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

Intro to Scratch

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Intro to Scratch
Author STOMP
Keywords Scratch, Programming, User Input
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students learn basic programming concepts with Scratch, including giving a sprite instructions and having a sprite respond to user input.
Lesson Objectives: - Students are introduced to the Scratch block interface
- Students learn basic motion blocks, including glide, move __ steps, and change x or y
- In the second half of the lesson students get the sprite to move using user input instead of basic instructions
Materials Needed: Computers, preferably one for each student.
Preparation and Set Up: None
Necessary Background None
Procedure If students have never seen programming before, it may be a good idea to start with human robot to get them used to the idea. Another good intro game is to set up the floor space as an xy plane with positive and negative axes. Then do a “simon says” type game where you tell the students coordinate pairs and have them go to the approximate location on the floor. This can be a good way to get them used to the idea of the Cartesian plane if they’ve never seen it before. Show the students an example of a sprite moving to the four corners, and write on the board the blocks they’ll need. Then let the students explore the program a little with this goal in mind until they figure out a way to do it (there are multiple right ways). In the second hour have them move the sprite again, this time using key presses or mouse clicks. Key presses are the easiest, using the when ___ key pressed block under the events section.
Extensions: Challenge the students by asking them to try moving the sprite two or three different ways.

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)

Pet Training Activity

ACTIVITY HEADER

Name of Activity NXT Pet Training Activity – (Intro to Touch Sensor)
Author Leticia’s Group
Keywords NXT, animal, touch sensor
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 6
Time 4+ Hours Total
Brief Description This activity is designed for 6th graders to practice “training their animal robot” by using the touch sensor. Students brainstorm tricks for animal NXT robots. The level of difficulty can vary based on their familiarity with the touch sensor and estimated to last two weeks.
Lesson Objectives: Introduce students to the touch sensor by asking them to explore its properties through different ways of training your pet dog. It would require them to go through the design process and think through the ways we train our pets and how those commands can be translated and applied to the NXT animal robotics. Important for them to think about what sort of commands they are capable of programming that would work well on the robot.
Materials Needed: LEGO NXTS
Procedure The point of this activity is to train your pet dog using touch sensors. Some of the activities could be to see what happens or how the animal robot reacts when you pet its head or tail. One of the students tasks or goals should be to be able to program their robot so that when the touch sensor is pressed once it does a command and then pressing twice it does a different command. Possible solutions for them could be to get their robots to lift and shake a hand, twirl around, potentially use their sound sensor to bark, or wag their tail.

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.

 

 

Snap Circuits

ACTIVITY HEADER

Name of Activity Snap Circuits Intro
Author STOMP
Keywords electrical engineering, circuits
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Activity involves building series and parallel circuits with LED’s, resistors, and switches
Lesson Objectives: To introduce students to the Snap Circuit Kits
Materials Needed: Snap Circuit Kits
Preparation and Set Up: Make copies of worksheets

arrange students in pairs

Distribute Kits and

Necessary Background Parallel

Series

Resistors

LED’s

Switch

conductor

inductor

Procedure 1. Discuss and introduce the vocabulary 2. have the students design any circuit they want (multiple LED’s in series/parallel) on a worksheet, 3. have them predict what will happen 4. build and write observations

Electricity and Magnetism Challenge

Name of Activity Electricity and Magnetism Challenge
Author STOMP
Keywords electricity, magnetism
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description (Final Project) Students must complete 3 electricity and magnetism-related challenges to earn their STOMP diplomas
Lesson Objectives: -Give students a series of tasks in which they must work together and use the knowledge gained throughout the STOMP semester to illustrate what they have learned
Materials Needed: -Challenge Papers (attached)
-diploma (optional – reward for completing all challenges)
for individual challenges…
-Static Electricity: balloon, paper
-Circuits: Playdoh, LEDs, 9V battery
-Magnetism: Playdoh
Preparation and Set Up: -Put students in groups (if not already done)
-Print out a copy of each challenge for each group, and fold up the challenges so they cannot be seen
-Place all materials on table for kids to access
Necessary Background None
Procedure 1. Hand out a copy of the first challenge to each group, and countdown to when the challenge can be opened 2. Students complete challenges and come to STOMPer when finished.  If done correctly, group moves onto next challenge 3. When all challenges are completed, kids get their diploma (Note: some groups will finish before others, so its a good idea to have a “bonus challenge” in mind – we had kids build a circuit that has both parallel and series components when they were finished)
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Stomp-Electricity-and-Magnetism.docx
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity and Magnetism

