Students work in groups to build a vehicle using NXT kits that includes a wheel and axle and has to be able to hold a ball. To discourage everyone from using a basic car design, their designs cannot have exactly four wheels. Once their design is complete (including motors and the NXT brick), each group learns how to use on brick programming to make their vehicle move the ball across their workspace.
Improved understanding of the wheel and axle as a simple machine. Students gain skill building with NXT kits and using on brick programming.
-NXT kits (1 per group)
Preparation and Set Up:
Consider bringing extra Legos for groups to build with, prepare to talk about the project in terms of the Engineering Design Process and simple machines.
Introduce the project by talking about the importance of the wheel and axle as a simple machine.
Tell them the objective: to make a vehicle that can’t have exactly four wheels, includes the NXT brick and motors, and is capable of carrying the NXT ball across their workspace.
Explain the project in terms of the Engineering Design Process, discuss which steps would be best to focus on for this project.
We drew the entire Engineering Design Process on the board and went over each step, asking them how they though the steps fit into this activity. At the end of the discussion we decided that the most important steps for this activity would probably be developing/ sketching solutions, prototyping, and communicating with other group members.
Separate students into groups of 3-5.
Most teachers already have some method of grouping students, or know which students shouldn’t be in a group together.
Give them the rest of the first hour to sketch a design and then build it.
Make sure each group includes motors and the NXT brick into their design.
If the lesson is taking place over two, one-hour blocks leave 5-10 minutes at the end of the first block for cleanup.
Once a group has their vehicle fully assembled, show them how to make it move using on brick programming.
Make sure each member of the group gets a chance to try programming, and show them how to do things like change direction, turn, and loop through a set of instructions.
If any of the groups finish early, show them how to add sensors and change the on brick program to respond to sensor input.
Leave 15 minutes for each group to demonstrate their finished vehicle and clean up.