Name of Unit Fun with NXTs – Basics of Building and Programming – Crooks and Fletcher
Author(s) Whitney Crooks and Liz Fletcher
School Robert Healy Elementary School
Teacher Ms. Cannatella
Brief Description The students will do short, fun activities with NXTs to learn the basics of building and programming. As a final project, students will demonstrate new skills by making a game.
Grade(s) 3, 4, 5
Keywords NXT, Programming, Game, Cars
Number of Weeks 10
Week 1 Challenge Day! These students have previous experience with NXTs. To get an idea of where the student’s skill level is, we give them levels of challenges to advance through. Levels test their ability to build a car, program on the brick, and program using Lego Mindstorm.
Week 2 Build cars using building instructions to demonstrate efficient ways to attach motors and make a car. The focus of the lesson will be to add light sensors to their cars and program their car to respond to low light levels when the car moves over dark tiles.
Week 3 Students program their pre-built cars to be “remote controlled” by two touch sensors attached to the NXT. Programming concepts include loops and switches. A maze served as a challenge for the teams to maneuver their cars through.
Week 4 Red Light, Green Light. Students will review how to program for the light sensor for the Red Light, Green Light activity. Cars move while the lights are on, and stay stationary while the lights are off. Printed out pictures of the Mindstorm program commands such as loops, switches, and motor commands allowed students to put the program together with their hands before going to the computer.
Week 5 Lava Line Follower (Line Follower). Students tested the light sensor threshold to program light sensor switch. Explanation of switches in programming was given.
Week 6 Continue Lava Line Follower. An example car that successfully completed the challenge was brought in, in order to re-interest the students in the activity. The groups continued working on their programs, and some succeeded in the challenge.
Week 7  NXT Musical Instrument. The use of double switches allows for 4 tones to be played by the NXT using 2 touch sensors. This is a difficult concept for children of this age. They really enjoy making sounds with the NXT.
Week 8 Start of Final Project to build your own game. This week will include brainstorming, getting approval on ideas, and beginning to build games.
Week 9 The second week of the final project will be for finishing the building of the game and to begin the programming of each group’s games.
Week 10 For the final week, student will finish programming, present their projects, and have time to play with other groups’ games.

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