going to input numbers, and how they are going to choose the operator. http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/l.jpg

## Challenge Day!

Name of Activity Challenge Day! Jay Clark difficulty, tasks, points, programming, risk, reward, risk vs. reward, NXT, MINDSTORMS, 3 Hours Total NXTs K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+ 3 Hours Total Students choose from a list of different tasks with a range of difficulty levels and varying point values. The group with the most points at the end of the class period wins! Review Programming Skills. A first exposure to making risk/reward decisions. One NXT kit per group Computers with Mindstorms NXT software Black electrical tape Put together a list of challenges on a worksheet. They should range in difficulty level from very, very simple to challenges that are more or less impossible to complete. Assign point values to the activities based on their difficulty, keeping in mind that close scores are more fun and drive the students to keep working. An example worksheet is attached below. This activity is as much of an activity in assessing risk/reward and strategy as it is in programming. Some students will complete many tasks with simple, fundamental programming. Others will bite off more than they can chew, and end up without many points at all. Introduce challenge day and go over what each challenge calls for specifically. Hand out worksheets and set a strict time limit. Update scores on an overhead or white board. After the time is up, talk with children about risk/reward, and about how hard each challenge was. If they could do it over again, which would they choose? which were fastest. http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/i.doc

## Peak Performance

Name of Activity Peak Performance Jay Clark NXT, car, course, fastest, flat, inclined, gear, gear ratios, torque, speed, optimization, building, drive gear, driven gear, 1 Hour Total NXTs K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+ 1 Hour Total Students must gear their NXT car to complete the course the fastest. The course consists of a flat section and an inclined section. To learn about gear ratios, gearing for torque vs gearing for speed, optimization, and building. NXT kit Ramp Computers running MINDSTORMS Prepare one or more courses – With a flat beginning and an incline ending. The length of both sections will determine the optimum gear ratio. To allow for extensions, set up other courses with varying distances of the course components. Using gear ratios students can gear their cars for more torque or more speed. If the drive gear is bigger than the driven gear, the car will be geared for speed. If the other way around, it will be geared for torque. A car geared for torque will be slower, but will climb better. A car geared for speed will be quick, but might not be able to climb the ramp. Vocabulary: Gear Ratio – The ratio of the speed of rotation of the drive gear of a gear train to that of the driven gear. Drive Gear- The gear attached to the source of torque. (Usually the motor). Driven Gear – The gear that receives motion from the drive gear. Optimization – Finding a balance between design concerns that yields the best solution. Introduction – 10 Minutes Ask students if they’ve ever used gears before. More than likely, they’ve driven a 10 speed bike before, and never knew how the gears worked. Introduce students to gears and gear ratios. Using a pre-made gear train, show them the size of the drive gear and the driven gear, and ask if the driven gear will spin faster or slower than the drive. If they are having trouble seeing it, ask them for every one rotation of the drive gear, how many times does the driven gear rotate? Explain torque vs. speed. ie. tugboats – high torque, low speed. Handheld fans- high speed, low torque. Introduce the concept of optimization. Introduce the activity Activity – 40 minutes Clean up/ Wrap up – 10 minutes What was easiest? What was hardest?  What would you have done differently?  What were some good ideas you saw that other groups came up with? Have the students try a different course with different dimensions and slopes. http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/e.jpg http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/f.jpg

## Wall Follower

Name of Activity Wall Follower Jay Clark NXTs, car, wall, distance, loops, conditional loops, sensor, threshold NXTs 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+ 1 Hour Total Students will program their NXT cars to follow the outer edge of the classroom by driving along the wall at a set distance away. Programming using loops and conditional loops Determining and Implementing sensor thresholds Prebuilt NXT car with a sound sensor Clear wall space Computers with NXT Mindstorms software Find a section of the room that has the most dynamic wall. -Maybe the wall juts out for a closet and back in again afterwards- Clear this space for cars to run next to. For any inside turns (turning to the right if the wall is on your left), place a strip of black tape a foot or so away from the wall for the extensions. A wall follower activity is very similar to the line follower programmatically. Start close to the wall. Turn away from the wall until the distance sensor reads that you are too far, then drive back towards the wall until the distance sensor reads that you are too close. Loop. There is a challenge in trying to get the car to make an outside turn. This involves playing with the distance away from the wall you set your car to follow, and how dramatically you have the car steer. Inside turns cannot be made using the loop. Some other sensor must tell the car that an inside turn is approaching, and then the car must react by turning. Students may use a touch sensor, a light sensor, a sound sensor, or even another distance sensor (if they have one) Vocabulary: Threshold – The sensor value that when breached, will trigger a wait for block or a conditional loop. (Some students have had a better time understanding it as a “benchmark”) Introduction – 10 minutes Introduce/ Review loops with the students and why they are useful in programs. Loops allow us to repeat a set of commands that would otherwise be tedious to program over and over. Introduce the activity, and ask the students if they have an idea of what the program should look like. Activity – 40 minutes Allow students to make the mistake of not including any turns in their program. They will understand their mistake when trying to make the first outside turn. Clean up/ Wrap up – 10 minutes What was easiest? What was hardest?  What would you have done differently?  What were some good ideas you saw that other groups came up with? In order to make inside turns, students will have to use a conditional loop and another sensor to warn them of the upcoming turn. http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/c1.jpg http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/d.png

