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.
Set up an example of each type of simple machine machine at stations around the classroom. Each station should have NXT kits, or Lego/ found materials, available for students to try mimic building each machine of their own design. It is important that for each simple machine there is an example of the machine being used in the real world (this can be done with pictures at each station, or video). This will help to get them to think about their own real world examples. End with a general discussion and “show and tell” of the simple machines they made during class. If there is time also discuss how each simple machine could be improved.
Introduce students to the seven simple machines. Prepare students for a curriculum involving building/ using simple machines.
-NXT kits (for preparing examples)
-Lego simple machine kits
-real world example pictures/ videos
-Legos in classroom for students to make their own
-assorted found materials
Preparation and Set Up:
Construct (out of Legos or found materials) an example of each simple machine before going into the class. Find a way to display pictures or video of a real world example of each simple machine to display at each station.
Prepare an example of each simple machine before going into the classroom
Note: All of the simple machines could be built with either Legos or found materials. We found that Legos worked best for building the inclined plane, wheel and axle, pulley, gear, and lever examples. We used Tetrix to demonstrate the screw and a doorstop to demonstrate the wedge.
Print a picture of a real world example for each simple machine.
Before going to the classroom, make sure they have enough NXT kits, assorted Legos, or found materials for students to build their own simple machine examples.
Consider bringing in extra supplies and Lego pieces since NXT kits don’t work extremely well for building every type of simple machine.
In the classroom, introduce each simple machine and set up the examples at seven stations around the classroom. Ask them to think about (or write down) what tasks each machine could be used for, how do they make these tasks easier, and how the examples that the STOMPers built could be better.
Allow students to walk around between stations and attempt to build their own version of each simple machine.
Leave the last 10 minutes for students to present the examples they built and discuss the points they considered during the class time.
More time might be required depending on how much cleanup there is.