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

Communication Towers

ACTIVITY HEADER

Name of Activity Communication Towers
Author Ali Boreiko + Jen Scinto
Keywords communication, non-NXT, building, teamwork, social skills
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time <1 Hour Total
Brief Description In this activity, students will better understand the importance of communication for engineers. By completing an engineering challenge silently in groups , they will gain an appreciation for verbal communication.
Lesson Objectives: The objective of this activity is to have students reflect on how they communicate to their classmates and to the teachers. 
Materials Needed: -Found materials (paper, bottles, straws, clothespins, etc)

-An arm’s length of tape

-A separate room/space where half of the students can work (e.g. a hallway or empty classroom nearby).

Procedure Warm up the class by discussing: What is communication? How do humans communicate? Animals? Robots? Who do engineering need to communicate with when they’re working on a project? Who do you communicate with when you’re working on a project? (5-10 mins)

Then, divide the class up into teams of 6-10 people, let them choose their team name. The teams are competing to build the tallest tower. But, the team must build the top and bottom half separately. So, divide the teams up again into two groups, the top and the bottom (each with 3-6 people).

Tell them that the two groups working on the bottom cannot talk, but are allowed to write and draw. The team working on the top is not allowed to write or draw, but is allowed to talk. Let the kids work for ~10 minutes on their part of the tower. They should NOT be able to see the other half of the tower.

Then, each of the two groups (top and bottom) sends a representative to discuss their ideas with the other half of their team to plan how the tower will fit together. They cannot bring any pieces from the tower, just their ideas. Each representative keeps his or her handicap. After they meet for 5 minutes, the representatives return to their groups and continue to build. 

After ~10 more minutes of building, the groups unite and get 5 minutes to connect their tower, all the while with their handicaps. Finally, once each team has a tower, measure them! 

Debrief by asking: What was hard about the activity? Why is communication so important for engineers? (5-10 mins)

Frankenstein’s Robot

ACTIVITY HEADER

Name of Activity Frankenstein’s Robot
Author Charlie and Laura +Devyn and Alli’s Minigroup
Keywords Frankenscience, Introduction to NXT, sensors, instructions
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Time 4+ Hours Total
Brief Description Providing students “Frank” the NXT brick, and walking them through the process of making Frank functional. This activity is an intro to NXT, so instructions are there to guide students as they become comfortable with new parts. Parts should be entirely interchangeable between robots.
Lesson Objectives: Personification of sensors
Confidence in using individual sensors and motors
Ability to combine a number of simple parts to create a more complex system
Materials Needed: NXT kits
Procedure Frank the robot is broken down into several steps of building and programming. The goal is for the kids to build a fully functional robot with advanced behavior without the children feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of the project.

Frank is introduced to the children as just an NXT brick. we comment on how Frank wants to be more mobile and introduce the deigns for the legs of frank the robot

Building Instructions [Frank the robot[moters+frame]]

distribute the PDF of the instructions to the kids, and the instructions should be intuitive enough for the kids to follow along. an NXT mindstorms program should also be developed that the kids can follow along as it’s programmed ( highly recommended to code and debug before giving to the kids)

once the kids have built frank up to the point of the instructions finish at, then the kids should bring out the laptops and start programming the motors. these small steps will show the kids that programming and building are not actually two separate tasks, but opposite sides of the same coin. this also allows for multiple iterations of the engineering design process.

once the kids have finished with the motors and basic frame then the other PDF’s should be distributed.

 

 

Things That Go Bump

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Things That Go Bump
Author STOMP
Keywords design, construct, NXT, car, bump, wall, damage, touch sensors
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description In this activity, students will design and construct an NXT car that will stop when it
bumps into a wall to prevent damage to the car.
Lesson Objectives: - To learn to program with touch sensors.
- To create a safety device for an NXT car.
Materials Needed: - NXT Car.
- Assortment of LEGO pieces.
- Computer running NXT software.
Preparation and Set Up:
Set up computers running NXT software.

Arrange students in groups of two.
Distribute necessary material to students.

Necessary Background Vocabulary:
Prototype
Procedure
  1. Have students draw out the design for the bumper that they will attach to the front of their car
  2. Have students build an NXT car.
  3. Have students attach a bumper to their car attached to the touch sensor so that the car can respond when it drives into a wall.
  4. Wire the motors to the outputs and the sensors to the inputs of the NXT.
  5. Program the NXT vehicle:
    1. If using NXT MINDSTORMS software, program the car to stop when it hits a wall.
    2. Once students have program their car to stop when the touch sensor is pressed, have students program their car to back up and turn after the car hits a wall, before driving forward again. This program requires a loop.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/69_image_3.jpg
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/69_image_3.png
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Bumper_car.doc

Tow Truck

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Tow Truck
Author STOMP
Keywords steep, ramp, tow, towing, weight, gears, gear up, gear down, building, design, friction, gravity, center of gravity
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Build a car that can climb a steep ramp while towing a weight (10 batteries) behind it.
Using gears to gear down is necessary for this challenge. This activity is more challenging
than a regular ramp climb and may require some complex building and design.
Lesson Objectives: - To learn to build and use gears.
- To learn about gravity, center of gravity, and friction.
Materials Needed: NXT kits
ramp
batteries for weight
string
computers running NXT Software
Preparation and Set Up: Build a ramp.

