Materials Testing

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Materials Testing
Author Alana Lustenberger
Keywords materials, properties, building, sturdy, 4th grade, columbus, dipersio
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description This activity involves having students explore the properties of different materials so that they are familiar with them when they choose their materials for a future project.
Lesson Objectives: This activity can be used to prime the class for a long design project where the students will be responsible for selecting the materials they would like to use. It teaches them about the different properties of materials and helps them to understand that different materials are wanted/needed for different applications
Materials Needed: The materials we used were foam, paperclips, cotton balls, rubber bands, straws, and a worksheet.
Preparation and Set Up: You can distribute the materials beforehand into separate bags, or just gather them from the center. Also make copies of the worksheet.
Procedure 1. Explain that all materials have different properties and that in this activity, the students will be exploring these. Make sure to mention that they will have to use what they learn today to pick the materials they will be using for future activities. 2. Pass out worksheets (or show it on the projector). Explain how each test is done and also talk about the ranking system. We did if the material stretches the most, give it a 6. If it stretches the least, give it a 1, and then order the rest corresponding to how stretchy they are within the 1 through 6 range. 3. Put the students in groups and pass out the materials. Make sure you stress teamwork and that both partners should be writing and doing the tests. 4. Bring the class together at the end and have students tell which materials were the stretchiest, heaviest, ect.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Materials-testing-worksheet-2014.docx
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) This was used for the service learning curriculum

Basic Programming

ACTIVITY HEADER

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)

Procedure
  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

Same End, Two Ways of Getting There

ACTIVITY HEADER

Name of Activity Same End, Two Ways of Getting There.
Author Matt’s mini group
Keywords NXT, Ultrasonic sensor, light sensor, understanding how they work
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Understanding how sensors really work and use different sensors to accomplish the same goal.
Lesson Objectives: To understand how the ultrasonic sensor works. Use two sensors to accomplish same goal.
Materials Needed: Already built NXT car, bouncy ball to demonstrate ultrasonic sensor, flashlight maybe to demonstrate how the light sensor senses both reflected and ambient light and the difference between the two.
Preparation and Set Up: Already built car and a thorough understanding of how the sensors truly work.
Necessary Background Understand how the sensors are able to accurately sense whatever it is they sense.
Procedure In order to understand how untrasonic sensors work, children can throw a bouncy ball against a wall from different distances and see how it takes longer to come back to them when they are farther and less time when they are closer.  In order to understand how the light sensor works, they should pull up the real time reading of the light sensor on the brick and hold it up to different lightings and see how the reading changes and test how it is different when sensing reflection as opposed to ambient light and use these readings to set the threshold to put in the program.  A flashlight can also be held up to a piece of paper at different distances and see how the intensity changes.  The challenge will then be to have a car go back and forth between two walls using the ultrasonic sensor on one side and the light sensor on the other side.
Extensions: Use a different sensor as well to accomplish the same goal if a group is far ahead.
Previous Activity (if applicable) Basic programming knowledge and basic sensor usage.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) NXT

Detective- Solving the Mystery

ACTIVITY HEADER

Name of Activity Detective- Solving the Mystery
Author Kirsten Jorgensen and Hannah Garfield
Keywords detective, engineers, solve, mystery
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Solving the mystery (~30 minutes)Did this is the second half of the 2nd mechanical engineering project day
Lesson Objectives: determine who committed the crimeoverview of the different types of engineering
Materials Needed: posters with mug shots and descriptions of suspects
Preparation and Set Up: make posters of suspects with mug shots and descriptionsExample: Bill Ding; Hometown: Burlington, VT; Age: 25; Occupation: Structural Engineer with concentration in buildings;
Procedure Use whatever time needed to finish and present rube goldberg devices present posters and talk about what skills each suspect has that could be helpful for them to commit this crime and what experience do each of them not have. Discuss and blind vote on which of the 4 different suspects (mech, envior, civil, electrical) they think did it THEY ALL DID IT–engineers work together to accomplish goals and most projects require people from different disciplines with different experience to complete them Talk about final project at the end of class.
Previous Activity (if applicable) Detective: Mechanical Engineering
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering

Detective- Mechanical Engineering

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

Name of Activity Detective-Mechanical Engineering
Author Kirsten Jorgensen and Hannah Garflied
Keywords rube goldberg, mechanical, simple machines, gears, inclined planes, pulley, lever, wedgem screw
Subject Simple Machines
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total, 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Lesson 3 of Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering unit – mechanical engineering.
Lesson Objectives: -understand what mechanical engineers do and design-become familiar with the different types of simple machines

