Follow the Hand


Name of Activity Follow Hand- Ultrasonic Sensor
Author Leiny Garcia and Kenny Westerman
Keywords Ultrasonic Sensor
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students have to program the car robot to follow a hand or object.
Lesson Objectives: Introduce the Ultrasonic sensor while using prior knowledge of programming, including loops and switches.
Materials Needed: LEGO NXT kit
Preparation and Set Up: 1. Distribute NXT kits and computers
2. Pair up students
3. Worksheet to brainstorm programming
Necessary Background Programming with switches and loops
Procedure 1. Introduce how the ultrasonic sensor works if needed 2. Review programming with switches and loops 3. Introduce activity. Explain that the robot needs to follow the hand. When the hand is too far, then the robot must move forward. If the hand is too close, then the robot must stop. 4. Distribute materials 5. Program and test. 6. Final Demonstration.

Frankenstein’s Robot


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.



Say Hello!





Name of Activity Say Hello!
Author Laura Fradin, Jake Hellman
Keywords NXT, programming, mindstorms, robotics, aguayo, 5th grade, sensors
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 5
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students build and program robots that “interact” with the outside world using a sensor.
Lesson Objectives: -Practice building with NXT kits
-Learn how sensors work and where they should be placed in order to work
-Basic Mindstorm Programming
Materials Needed: -NXT kits
Preparation and Set Up: Jake and I made two example robots with two example programs to give them an idea of how sensors work and a very basic program would be done.
(The easy example programs, “Say Hello” and “Touch Sensor”, are attached and on the outline)
Procedure 1) Introduce the Challenge The Challenge: Build a robot (or modify your robot from last week) that “says hello” to you. This means that it acknowledges your existence it some way. This can be it actually saying hello as in our example program, or can merely have it react (back up, turn, make a noise, display a picture, etc.) to a certain stimulus (light, sound, etc). 2) Split students into smaller groups. Run the example program. Have the students tell you what the robot did. Then go through and go step by step to make the program they just witnessed. 3) Have students plan what they want to do (what sensors they will use, what the robot will do after the sensor is activated, etc) 4) Hand out NXT kits. Allow students to build for one class period. 5) The second class period/hour should be spent programming, testing, and re-programming. 6) Allow students to present
Extensions: -use more than one sensor (create a longer code)
Reference 1

Introduction to Sensors-Ultrasonic





Name of Activity Introduction to Sensors-Ultrasonic Sensor
Author Danish Bhatti, Kenny Westermann
Keywords NXT Robotics, Sensors, Ultrasonic Sensor, Datalogging
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description An introduction to robotics would be incomplete without imparting a basic understanding of how robots perceive their environment and react to it. We did this activity to add more dimensions to the functionalities of the robots that our class made. Up till now the robots could not function with respect to external stimuli and performed only simple tasks.

Once we put sensors into the equation, robotics suddenly became much more engaging for the students since their creations started displaying a sense of awareness as compared to the mindless drones that they were before.

At the start of the lesson, we began by trying to show the class how animals in nature perceive their environments. We also discussed how humans use their eyes ears and touch to understand different aspects of our environment. Then we worked on relating this concept to robots and NXT robots in particular. How the sensors corresponded to some of the key senses of the human body, how the NXT brick functioned as the Brain and how motors resembled muscles in their role as actuators.

Then we moved on to talk about the ultrasonic sensor and its functions. We also spent some time teaching the class how they could incorporate the sensors into their mindstorms programs. In the previous lesson we had introduced the wait-for command so the class was very quick to catch on.

We gave the class some time to install the sensors on their robots and then we simply put up a checklist of tasks we wanted the class to have their robots perform–tasks that had at least one part which relied on the use of the ultrasonic sensor. e.g: If anything comes closer to the robot than 20cm, have the robot panic and run backwards at full speed for 2 seconds.