Set up computers running NXT software.

Arrange student in groups of two.
Distribute necessary materials.

Necessary Background It is more difficult for cars to climb steep slopes for different reasons. In this lesson you
can discuss with the class these different forces that affect the ability of the car to
climb the slope:

Friction – friction is the force acting between the surfaces of the car (tires) and
the ramp surface. This is the force that keeps the car from slipping.
Gravity – gravity pulls down directly towards the center of the earth. On a flat
surface gravity does not pull a car in any direction, but just keeps it in place. On
a slope, gravity pulls a car backwards towards the center of the earth down the ramp.
Center of gravity – Center of gravity is the exact spot on an object where there
is the same amount of weight on one side of the spot as there is on the opposite
side. A high center of gravity means a car is more unstable on a steep slope.
A low center of gravity close to a ramp will help the car stay on the ramp.To
overcome these forces there are several things that you can do to your car:
Low center of gravity – design the car to be low to the ground.
Gear down the car – By adding gears to the motors and then gearing to the
wheel you can increase the power of the motors, which will help the car climb
the ramp. There is more information about gears and gear worksheets in the
attached documents.

Vocabulary:
Gears
Gear Ratios
Gravity
Center of Gravity
Mass
Friction
Forces

Procedure
  1. Have students design and build a car that will climb a ramp.
    1. Students will need to think about friction and center of gravity to build their car. If students are unfamiliar with these concepts, you should review the concepts with them. A car that is lower to the ground will be less likely to slip. Wheels that have more traction and greater surface area on the ramp will also be less likely to slip.
    2. Students will need to use gears to gain more power. If students are unfamiliar with using gears, you should review gears and gearing down with the students.
  2. Have students program their cars to move forward for 20 seconds.
  3. Allow students to test their cars on the ramp without anything in tow.
  4. Students should redesign the car if it does not climb the ramp.
  5. Students should then test their cars while towing the weight up the ramp and redesign until the car can tow the weight.
  6. If students have trouble tell them to try various gears, wheels and designs.
Extensions: What is the steepest ramp that the car can climb?
What is the heaviest weight that the car can tow?
Calculate the gear ratio.
What is the quickest that the car can travel up the ramp?
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/68_image_1.png
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/68_image_2.png
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Engineering-and-Science-Skills1.doc
Reference 4 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Engineering_Design_Process3.doc
Reference 5 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Gear_Ratio_Worksheet1.pdf
Reference 6 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Gears_Worksheet1.pdf
Reference 7 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Tow_truck.doc

Say “Hello”

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Say “Hello”
Author STOMP
Keywords NXT, communicate, message, programming, MINDSTORMS
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will program their NXT to communicate a message.
Lesson Objectives: To learn about how to communicate a message using MINDSTORMS NXT software.
Materials Needed: - One NXT brick per student pair.
- Computer running MINDSTORMS NXT software.
Preparation and Set Up: - Set up computers running MINDSTORMS NXT software.
- Arrange students in pairs.
- Distribute NXT bricks.
Procedure
  1. Program the NXT to display text on the screen and say hello when a touch sensor is pressed.
    1. Program the NXT to wait for the touch sensor
    2. After the touch sensor has been pressed students will program their computer to convey a message using sound and the NXT display.
    3. When the program is over clear the display.
    4. Loop the program so that the message can be displayed every time the touch sensor is pressed.
  2. Have studnets test and redesign their program. Students can change the message if they desire.
Extensions: - Add a graphic to the display.
- Build a flag or arm to wave to add to your greeting.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/67_image_2.png
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/67_image_3.png
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/say_hello.doc

Snail Car

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Snail Car
Author STOMP
Keywords NXT, car, travel, slow, snail race, last, finish line, winner, motion, gears
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description In this activity, students will construct an NXT car which is capable to traveling extremely slowly. The cars will compete in a snail race with the last car to cross the finish line crowned as the winner.
Lesson Objectives: To learn to build with cars for slow motion.
Materials Needed: - NXT Car
- Gears
- Computers running NXT software
Preparation and Set Up: Set up computers running NXT software.
Arrange students into groups of two.
Distribute materials to students.
Procedure
  1. Have students build an NXT car that utilizes a series of gears and axles.
  2. Have students program their cars to travel forward for 20 seconds.
  3. Set up a race course and let students race their cars against each other.
  4. If there is time, allow students to redesign their cars.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Engineering-and-Science-Skills.doc
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Snail-Car.pdf

Ohm’s Law and Series Circuits

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Ohm’s Law and Series Circuits
Author STOMP
Keywords circuit, electricity, Ohm’s Law, voltage, resistance, current
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will build a simple circuit using previous knowledge about electricity. They will use Ohm’s Law to analyze the circuit.
Lesson Objectives: - To introduce electricity, circuits, and electrical engineering.
- To apply Ohm’s law to real circuits.
Materials Needed: - 24 Gauge AWG wire, cut to 8 inch lengths w/stripped ends. Give each student group 5 – 6 8 inch pieces.
- 9V battery with connector plate.
- 2 1-Watt light bulbs with lamp bases.
- 2 Toggle switches.
- Alligator clip.
Preparation and Set Up: - Make a copy of the worksheet for each student.
- Prepare a demo circuit.

