Here’s a a great lesson for the more confident amongst us courtesy of our Italian partners.
Overview: Learners build small robots with pieces of LegoNext allowing them to understand the basic principles of programming and mechanics. Strict logic is used to plan a machine that will then be available and used by children through the Lego interface that merges easy to use pieces and versatility. The patterns that will be suggested will be specifically studied to maintain high interest level in children, succeeding in transferring programming and construction processes which will then be assimilated during the game. This specific software is made for simplifying programming for younger people. Programming becomes a simple activity of putting blocks of codes together to create a program, just like Lego blocks make a Robot.
This software is quite easy if you’ve used similar software before. After an hour or so most users are able to create programs that turn wheels, move cars, or allow an element to follow a path through sensors.
Description: Teachers will ask students to create small robots using Lego Next which are specifically thought to help understand the basic principles of the construction and programming. The projects will include various levels of difficulty in order to allow everyone to understand and slowly become experts of programming and construction. Learners will be guided in this escalation of planning and realization by the teachers, who will have electronic cards to show the children the different pieces available.
First, the teacher shows an example on how to create a minirobot and then the children are free to explore and try it out.
If the class is particularly motivated the teacher can ask the students to try out the software without any demo, using their creativity and fantasy.
Children should be divided into teams of 3 or 4 components; the group should be supervised but left alone to decide who does what.
4 to 5 kits – educational license is sufficient.
Ask learners to complete any of the following: create a remote controlled robot, complete a maze, create a robot which hits obstacles with coloured balls, create a robot which avoids obstacles, create robots which follow different coloured lines, etc
What do I need? A Lego next kit every four children, a PC every four children, projector and PC for the teacher
Lego Next (NTX-G), BricX e LeJos. The best kits suggested are LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 ed il LEGO MINDSTORMS Education NXT Base Set.
Added value: This activity gives concrete tasks for planning and problem solving. Robots are present in our everyday life so this activity allows students to think of elements present in their life. Besides the software the students will be challenged with all physical elements of the real world. Therefore the students will operate in a 3D environment with all its challenges. They are encouraged to plan efficiently, solve complex problems and work with algorithms.
Hints and tips: It could be easier to build a minirobot with the whole class before dividing the class into groups.
It is helpful if the groups exchange information in order to have the best solution to each problem. Learning from peers is helpful also!
Many ideas on which robots to create or which problems to be solved are available on the internet.
Be careful when dividing the class into groups; natural leaders should not all be grouped together. A primary goal for this activity is for learners work in teams. Keep a collaborative feeling between the groups and try not to promote competition.
Lego is an established company and usually develops new elements/components which enrich the previous products so that the when the school purchases pieces the kits they already have do not become obsolete.
Other lessons on how to use the kit or for programming can be found or shared with colleagues online at: http://community.legoeducation.us/blogs
Safety: There are no safety issues relating to this software
Other opportunities to use the same software:
- Older learners can try to use Bricx Command Center which is open source and allows them to program elements in a programming environment very similar to C language programming.