Lesson Objectives: Understanding the concept of a sensor.
Where sensors are found in the natural world.
How does the Ultrasonic sensor work?
How to write a program that can make use of ultrasonic sensorsor sensors in general?
Altering the design of your robot to ensure optimum placement for the sensor.
Materials Needed: NXT Kit
Computers w/ NXT software
Preparation and Set Up: None
Necessary Background Experience making NXT robots that rely on sensors.
Procedure 1-What are Sensors? 2-Where can we find them in the real world? 3-What is an ultrasonic sensor and how does it work? 4-Adding the sensor to the robot. 5-Programming it. 6-Testing the machine 7-Optimization

Red Light, Green Light





Name of Activity Red Light, Green Light
Author STOMP
Keywords NXT, cars, robotics, sensors
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will program cars to play a game of “Red Light, Green Light” based on sound. Robots will race each other, but have to stop at hearing a clap, go on the next clap, etc.
Lesson Objectives: Learn the use of the sound sensor.
Materials Needed: NXT Kit, laptop
Preparation and Set Up: Have a defined start and end line for the race.
Necessary Background Have a functioning car to be programmed, knowledge of programming loops.
Procedure 1. Brainstorm the programming strategy. 2. Program the cars to alternately stop and go on hearing a noise. 3. Refine the decibel threshold of the sound sensor so it is not too sensitive or overly sensitive. 4. Have the cars race each other, disqualifying cars if they don’t follow the rules.
Extensions: This could be modified to use another sensor as the “light.”
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) NXT Robotics

The Perfect Puppy





Name of Activity The Perfect Puppy
Author Alison Boreiko
Keywords NXT, introduction to robotics, animal, dog, programming, sensors
Subject NXTs, LEGO Building
Grade Level 5
Time 3 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will combine their knowledge of sensors, programming and building to create their “perfect puppy.”
Lesson Objectives: -Teach students to program with more than one sensor
Materials Needed: -Project Proposal Worksheet
-NXT kits
-*optional: Craft Supplies (for decorating the dog)
Preparation and Set Up: -Make copies of the Project Proposal Worksheets (1 per group)
Procedure 1. Give instructions: Students are to design a pet dog. The dog should use two sensors to mimic dog behavior. 2. Have the students fill out a project proposal form. It’s important that they clearly explain which behavior they wish to mimic and how they will go about mimicking it with the NXT. Demand precision and specificity in their project proposals. 3. Once a group has had their proposal approved, give them their NXT kit and their laptop so they can get to work!
Extensions: Students can continue to develop their robotic dogs.

NXT Musical Instrument





Name of Activity NXT Musical Instrument
Author Jay Clark
Keywords Mary Had A Little Lamb, simple song, NXT, switches, sensors, task, instrument, wiring, math blocks, programming, loops, MINDSTORMS, Music Engineering, numerical frequency, audible, pitch, 2 Hours Total
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and other simple songs on their NXT using switches and touch sensors. When students complete that task, they will make an instrument using other sensors, requiring wiring and math blocks in their programs.
Lesson Objectives: Learn about loops, switches, and math blocks
Introduce Musical Instrument Engineering
Understand the relationship between numerical frequency and audible pitch
Materials Needed: NXT Kit
Computer with MINDSTORMS NXT software
Necessary Background Mary had a little lamb is a simple song consisting of just three notes. The notes and corresponding lyrics are below:


ma-ry had a lit-tle lamb


lit-tle lamb, lit-tle lamb


mar-y had a lit-tle lamb


whose fleece was white as snow

All musical notes have a corresponding frequency. Concert A (or middle A) is 440 Hz. In order to play mary had a little lamb using a light or distance sensor, you must know the frequencies of the three notes you’re using:

C – 262

D – 294

E – 330


frequency – the rate at which a vibration occurs. Determines the pitch of a note.

Procedure Introduction Introduce switches to the students. A switch is a program structure that makes decisions based on external criteria, such as a sensor value. Introduce the lesson. Show the students the notes of Mary had a little lamb. Ask them how many touch sensors they would need to play it. Guide them to realize that they could use 2, and there are 4 opportunities for notes to play with two touch sensors: Left pressed, right pressed, both pressed, none pressed. Guide them through brainstorming how the program should look. Usually it’s hard for them to see that the second switch is required. ActivityHave the students program their robots to be able to play mary had a little lamb using switch blocks and sound blocks. When they finish, have them use another sensor and wiring and math blocks in their program to create another musical instrument. Or allow them to use switches with another sensor to set up ranges for each note.
Extensions: Play a different song!
Use touch sensors in conjunction with another sensor to set the octave.
Reference 1

