|Name of Activity||Communication Towers|
|Author||Ali Boreiko + Jen Scinto|
|Keywords||communication, non-NXT, building, teamwork, social skills|
|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)
|Name of Activity||LEGO House|
|Keywords||LEGO, house, building, town, electricity, circuit, light, bulb, constraints, construction, squishy circuits|
|Subject||Non-LEGO, LEGO Building|
|Grade Level||3, 4, 5|
|Time||3 Hours Total|
|Brief Description||Students will build LEGO houses that are lit by LED bulbs to certain design constraints.|
|Lesson Objectives:||- Introduce students to LEGO building under design constraints
- Familiarize students with the process of planning and implementing a circuit
|Materials Needed:||- LEGO Bricks
- LED Bulbs
- Wires (or playdough)
- House bases (for the design constraint)
- Alligator clips
|Preparation and Set Up:||- Give each group a base, bricks, an LED bulb, and wire (or playdough)
- Explain design constraints
|Necessary Background||Basic electricity information, LEGO familiarity|
|Extensions:||- Make the house more realistic (make the light connect to the ceiling or look like a lamp)
- Give more specific design constraints
- Use more than one bulb per house – would create better diversity of solutions
- Have groups of students create ‘neighborhoods’ so that they have to combine their circuits to connect to one communal energy source
|Name of Activity||Peak Performance|
|Keywords||NXT, car, course, fastest, flat, inclined, gear, gear ratios, torque, speed, optimization, building, drive gear, driven gear, 1 Hour Total|
|Grade Level||K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+|
|Time||1 Hour Total|
|Brief Description||Students must gear their NXT car to complete the course the fastest. The course consists of a flat section and an inclined section.|
|Lesson Objectives:||To learn about gear ratios, gearing for torque vs gearing for speed, optimization, and building.|
|Materials Needed:||NXT kit
Computers running MINDSTORMS
|Preparation and Set Up:||Prepare one or more courses – With a flat beginning and an incline ending. The length of both sections will determine the optimum gear ratio. To allow for extensions, set up other courses with varying distances of the course components.|
|Necessary Background||Using gear ratios students can gear their cars for more torque or more speed. If the drive gear is bigger than the driven gear, the car will be geared for speed. If the other way around, it will be geared for torque.
A car geared for torque will be slower, but will climb better. A car geared for speed will be quick, but might not be able to climb the ramp.
Gear Ratio – The ratio of the speed of rotation of the drive gear of a gear train to that of the driven gear.
Drive Gear- The gear attached to the source of torque. (Usually the motor).
Driven Gear – The gear that receives motion from the drive gear.
Optimization – Finding a balance between design concerns that yields the best solution.
|Procedure||Introduction – 10 Minutes Ask students if they’ve ever used gears before. More than likely, they’ve driven a 10 speed bike before, and never knew how the gears worked. Introduce students to gears and gear ratios. Using a pre-made gear train, show them the size of the drive gear and the driven gear, and ask if the driven gear will spin faster or slower than the drive. If they are having trouble seeing it, ask them for every one rotation of the drive gear, how many times does the driven gear rotate? Explain torque vs. speed. ie. tugboats – high torque, low speed. Handheld fans- high speed, low torque. Introduce the concept of optimization. Introduce the activity Activity – 40 minutes Clean up/ Wrap up – 10 minutes
|Extensions:||Have the students try a different course with different dimensions and slopes.|
|Name of Activity||Tow Truck|
|Keywords||steep, ramp, tow, towing, weight, gears, gear up, gear down, building, design, friction, gravity, center of gravity|
|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
batteries for weight
computers running NXT Software
|Preparation and Set Up:||Build a ramp.
Set up computers running NXT software.
Arrange student in groups of two.
|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
|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?