Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Robotics Module

The camp began with the training of the ICT teachers in order to provide them with the knowledge to assist the students in building and programming robots. The teachers had to complete all of the activities in the lesson plans that were to be completed by the girls. I was tasked with creating the lessons for the Robotics Module of the camp, and would like to give a special thanks to Dr. George Stockman, who greatly helped with the development of the ideas in the Robotics Module. Each daily lesson was 2 hours long, we had a total of 5 lessons. This means that the students accomplished the learning objectives given only 10 hours! The Robotics lessons included 1) Understanding Robots and The Importance of Sensors, 2) Building and Programming the 5 Minute Bot and 3) Building and Programming the Tribot. The teachers and students had an amazing time learning about robots and especially building them. The important take-away skills in the module related to communication, leadership, team work, problem solving, and critical thinking, which are all key concepts that are essential in the real world. Another special thanks to all our supporters because the Robotics Module wouldn't have been possible without the donations of materials, equipment and time from MSU, IBM, James Holly Jr. and Dr. Barbara O'Kelly.  

The first lesson involved an introduction on why robots are important, different disciplines that use robots and the key components of robots: sensors, movement, intelligence, and energy. Immediately following the introduction, the students were able test the different sensors using the NXT Mindstorm brick. The sensors we focused on were the light, sound, touch and ultrasonic sensor. The students were able to make programs directly on the bricks and see the immediate effects of their created programs.

The second lesson was the 5 Minute Bot. During construction days, each group was composed of a Project Manager, Checker, Go-Getter and Builder, and students would switch roles every 8 minutes.  
  • The Project Manager oversaw the tasks while maintaining the team’s morale.  
  • The Go-Getter collected and organized all materials needed to complete the step. 
  • The Builder was responsible for building, and following the instructions.  
  • The Checker verified if the builder completed each step correctly. If the Checker found something wrong, it was up to her to correct that step.  
After the students built and programmed their robots, we went outside and had a race. During programming days, the group roles were Project Manager, Computer Programmer, Computer Aide and Quality Control Engineer. In contrast to construction days, the students only switched roles for different missions. 

Racing 5 Minute Bots

The remaining lessons were focused around building and programming the Tribot. An example programming challenge that the students completed involved making your robot move in a rectangular shape.

Students beginning to build the Tribot

ICT teachers inspecting their Tribot

The Tribot

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