Touch Sensor Challenges

The robot…

1. waits until touched, then moves forwards for 5 seconds.

2. waits until touched, then moves backwards for 5 seconds.

3. waits until touched then goes forwards for 1 s and backwards for 1 s.

4. waits until touched then goes forwards for 1 s and backwards for 1s every time you touch it. (have them put the whole thing in a loop!)

5. waits until touched then goes forwards for 1s and backwards for 1 s over and over (put just the movement bricks in a loop)

6. moves forward until it is touched, then it stops.

7. moves forward until touched, then stops, then starts again when touched, over and over. (like an on/off switch)

8. moves forward until touched, then wiggles/slithers forward, then stops when touched again


Basic Programming


Name of Activity Basic Programming
Author Ali Boreiko
Keywords touch sensor, ultrasonic sensor, sound sensor, light sensor, simple programming, introduction to NXT, introduction to Mindstorms, introduction to programming
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students complete a simple series of programming challenges to familiarize themselves with Mindstorms programming.
Lesson Objectives: For students to become more competent programmers
Materials Needed: computers with Mindstorms, whiteboard/chalkboard, a list of simple challenges OPTIONAL: pre-built cars
Preparation and Set Up: 1. Decide what functions of the NXT will be most useful for your class. Do you want them to know how do use a particular sensor? How to steer the robot? How to make the NXT make noises? Then, create a list of ~8 challenges that target these areas of Mindstorm programming (see our example under “References”). Create the challenges so that harder challenges only require the students to change 1 or 2 parts of their program. That way they will see the direct connection between the change they made and the robot’s actions. They will also feel accomplished if they are able to complete more challenges.

2. You may have the students pre-build a car, but the activity can also be done by programming other things (e.g. an NXT arm)

  1. Ask each group to put the necessary sensor/equipment onto their robot.
  2. As a class, program the first challenge. As kids complete the challenge, have them come up to the board and demonstrate the challenge to either STOMPer. Once the students have accomplished and demonstrated the challenge, write their name on the board next to the challenge.
  3. Once kids have finished the first challenge, they may go on to harder challenges–but they must complete them in order!
  4. As kids complete the challenges, check off the challenges under their names. This way, you recognize kids who stay focused on the tasks.
Extensions: This activity can be adapted for various skill levels by simply making the challenges more difficult or adding more difficult ones at the end of the list
Previous Activity (if applicable) Introductory building
References Our list of touch sensor challenges
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Introduciton to Mindstorms, Introduction to NXT Robotics

Intro to Computer Science with SCRATCH

Activity Name: Intro to Scratch – Get Scratch around the box
How long did it take? 2 1 hour class periods
Materials: *Scratch program, developed by MIT, open source

Vocabulary to know about for this activity:

Background/Things to know about for this activity:
degrees, clockwise/counterclockwise, block programming, conditionals, x and y coordinates

Preparation (what should one do to prepare)::
Familiarize yourself with the scratch program. Ensure that the class has an idea about the specificity/step-by-step nature of programming.

Procedure (how to go about the activity):
Have students use their keyboard to program Scratch to touch each corner of the display. Can also have kids program objects in the 4 corners of the display box and have them program conditionals to react to Scratch. (Ex. when Scratch is touching an object, the object “says” something)

Kenny and Danish Semester Outline

September 26: Talk about animal adaptations and use the NXT kit legos to build a model of a chosen land animal.

October 3: Intro to the NXT brick with a video for “inspiration” then make a spinning fan.

October 10: Talk about animal senses and introduce NXT sensors through a simple mechanical/sensing project.

October 17: Build an NXT car and start programming it if there is time.

October 24: Program last week’s car to complete various tasks that we will assign (turn in a circle, go forward and back, etc.).

October 31: A sensor project with the cars, such as sumo wrestling or escaping a taped box.

November 7: Silly walk robots.

November 14: Build land animals incorporating the NXT brick.

November 21 and December 5: Program the animals to perform a series of challenges (e.g. get food in a specific location).

Mariana & Alyssa Semester Outline


(journal for observations? or posters for drawing?)

-giving time to play with materials before activity starts (exploration)

-defend observations to each other

-can we make the time shorter?

-breaks in the middle to talk about things as a class

- ask who will leave so they can be paired together, or just partnering generally (email)

-check in with teacher during exploration time?

-carrot-and-stick thing for balloons etc


September 23- Introduction and spaghetti towers activity

September 30- failure analysis (of structures that we have pre-built), straw structures- towers, bridges, strength, etc., building animals out of straws

October 7- lego vehicles, ramp (no motors), play around with ramp size/slope and wheel size  etc, maybe with balloons/rubber bands for propulsion

October 21- introduce motors an gears, maybe an activity with vehicles and speed, maybe something new

October 28- dinosaur tail activity (using simple machines and pulleys for something other than wheels)

November 4- design and construction of an imaginary animal based on qualities picked from a hat

November 11- obstacle course with robot animals, trial run 1

November 18- redesign of robot animals

November 25- redesign of robot animals

December 2- obstacle course run 2

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