An exciting new project has kept us busy in the Elementary School during our last month of School. This time we wanted to bring a robotics pilot program to our elementary school students. Our goal was to make science, technology, engineering and mathematics irresistibly FUN for the lucky students participating in the program while having a first taste on how a Robotics Program might look like next school year at BISS.
For this new pilot project, we purchased three Lego Mindstorms robotics kit, and with only one month of school left and no previous experience of my own I had to quickly figure out the best way to try out our new robots as a starting point for a more formal program next school year.
After informally approaching our wonderful teachers in the elementary school, I came across Mr. Hawke, our Grade 2 teacher, who had just started a Unit of Inquiry about “Simple Machines”. The Grade 2s were investigating how simple machines make work easier. They were looking into the form and function of the lever, screw, inclined plane, wheel and axle, wedge and pulley. What a perfect opportunity to introduce these no-so-simple machines as an extension of the Grade 2s enquiry! After considering some pros an cons we decided to venture into this brand new world for us, and give the Grade 2s the challenge of building the robots and seeing what they can do.
The students worked in teams to build the kits according to the instructions and undertook different roles such as instructor, finder, builder, checker and helper.
Given the complexity of the task, the teams have done a great job in constructing the robots and programming them to perform simple functions. Here are a few of the achievements of this very young group of students:
- Students have been challenged to think like scientists and engineers since they have learnt how to build a robot from scratch, and program it.
- Students have explored basic computer programming maneuvers and learnt how to use the servomotors and the four main LEGO sensors: light, ultrasonic, touch and sound.
- Along the way they have developed skills in cooperation, through sharing roles and helping one another.
The last day of school Grade 2s performed an Open Floor Demonstration where they had to show their newly acquired skills and apply them to solve missions that simulate real-life engineering problems.
After one month of intense work, I believe that we have successfully introduced Grade 2s to the fun and excitement of science and technology while building self-confidence, knowledge, vocabulary and life-skills.
Well done boys and girls!
Open floor demonstration:
The line follower: In this challenge students created a robot that follows a line on the ground . They had to use one light sensor to sense where the line is. The objective was to complete the course tracking the course line from start to finish.
The Sumo challenge: The goal is to push the other robot out of an hexagonal ring or flip it upside down. Students needed to program the robot using a light sensor and an ultrasonic sensor (optional).