|Grade span:||8 to 12|
|Duration:||Multiple 60-minute sessions, twice a week; depending on the difficulty of the activity as well as experience level of instructor and students. Projects could require several weeks to complete.|
Description:Afterschool students are excited to come to class because they are using LEGOs to build robotic machines. Working in pairs they learn that robotics go beyond scary cinema creatures to carefully engineered constructions that make positive contributions to society. After they learn basic construction techniques, they create their own robotic inventions with practical functions of interest to them. This lesson provides some ideas for setting up a LEGO lab classroom, introducing students to robotics, and leading students in their first construction.
- Apply practical math and scientific concepts while learning design, mechanical construction, and computer programming.
- Learn to read and follow directions carefully.
- Visualize, think, and problem solve in a three dimensional perspective.
- Discover properties and use of basic electronic light, rotation, touch, and temperature sensors.
- Choose and purchase a LEGO system that is age appropriate and suitable to your budget. To help make this investment choice, see these reviews in the Consumer Guide for Afterschool Science Resources
- Storage space-- If you are familiar with LEGO building sets, you know there are hundreds of pieces to organize and store. Therefore, having a secure place to store student projects and parts is essential. Experience suggests an investment in some type of storage cabinet with multiple drawers for organizing all parts.
- Work space -- Most of the projects require small group work, up to four in a group. Therefore, you will need a workspace with tables and chairs that will accommodate small group work. For the first session, a large table in center of room with several boxes and trays holding a variety of LEGO blocks, wheels, rods, and gadgets will be needed.
- Assistants or volunteers--Experienced instructors suggest one instructor or teaching assistant for every two teams. Teams can vary in size from two to four students. Collaborations among instructors and students are encouraged. Once students become experienced, they can serve as instructor assistants.
- Sheets of white paper and colored pencils for drawing
- One computer with Internet access with projection to large screen or interactive whiteboard
- Study the LEGO Teacher Guide for a clear understanding of the project and process you have chosen.
- Create a "Parts Inventory" of LEGO pieces in a Word document.
- Decide how students will be paired for the activity.
What to Do:Introduce the activity. What is a robot?
- Engage students by asking them what they think a robot is. Discuss what students know and believe about robots.
- Distribute paper and colored pencils.
- Ask students to draw a picture of a robot or robots using their imaginations.
- After students have completed their drawings, ask them to look at the robots they have drawn and consider the following questions:
- How does your robot move?
- Does it have arms? If so, does it have joints? Where?
- Does it have any other moving pieces? How and where do they move?
- Does your robot have a purpose?
- As students start to think differently about their drawings, walk around the room and talk to each student individually, asking more questions about their drawings.
- Ask students to think like an engineer or a scientist would think – more analytical and in more detail than they might normally think.
- Using the pictures previously bookmarked online, use computer with projection to show students a variety of advanced robots. Ask students how they think these robots move and are powered. Ask students to visualize how their own arms, hands, legs, and feet move.
- Ask students to look at their robot drawings again and think more about their designs.
- Have students share what they might do differently now that they have seen pictures of other robots.
- With your LEGO "Parts Inventory" projected for all students to see, explain that as a scientist or engineer, it is important to have tools and parts in the laboratory well organized and neat. Even though this class might not have a cabinet with drawers for each kind of piece, which would be ideal, there are bins for the different sizes and types of blocks, beams, plates, wheels, connector plugs, gears, axles, sensors, and lamps.
- Show students all the different parts as you talk and explain the organization of your classroom laboratory.
- Explain they will work in pairs and will share responsibility for gathering necessary parts, keeping track of those parts, and returning them to their project bin with project instructions.
- Put students in teams of two for this project.
- Have students collect their materials from the parts trays.
- After collecting materials and reading the instructions, students begin to build their beginning project.
- As students complete this introductory project, look at what they’ve made together as a class. Discuss what practical functions it might have in society.
- Ask how computer automations would improve their project.
- Ask students what they learned as a result of this first effort and what they will do differently on their next LEGO project.
- Emphasize the importance of reading carefully and visualizing thoughtfully.
- Teacher guides, lesson plans, curriculum, worksheets, and video examples in various LEGO sets, which you can obtain from commercial publishers and the Internet, provide hours, if not years, of projects for students and teachers interested in technology and engineering.
- More advanced projects utilize motorized levers, gears, and pulleys as well as multiple types of sensors, and advanced computer programming.
- Local and national robotic competitions will challenge students’ problem solving, practical math, scientific, mechanical construction, and computer programming skills.
Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):Students will:
- Read and follow directions.
- Assemble a working robotic arm.
- Work responsibly with a teammate.
- Recognize the difference between a robot and robotics.
Click this link to see additional learning goals, grade-level benchmarks, and standards covered in this lesson.
Learn More:For more information and ideas to support this lesson, see the Resources page.