Students learn about the similarities between the human brain and its engineering counterpart, the computer. Since students work with computers routinely, this comparison strengthens their understanding of both how the brain works and how it parallels that of a computer. Students are also introduced to the "stimulus-sensor-coordinator-effector-response" framework for understanding human and robot actions.
Students continue their exploration of the human senses and their engineering counterparts, focusing on the auditory sense. Working in small groups, students design, create and run programs to control the motion of LEGO® TaskBots. By doing this, they increase their understanding of the use and function of sound sensors, gain experience writing robot programs, and reinforce their understanding of the sensory process.
Students engage in the second design challenge of the unit, which is an extension of the maze challenge they solved in the first lesson/activity of this unit. Students extend the ideas learned in the maze challenge with a focus more on the robot design. Gears are a very important part of any machine, particularly when it has a power source such as engine or motor. Specifically, students learn how to design the gear train from the LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT servomotor to the wheel to make the LEGO taskbot go faster or slower. A PowerPoint® presentation, pre/post quizzes and a worksheet are provided.
Students learn about the anatomy of the ear and how the ears work as a sound sensor. Ear anatomy parts and structures are explained in detail, as well as how sound is transmitted mechanically and then electrically through them to the brain. Students use LEGO® robots with sound sensors to measure sound intensities, learning how the NXT brick (computer) converts the intensity of sound measured by the sensor input into a number that transmits to a screen. They build on their experiences from the previous activities and establish a rich understanding of the sound sensor and its relationship to the TaskBot's computer.
Students are provided with a rigorous background in human "sensors" (including information on the main five senses, sensor anatomies, and nervous system process) and their engineering equivalents, setting the stage for three associated activities involving sound sensors on LEGO® robots. As they learn how robots receive input from sensors, transmit signals and make decisions about how to move, students reinforce their understanding of the human body's sensory process.
Student groups are challenged to program robots with light sensors to follow a black line. Learning both the logic and skills behind programming robots for this challenge helps students improve their understanding of how robots "think" and widens their appreciation for the complexity involved in programming LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robots to do what appears to be a simple task. They test their ideas for approaches to solve the problem and ultimately learn a (provided) working programming solution. They think of real-world applications for line-follower robots that use sensor input. A PowerPoint® presentation and pre/post quizzes are provided.
As the first engineering design challenge of the unit, students are introduced to the logic for solving a maze. First they observe a blindfolded student volunteer being guided through a classroom maze by the simple verbal instructions of another student. In this demonstration, the blindfolded student represents a robot and the guiding student represents programming commands. Then student groups apply that logic to program LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robots to navigate through a maze, first with no sensors, and then with sensors. A PowerPoint® presentation, pre/post quizzes and a worksheet are provided.
Students learn about the human body's system components, specifically its sensory systems, nervous system and brain, while comparing them to robot system components, such as sensors and computers. The unit's life sciences-to-engineering comparison is accomplished through three lessons and five activities. The important framework of "stimulus-sensor-coordinator-effector-response" is introduced to show how it improves our understanding the cause-effect relationships of both systems. This framework reinforces the theme of the human body as a system from the perspective of an engineer. This unit is the second of a series, intended to follow the Humans Are Like Robots unit.
Students observe and test their reflexes, including the (involuntary) pupillary response and (voluntary) reaction times using their dominant and non-dominant hands, as a way to further explore how reflexes occur in humans. They gain insights into how our bodies react to stimuli, and how some reactions and body movements are controlled automatically, without conscious thought. Using information from the associated lesson about how robots react to situations, including the stimulus-to-response framework, students see how engineers use human reflexes as examples for controls for robots.
Students learn about human reflexes, how our bodies react to stimuli and how some body reactions and movements are controlled automatically, without thinking consciously about the movement or responses. In the associated activity, students explore how reflexes work in the human body by observing an involuntary human reflex and testing their own reaction times using dominant and non-dominant hands. Once students understand the stimulus-to-response framework components as a way to describe human reflexes and reactions in certain situations, they connect this knowledge to how robots can be programmed to conduct similar reactions.