-create a rube goldberg device

Materials Needed: LEGO Simple Machines KitExtra Lego Pieces

a few NXT touch sensors

Preparation and Set Up: Arrange students in pairs with 1 simple machine kit per group
Procedure Continuation on the “Detective” Story line that we are following in this unit. Give the next part of the crime. We sent some of the shrapnel  they filtered from the last week and determined that the bomb that exploded in the museum of science was a bomb that was triggered by a button next to the bomb. There were no finger prints on the trigger. Discuss how this is possible? eventually get to Rube goldberb device because they wouldn’t be blown up if they were a distance away and triggered the bomb. What kind of engineer could build this? First we have an open discussion on mechanical engineers-what they do and why this field is different from other types of engineering–moving parts, robotics etc. What is a rube goldberg device? How do they work. Open discussion about what a simple machine is, why we use them, why they’re helpful, what the different kinds are and what their specific uses are (write on board for reference later). Project: Create a rube goldberg device with 2 different simple machines that can trigger a button (NXT touch sensor) from across the desk — has to be far enough away so they don’t blow up Give students 10-15 minutes to develop an idea and have a plan before they start. Hand out simple machines kits  after it is confirmed that they have a relatively good idea of what they are going to build and assist students as needed (how to work a gear box and how to make the certain simple machines because a lot of them have never seen how gears work) Ended up using a second week for this project so they could finish. Had pairs present their projects to the class. Had them talk about their idea and which simple machines they used.
Extensions: If they finish early, try to have them implement a 3rd simple machine. (only 1 group finished early)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Detective Engineer: Intro to Different Types of Engineering

Act Out Electricity!

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Act Out Electricity!
Author Emily Taintor
Keywords electricity, interactive, act out, non-lego, 4-6, introduction to electricity, resistor, lamp, bulb, wire, battery, switch, 1 Hour Total
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students are assigned to be a circuit element and act it out in a complete circuit.
Lesson Objectives: - Solidify the students’ understanding of electricity.
- Give the students a physical understanding of what different circuit elements do.
Materials Needed: - Attached materials.
Preparation and Set Up: - Split the students into small groups.
- Give each group a set of materials.
- Give each group a goal for their circuit so that they can set it up and act it out to show the rest of the class.
Necessary Background - Electricity terms:
– Resistor
– Battery
– Switch
– Lamp (Light Bulb)
– Motor
Procedure
  1. Split the students up into groups.
  2. Assign each group a specific goal for a circuit.
  3. Let the students take time to plan out how they will act it out with the given resources.
  4. Have the students act out their circuit for the rest of the class.
Extensions: Add in more complex circuit elements, programming, or use of breadboards.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Materials.pdf
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Introduction to Electricity

Freeze Dance

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Freeze Dance
Author Jay Clark
Keywords program, NXT, robot, dance, conditional, loop, conditional loop, sound sensor
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students program their NXT robots to dance! But wait! Using conditional loop structures, they must program their robot to stop dancing when the music stops, and start again when the music is turned back on.
Lesson Objectives: Learning about the conditional loop
Building for non-car NXT movement
Determining and implementing sensor thresholds
Materials Needed: NXT kit including a sound sensor
A source and means of amplifying music
Computers with NXT Mindstorms software
Preparation and Set Up: Clear a space in the classroom to serve as the dance floor, and mark it off with black tape (for the extensions). Set up your music system and find a volume that will register a readable sound level in the NXT.
Necessary Background A loop is a helpful programming structure that allows you to repeat a set of commands. But sometimes, you don’t want to loop forever. A conditional loop will repeat the enclosed actions until some other criterion is met. A loop can be set to run for a certain amount of cycles of the loop, for a certain amount of time, until a logic condition is met, or until a sensor threshold is broken. This activity uses the last criterion in conjunction with the sound sensor to stop the robot from dancing.

Freeze dance is a game the children play in which they must dance when the music is on, but freeze when the music is turned off. If they don’t stop, or cannot hold the position they were in when the music stopped, they are eliminated.

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”)

Procedure Introduction 10 minutes 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.

Sometimes loops should go on forever. Ask the students for examples they’ve done where loops go on forever. (Simple tasks like line following, wall following). In more sophisticated programs, they should not. Ask if they can think of a situation in which you don’t want a program to go on forever. A conditional loop is a great way to end a loop exactly when you want it to end and move on to another task. Our brains use conditional loops all the time!

  •  When crossing the street, we look both ways. If its not safe, we do it again. We keep doing it until its safe, and then we cross the street.

Remind the kids or introduce them to freeze dance, and introduce the Activity. Activity 40 minutes Students should construct robots for about 15 minutes and program for at least 25 minutes. After 40 minutes is done. Put all the robots on the dance floor and start and stop the music. Clean up 5 minutes Wrap up 5 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?
Extensions: Don’t bore us with those same old dance moves! Have the students’ robot switch up the dance moves after each pause.Programmatically, this involves an additional stop and a wait for sound block plus an additional looped dance sequence.

Allow students who finish quickly to explore the dance floor! have their robots move and groove while moving about the dance floor. Using their light sensor, they should detect that they’re about to leave the floor, and they should dance in a different direction. Programmatically, this would involve placing the dancing section of code in a switch or another conditional loop.

Don’t bump into other dancers! Using an ultrasonic distance sensor, detect fellow dancers and steer clear! Programmatically, this would involve placing the dancing section of code in a switch or another loop condition.

