LEGO robotics continues to grow and gain popularity at RSU 1. Thanks to a generous donation from the George Davenport Trust in 2013, we have nearly twenty complete LEGO Mindstorms © kits to work with. This is enough for up to forty students in grades seven and eight to participate.
I spent part of last summer putting together a scope and sequence for the LEGO program, and we have been following it pretty well. We began the year by writing code for a color sensor to sense one color and then speak its name. The program involved switches with multiple cases and a loop.
One program went above and beyond, and was able to detect and speak three different colors. The program looked like this:
- enter loop
- if red is detected, say red one time
- if red is not detected proceed to next switch
- if green is detected, say green one time
- if green is not detected proceed to next switch
- if blue is detected, say blue one time
- if blue is not detected proceed to end of loop
- repeat loop indefinitely
I also had kids build driving robots that did simple movements.
- Move forward a set amount, stop, and reverse to the starting point.
- Travel in a square, returning to the exact place you started.
- Use the ultrasonic sensor to maintain a set distance from an obstacle that moves forward and backward.
The LEGO kits we have use four sensors, a touch sensor, an ultrasonic sensor, a light sensor, and a gyroscopic sensor. Motors can also be used as sensors by measuring rotations/degrees and sending that data to the EV3 Intelligent Brick.
We have a series of exciting competitions planned for this year. On December 21st we will hold the second annual Sumo Robot Competition in "The Pit" at Morse High School. This is a really fun event that has pairs of robots facing off in a contest to push each other from the ring. 16 teams will compete for first, second and third place.
This type of learning is pretty enticing to middle school students -- it's creative, fun and experimental. It's a departure from typical classroom experiences. Kids get so immersed in the creative process that it's a challenge to get them to leave at the end of the period.
We have just scratched the surface so far this year. I look forward to watching the kids continue to grow by learning from "doing." I remind them each day that we learn from failing, so "fail early, fail often, and fail cheaply." We hope to see you at the Sumo Bot Competition on 12/21!