## Tug-O-War

Name of Activity Tug-O-War Kara Miranda gear, gear ratios, build, machine, tug-o-war, competition, prototype, Engineering Design Process, torque NXTs 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+ 3 Hours Total Students will use their knowledge about gears and gear ratios to build a machine that will play tug-o-war against another classmate’s. To apply building techniques and knowledge about gears to an activity challenge. RCX or NXT LEGO kits Assortment of extra LEGO pieces, especially gears and beams Engineer’s Planning Sheet String Scissors Tape Collect necessary materials Photocopy worksheets Arrange students into groups of 2 Decide how you will distribute extra pieces Write design requirements on the board Review gears, gear ratios, and torque. Vocabulary: Prototype Engineering Design Process Gears Gear ratio Torque Tell students that in this challenge they will be playing tug-o-war by building a machine that can provide enough torque to pull on another machine doing the same thing. String will be tied between the two, and a machine will have to pull the other over a line of tape in order to win. Make sure to review how gears work, gear ratios, and using gears for torque vs. speed. Also explain the engineering design process. Tell students the requirements for their tug-o-war contenders. Examples of requirements are:       Must use gears       Must have a sensor Allow the class to brainstorm different ideas for their machines. Have them plan out and draw their design on the engineering planning sheet. Distribute materials and have students start building. You may have to assist students with tying string to their machine. After the students finish building, pair up machines and tie them to either end of a string, making sure the middle of the string is right above the tape on the ground, and that both machines are equidistant from the tape. Have the students start their machines. Whoever’s machine gets pulled over the line first, loses. After the students finish, review the activity with the class. Have them share their ideas, ask groups to explain what the hardest part of the challenge was, etc. Have students add more gears Make a classwide tug-o-war competition. Whose is the “strongest”? Allow those who lose to redesign and compete against each other again http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/a.pdf

## Catapult

Name of Activity Catapult Kara Miranda design, challenge, build catapult, launch, LEGO, not classroom tested, k-3, 4-6, 7-9, prototype, Engineering Design Process, lever, fulcrum, force, load Simple Machines, LEGO Building K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+ 2 Hours Total An design challenge in which students will design and build a catapult and see which design will launch an object the furthest. This activity can use either Lego or non-Lego pieces. *This activity is not classroom tested.* To apply building techniques and knowledge about levers to an activity challenge. Simple Machine or RCX kits Example photos of catapults Assortment of extra LEGO pieces, especially beams Engineer’s Planning Sheet Plastic spoons Rubber bands Tongue depressors Glue Tape Ruler (yardstick or tape measure) Collect necessary materials Photocopy worksheets Arrange students into groups of 2 Decide how you will distribute extra pieces and other materials Write design requirements on the board Find a section of the floor at least 15 feet long and put tape down on one side. Students will place their finished catapults on this line and launch the object from there, and the teacher can measure how far it has gone. Review three different classes of levers. Vocabulary: Prototype Engineering Design Process Catapult Lever (first, second, and third class) Fulcrum Force Load Tell students that in this challenge they will be making a catapult. Explain to them what a catapult is, making sure to go into levers and its three different classes. A catapult can mean any machine that hurls a projectile. Students can use either Legos or non-Lego materials to create their catapult. Show students different pictures and/or videos of catapults, explaining what they do and how they work. Explain the engineering design process. Tell them the requirements for their catapults. Examples of requirements are:       Must be six inches tall       Must launch a ball at least 6 feet Allow the class to brainstorm different ideas for their catapult design. Have them plan out and draw their design on the engineering planning sheet. Distribute materials and have students start building. After students finish building their catapults, have them place their catapult on the line and launch an object (preferably something that will not roll, perhaps a Lego piece). Measure how far the catapult launched the object. After the students finish, review the activity with the class. Have them share their ideas, ask groups to explain what the hardest part of the challenge was, etc. Have students redesign their catapult to make it launch objects even further. Have a class-wide competition to see whose catapult launches the furthest. http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/111_image_1.jpg http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/111_image_2.jpg http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Building_Design_Sheet3.pdf

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