- Arrange students in groups of 2 – 3.

- Distribute materials.

Necessary Background Ohm’s Law describes the relationship between the voltage, current, and resistance of a circuit. This relationship is given in the relationship Voltage = Current x Resistance. Knowing this relationship, it is possible to find any of the three values as long as the other two are known.

Vocabulary:
Ohm’s Law
Voltage
Resistance
Current

Procedure
  1. Go though slides 6 – 8 of the attached Powerpoint
  2. Go over your demo circuit and calculate the current using Ohm’s law Current (amps) = Voltage/Resistance
    1. Voltage can be found on the side of a battery (9V for this activity).
    2. Resistance is about 81 ohms for each light bulb.
  3. Distribute the worksheets and materials and assist the students in creating the circuits and calculating the current using Ohm’s law.
Extensions or Modifications: Design on paper a circuit of your choice, using whatever size battery and resistors you want. Calculate the Voltage, Resistance and Current in your circuit. Your teacher will show you a circuit that she or she has built. Draw a circuit diagram representing it.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/o1.png
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/o2.pdf
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/o3.pdf
Reference 4 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/o4.pdf
Reference 5 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/o5.pdf

Prosthetic Leg

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

 

Name of Activity Prosthetic Leg
Author STOMP
Keywords prosthetic, knee, bend, range of motion
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will construct a prosthetic leg for a amputee figure. The leg should have a socket that allows it to be put on and taken off with ease. The knee should bend; Students may also try to make its ankle roll for full range of motion.
Lesson Objectives: - To apply engineering to real world situations.
- To learn about biomedical engineering.
Materials Needed: - 8.5″ tall Hardwood Mannequin.
- Crayola Model Magic.
- Krazy Glue.
- 2 Ring Terminals.
- Nut.
- Washer.
- Bolt.
- Latex Glove.
- Rubber Band.
- Ruler/Tape Measure.
- Scissors.
- Engineering Paper.
- Bead.
- Metal Rod (3mm in diameter).
Preparation and Set Up: N/A
Procedure
  1. Connect two ring terminals using a bold, a washer, and a nut. Make sure the fit is tight, but that the joint moves smoothly. This is your knee.
  2. The most important part of your leg will be its socket. Your socket must fit snugly so that it will stay in place on the leg, but not so snugly that it cannot be removed when necessary. To make the perfect socket:
    1. Cut off the pinkie of your latex glove, and fit it over the amputee’s leg.
    2. Pull it tightly and secure it using a rubber band. The rubber band should be high enough that it will not interfere with your mold without being so high that it cuts into the hip.
    3. Cut the tip off just large enough that your knot from the end of the leg sticks out.
    4. Using Krazy Glue, attach the end of the ring terminal to the latex making the knot sit inside. The glue should stick only to the latex and not to the leg. This is important.
    5. When the glue has dried, begin putting on the Model Magic all around the leg and ring terminal to give a good transition from thigh to knee.
    6. As it dries, Krazy glue the ring terminal to the Model Magic.
    7. Leave your socket ot dry on the mannequin.
    8. When it is dry (next class period to be sure), fold the top of the latex glove over the sides and remove the socket by tugging on the glove.
    9. Try putting it on and taking it off to make sure you have a good fit.
  3. Measure the length that you will need cut for the lower leg, and make sure to consider the length that will fit into your ring terminal, and how much space you will need under it for the ankle and foot to fit. For this you should draw a diagram to scale on the engineering paper provided in pencil. When you are confident in your measurement, submit it to your instructor who will cut the rod for you (by next class period).
  4. When you have your rod to work with, cover one end very thinly with Model Magic. Put some Krazy Glue into the ring, and insert the rod into the ring. Let the glue dry.
  5. Have the doll stem into some left-over Model Magic or clay to get the size and shape of his foot. Make a foot for his new leg using this mold. To the top of the foot, for an ankle, connect a bead that will fit around the end of the dolls lower leg.
  6. Make sure your new foot will fit onto Jude’s leg and that both sides are even. When the foot is dry, glue the end of your rod into the bead, and make sure that the bead is strongly attached to the foot (this may need some glue). When the glue is dried you are done!
Extensions or Modifications: Make the prosthetic function as a normal leg does (i.e., no hyperextension, no movements that are impossible for, or would cause injury to, humans).
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/pros1.doc
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/pros2.pdf
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/pros3.pdf
Reference 4 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/pros4.doc

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