Modifications: Much of the programming could also be done with switches. Push for conditional loops if you want that to be the focus of the lesson.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/b3.png
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/c.jpg

Catapult

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Catapult
Author Kara Miranda
Keywords design, challenge, build catapult, launch, LEGO, not classroom tested, k-3, 4-6, 7-9, prototype, Engineering Design Process, lever, fulcrum, force, load
Subject Simple Machines, LEGO Building
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description 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.*
Lesson Objectives: To apply building techniques and knowledge about levers to an activity challenge.
Materials Needed: 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)
Preparation and Set Up: 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.

Necessary Background Review three different classes of levers.

Vocabulary:
Prototype
Engineering Design Process

Catapult
Lever (first, second, and third class)
Fulcrum
Force
Load

Procedure
    • 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.
Extensions: Have students redesign their catapult to make it launch objects even further.
Have a class-wide competition to see whose catapult launches the furthest.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/111_image_1.jpg
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/111_image_2.jpg
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Building_Design_Sheet3.pdf

Spin Art

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Spin Art
Author Kara Miranda
Keywords open-ended, design, challenge, design, build, spin, create, art, markers, crayons, paint, art supplies, not classroom tested, NXT, toys, prototype, Engineering Design Process, Gears, gear ratios, 4-6, 7-9, 2 Hours Total
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description An open-ended design challenge in which students will design and build an object that will spin in some manner to create art with markers, crayons, paint, or other art supplies. *This activity is not classroom tested.*
Lesson Objectives: To apply building techniques and knowledge about gears to an activity challenge.
Materials Needed: RCX or NXT LEGO kits
Example photos of toys that create spin art
Assortment of extra LEGO pieces, especially gears and beams
Engineer’s Planning Sheet
Markers, crayons, paint, or other art supplies
Tape (to tape markers, crayons etc. to LEGO pieces)
Large sheets of paper to draw on
Preparation and Set Up: Collect necessary materials
Tape down large sheets of paper to floor if necessary
Photocopy worksheets
Arrange students into groups of 3
Decide how you will distribute extra pieces and drawing utensils
Write design requirements on the board
Necessary Background Review gears and gear ratios

Vocabulary:
Prototype
Engineering Design Process
Gears
Gear ratio

Procedure
  • Tell students that in this challenge they will be making spin art. Explain to them what spin art is and the different ways they can go about making it. Spin art is created by any medium spinning in some manner, whether it is the marker drawing in circles, paint being spun, or paper being rotated, etc. Students may attach these things to a car that they program, or a stationary object, or whatever they choose; this activity is very open ended for students design-wise.
  • Show students different pictures and/or videos of spin art toys, explaining what they do and how they work. Also, it may be a good idea to review how gears work. Explain the engineering design process, emphasizing the prototype and the redesign.
  • Tell them the requirements for their spin art makers. Examples of requirements are:
  •       Must have at least three gears
  •       Can be manual or electric
  •       Must use two different mediums (i.e. markers and paint, paint and crayons, etc)
  • Allow the class to brainstorm different ideas for their spin art design. 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 taping markers to their project.
  • 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.
Extensions: Have students add more gears
Have students add more drawing utensils (more markers, etc)
Have students put their drawing utensils on different axes (i.e. one paintbrush horizontal and one marker vertical)
Have students add a sensor that causes something on their spin art maker to perform some act (i.e. when the light sensor senses white, the blue marker starts spinning)
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/a.jpg
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/b.jpg
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/c1.pdf

Hand Mixer

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Hand Mixer
Author Kara Miranda
Keywords hand mixer, gears, gear ratios, not classroom tested, prototype, Engineering Design Process, 4-6, 7-9, 2 Hours Total
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will design and build a hand mixer, learning how to use different gears in a variety of ways. *NOTE: not classroom tested.
Lesson Objectives: To apply building techniques and knowledge about gears to an activity challenge.
Materials Needed: RCX or NXT LEGO kits
Photos of different hand mixer designs
Assortment of extra LEGO pieces, especially gears and beams
Building Design Sheet
Preparation and Set Up: Collect necessary materials
Photocopy worksheets
Arrange students into groups of 3
Decide how you will distribute extra pieces
Write design requirements on the board
Necessary Background Review Gears and Gear Ratios

Vocabulary:
Prototype
Engineering Design Process
Gears
Gear Ratios

Procedure
  • Tell students that in this challenge they will be building a hand mixer.
  • Show students different pictures and/or videos of hand mixers, explaining what they do and how they work. Also, it may be a good idea to review how gears work. Explain the engineering design process, emphasizing prototype and redesign.
  • Tell them the requirements for their hand mixers. For example:
  •      Must have at least three gears
  •      Can be a manual or electric hand mixer
  • Allow the class to brainstorm different ideas for their mixer design. Have them plan out and draw their design on the Building Design Sheet.
  • Distribute materials and have students start building.
  • 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.
Extensions: Have students add more gears.
Have students make the bottom of their hand mixer spin faster or slower by adjusting the gear ratio.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/109_image_1.jpg
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/109_image_2.jpg
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Building-Design-Sheet.pdf

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