From ASIMO to R2-D2 to NAO, students love robots! Fortunately, robotic systems that offer students hands-on experiences have become much more available in the past few years. There are a number of systems I have used in classrooms or taught teachers to use in their classrooms that help students successfully learn a wide range of skills and subject matter while they have fun tinkering with a robot.
For preschool and kindergarten, I use Bee-Bot robots. These are simple robots that look like friendly bees. They have buttons on the top that can be used to program movements such as going forward and backward, turning in 90 degree rotations and coming to a stop. These robots can be used with synchronized floor mats that support learning in math, science and language arts through games and maps. Young students are attracted to how fun these robots are and they learn problem solving and critical thinking skills as they interact with them.
For elementary grades, I use the LEGO® WeDo Lego robotic system. WeDo includes bricks that look like the regular LEGO® bricks which are combined with working motors and sensors. Students begin by building their robots and then they program them by adding input and output. For example, one of the kinds of robots they can build is an alligator that has a motion sensor in its open mouth. If something moves near the alligator’s mouth, the jaws close. They can also record their voices and have the robot make noises as it moves.
For late elementary and junior and senior high students, I use LEGO® MINDSTORMS EV3. This amazing robotic system can play sounds, connect to computers via WiFi, and it has motion sensors, colour sensors, pressure sensors, a gyroscope and an ultrasonic sensor that enables it to gather information from the environment and act upon it. It has its own “brick” that is a small computer. This brick also has a display that students can load images into. These robots can even be programmed to gather data while performing tasks. Students begin the process by building their own robots and then learn how to program in a very hands-on manner with the LEGO® MINDSTORMS app. More advanced students can learn how to use C programming language with this system. MINDSTORMS offers so many possibilities! Some students have even used it to create robots that can solve a Rubik’s cube.
There are so many concepts that can be covered through robotics. An example of this is an activity I have led students and teachers in where they create robots in teams that are designed to engage in “sumo” wrestling! The two robots face off against each other and try to push each other out of a designated ring. Through this activity, participants learn teamwork, programming, math, problem-solving, and scientific concepts such as the centre of gravity and the impact of friction. Plus, they have a great time creating their robot wrestlers!
Whether for teachers or students, I can lead workshops for any grade level or experience level. I have kits that I can bring along that you can borrow for the duration of the workshop, or we can use any kits that you already have (including MINDSTORMS NXT). I should add that I don’t sell these products. I would recommend ordering hardware and software from Brault & Bouthillier if you are looking for a source. Robotics offers a fantastic range of possibilities for learning, and I can help you get started with it!
To book a workshop with Dominic, please use the form on the Contact Me section of this site or call 315-464-0540.