Hover Crafts

Name of Activity Hover Crafts
Author STOMP
Keywords air resistance, design engineering, aeronautical engineering, wind, tunnel, fan
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Given some basic household supplies (popsicle sticks, paper, foam, aluminum foil, straws, clothes pins, etc), students were asked to create a “hover craft” that could remain in the air inside a wind tunnel created using a tunnel and a fan.
Lesson Objectives: -Emphasize the engineering design process and the need for testing and redesigning.
-Discuss and explore air resistance and forces.
Materials Needed: -wind tunnel
-fan
-popsicle sticks
-paper
-foam
-aluminum foil
-straws
-clothes pins
-construction paper
-Activity Worksheet
Preparation and Set Up: -Print out enough copies of the activity worksheet
-separate materials into bags will equal numbers of each material per group
-set up the wind tunnel by placing the tunnel on top of the fan and turning the fan on
Necessary Background -Discuss air resistance
-Discuss design engineering/aeronautical engineering
Procedure 1. Explain the challenge–to create a hovercraft that stays in the air the longest. 2. Students draw initial designs and then discuss their designs in their groups. 3. Students combine ideas into one design and then may begin to build with the materials. 4. Students test and redesign throughout the class period evaluating what is working well and what isn’t. 5. The class discusses the best and worst pieces of their many designs and discusses why they might have worked/not worked.
Extensions: To make the activity more difficult, you may give students fewer materials or give them a “budget” with which to “buy” materials.
Modifications: It is important not to use too strong a fan or else no matter what they make, it will just fly out of the tunnel.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/worksheet-for-aeronautical-engineering.docx
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Intro to Types of Engineering

Popsicle Stick Bridges

Name of Activity Popsicle Stick Bridges
Author STOMP
Keywords popsicle sticks, civil engineering, forces, sturdy structures
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Give the students 50 popsicle sticks and a set amount of tape and ask them to design a bridge 2 feet long and as wide as their palm. Test the bridges to see how many books they can hold.
Lesson Objectives: Introduce students to the qualities of sturdy structures and the engineering design process (encourage testing).
Materials Needed: popsicle sticks, tape, books, desks/tables
Preparation and Set Up: Print out enough worksheets for the class. Count out the number of popsicle sticks for each group and cut up the tape.
Procedure 1. Outline the activity–the students must make a bridge to hold as many books as possible given limited materials and certain length requirements (identify the problem). 2. Have each student design a possible bridge (develop possible solutions). 3. Have the groups discuss their designs and come up with one design as a group (Select the Best Possible Solution). 4. Distribute the materials once the group has shown you they have a design. 5. Each group constructs a prototype. 6. Groups test by adding books and evaluates their bridge. 7. They continue to redesign and test. 8. Wrap up by discussing the most and least effective solutions each group tried.
Extensions: To increase the difficulty, you may add or take away materials. For example, you can ask them to make the same length bridge with fewer popsicle sticks or also give each group other materials like paper and straws and require a longer bridge. In addition, limiting the amount of tape can force students to have to come up with more creative solutions.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/worksheet-for-popsicle-stick-bridges-Copy-Copy.docx
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Introduction to Engineering/Sturdy Structures

Little Johnny and his Pet Cow

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Pulleys- Little Johnny and his Pet Cow
Author Matthew Mueller
Keywords Pulleys, simple machines, weighing, balancing, well
Subject Simple Machines
Grade Level 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Little Johnny’s pet cow has fallen down a well! You need to come up with a system of pulleys that will help little Johnny lift his cow out of the well.
Lesson Objectives: Get kids to understand the idea that pulleys can both change direction of motion, and lessen the amount of force needed to lift a heavy object.
Materials Needed: Lego pulleys, beams, axles, string, weights
Necessary Background A basic understanding of pulleys and their uses.
Procedure First have the kids try and make a wall of pulleys and show how it is easier to pull up a heavy object when using the pulleys.  Then challenge the kids to build a wall of pulleys that is capable of balancing as many weights on one side with just one weight on the other side.
Extensions: They can always try to balance more weights on one side and show that the more pulleys there are, the lighter the load will seem on the other side.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Simple Machines

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