NXT Segway





Name of Activity NXT Segway
Author Jay Clark
Keywords NXT, balance, wheels, sensors, wiring, math blocks, proportional controllers, light sensor
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 9+
Time 3 Hours Total
Brief Description Students build and program an NXT to balance on only two wheels using two light sensors.
Lesson Objectives: Master the use of wiring and math blocks
Master Building with NXT pieces
Introduce the concept of proportional controllers
Materials Needed: NXT kit plus one additional light sensor for each group.
Computers with LEGO Mindstorms installed.
Preparation and Set Up: Make sure this activity is done in an evenly lit room with a consistently-colored floor. Otherwise, it will not work.
Distribute extra light sensors to each group.
Necessary Background An NXT segway works by separating two light sensors about the center of gravity of the robot. If the robot loses its balance and starts to lean one way, one light sensor will receive more reflected light than the other. The differnce in these values can be scaled and then used to control the motors.

Generally, the following tips allow for the easiest construction of an NXT Segway:

The robot’s center of gravity should be such that the robot’s balancing point allows for the two light sensors to be evenly spaced off the ground.
The further the light sensors are from the robot, the more sensitive the response.
Weight should be added way above the pivot point (the wheels). Think about balancing a broom vs. balancing a watermelon.

Vocabulary: Proportional Controller – Control in which the amount of corrective action is proportional to the amount of error

Procedure Introduce students to the concept of proportional control. examples:

  • slowing down based on distance from stop sign
  • changing dial in shower based on error from desired temperature.

Introduce proportional control in the human brain in the form of keeping balance.

  • If you lean forward a little bit, your brain applies pressure to your toes to try to push your center of gravity back.
  • If you move to far forward, your brain will step forward.
  • If you are leaning way far forward, your brain will call for a very quick, large step.

The reaction is proportional to the error.   Introduce the segway activity. Now that we know how to balance an object that we know is leaning one way or another, we need to determine how we can figure out if the NXT is leaning. Ask students for suggestions. Encourage all ideas, but in the end, tell them that we’re going to use light sensors because they have the most consistent response and resolution. Activity If we mount the light sensors so they are the exact same distance off the ground when the robot is balanced, we can be sure that the light sensors will have the same reading. If the robot starts leaning, there will be a difference in the light sensor readings. We can use that difference to control the motors to balance the robot.Notes Students will have to experimentally determine their constant of proportionality. Because the power input of the move block converts negative numbers into positive numbers, there needs to be a comparison block to set the move block’s direction.

Reference 1
Reference 2

Lincoln LEGO Land





Name of Activity Lincoln LEGO Land
Author STOMP
Keywords LEGO, structure, environment, Lincoln LEGO Land, sensors
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 3 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will use engineering knowledge gained throughout the previous lessons to create a LEGO structure as part of a class-chosen environment.
Lesson Objectives: n/a
Materials Needed: 1 Team Challenge LEGO kit for each group of 2 – 4 students
Lincoln LEGO Land planning sheet (attached)
Lincoln LEGO Land Evaluation
Preparation and Set Up: n/a
  1. Review past LEGO activities with the students, emphasizing the floowing:
    1. Building a sturdy car
    2. Programming for time
    3. Light sensors
    4. Touch sensors
    5. Designing
  2. Present the design challenge to the students:
    1. Tell students that they will create their own classroom LEGO environment.
    2. Brainstorm ideas. A few examples are:
      1. Amusement Parks
      2. Toy Stores
      3. Pet Shops
      4. Zoos
      5. City/Town
      6. Mini-golf
      7. Airport
      8. Playground
      9. Circus
    3. Agree upon an environment that the students want to create (you may want to have a classroom vote).
    4. As a class, brainstorm ideas of structures that you want to include in your environment.
    5. Assign each group one of the structures to create out of LEGOs so that there is no duplication.
    6. Before building, give students the task of building a structure that includes at least one programming component. Use concepts learned throughout the year (sensors, timing, motors, etc.)
    7. Have students plan their designs on the Lincoln LEGO Land Planning Sheet.
    8. Check the plans and allow the teams to begin building and programming.
    9. Encourage each student to add an individual element to their design.
    10. When projects are complete have students fill out Lincoln LEGO Land Evaluation.
    11. The final day, assemble all the structures and have students share their design with other students, teacher, parents, community members, administrators, etc.)
    12. Students can make a booklet to share as well, including pictures of their designs.
Reference 1
Reference 2
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Reference 4

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