Through the two lessons and five activities in this unit, students' knowledge of sensors and motors is integrated with programming logic as they perform complex tasks using LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robots and software. First, students are introduced to the discipline of engineering and "design" in general terms. Then in five challenge activities, student teams program LEGO robots to travel a maze, go as fast/slow as possible, push another robot, follow a line, and play soccer with other robots. This fifth unit in the series builds on the previous units and reinforces the theme of the human body as a system with sensors performing useful functions, not unlike robots. Through these design challenges, students become familiar with the steps of the engineering design process and come to understand how science, math and engineering including computer programming are used to tackle design challenges and help people solve real problems. PowerPoint® presentations, quizzes and worksheets are provided throughout the unit.
Students learn how two LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT intelligent bricks can be programmed so that one can remotely control the other. They learn about the components and functionality in the (provided) controller and receiver programs. When its buttons are pressed, the NXT brick assigned as the remote control device uses the controller program to send Bluetooth® messages. When the NXT taskbot/brick assigned as the receiver receives certain Bluetooth messages, it moves, as specified by the receiver program. Students examine how the programs and devices work in tandem, gaining skills as they play "robot soccer." As the concluding activity in this unit, this activity provides a deeper dimension of understanding programming logic compared to previous activities in this unit and introduces the relatively new and growing concept of wireless communication. A PowerPoint® presentation, pre/post quizzes and a worksheet are provided.
Why do humans have two ears? How do the properties of sound help with directional hearing? Students learn about directional hearing and how our brains determine the direction of sounds by the difference in time between arrival of sound waves at our right and left ears. Student pairs use experimental set-ups that include the headset portions of stethoscopes to investigate directional hearing by testing each other's ability to identify the direction from which sounds originate.
Students apply their knowledge of constructing and programming LEGO MINDSTORMS (TM)NXT robots to create sumobots - strong robots capable of pushing other robots out of a ring. To meet the challenge, groups follow the steps of the engineering design process and consider robot structure, weight and gear ratios in their designs to make their robots push as hard as possible to force robot opponents out of the ring. A class competition serves as the final test to determine the best designed robot, illustrating the interrelationships between designing, building and programming. This activity gives students the opportunity to be creative as well as have fun applying and combining what they have learned through the previous activities and lessons in this and prior units in the series. A PowerPoint (tm) presentation, pre/post quizzes and a worksheet are provided.
With the challenge to program computers to mimic the human reaction after touching a hot object, students program LEGO® robots to "react" and move back quickly once their touch sensors bump into something. By relating human senses to electronic sensors used in robots, students see the similarities between the human brain and its engineering counterpart, the computer, and come to better understand the functioning of sensors in both applications. They apply an understanding of the human "stimulus-sensor-coordinator-effector-response" framework to logically understand human and robot actions.
Students are introduced to an important engineering element the gear. Different types of gears are used in many engineering devices, including wind-up toys, bicycles, cars and non-digital clocks. Students learn about various types of gears and how they work in machines. They handle and combine LEGO spur gears as an exercise in gear ratios. They see how gears and different gear train arrangements are used to change the speed, torque and direction of a power source. This prepares them to apply this knowledge in four associated activities in order to create successful solutions to design challenges that use LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robots. A PowerPoint® presentation, pre/post quizzes and a worksheet are provided.
Students learn about electrical connections, how they work and their pervasiveness in our world. They consider the usefulness of wireless electrical connections for connecting electrical devices. Morse code is introduced as a communication method that takes advantage of on/off states to transmit messages by electrical bursts sent via wires, light or sound. They learn the Morse code rules and translate a few phrases into Morse code. Specifically, they learn about a wireless connection type known as Bluetooth that can be used to control LEGO robots remotely from Android devices, which leads into the associated activity.
Students are presented with an overview of engineering and design. Various engineering disciplines are discussed in some detail using slides and an online video and website. The concept of design is introduced by presenting the basic steps of the engineering design process. Students learn that design is not necessarily restricted to engineering, but a general concept applicable to all walks of life. To strengthen their understanding, students are challenged to design a picnic for their friends by considering its various components as they go through the design process steps. This prepares them for subsequent design challenges such as those in the associated activities of this unit. A PowerPoint® presentation, pre/post quizzes and worksheet are provided.
Through four lesson and four activities, students are introduced to the logic behind programming. Starting with very basic commands, they develop programming skills while they create and test programs using LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robots. Students apply new programming tools move blocks, wait blocks, loops and switches in order to better navigate robots through mazes. Through programming challenges, they become familiar with the steps of the engineering design process. The unit is designed to be motivational for student learning, so they view programming as a fun activity. This unit is the third in a series. PowerPoint® presentations, quizzes and worksheets are provided throughout the unit.