Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lego Robots, Programming & Challenges, Oh My!

Getting ready to attempt the "Homing Pigeon," 
where the robot has to travel to the
black line, turn 180 degrees
and return to start.

8th Grade Computer Science Students at Simmons Middle School spent the week facing a myriad of challenges designed by their teacher Cindi Morris to test their robot building AND programming skills as a culmination of their LEGO robotics unit. They worked as 3-4 person teams to build LEGO Ev3 robots containing specific characteristics, sensors and parts with the goal of competing against the other teams in a sort-of classroom robot Olympics. I know what you are thinking... "Lego robots? How complicated and technical can those really be?" Well, visit this link and you can see a sampling of what these 3rd generation Lego Robots can do. Mrs. Morris, designed several unique challenges for the robots to complete from "Running the Bases" where the robot had to move around all the bases of a baseball diamond using its color sensor to "Curling," a challenge where the robot had to push a tennis ball to a precise mark on a target. Each challenge presented an opportunity for the students to apply their programming skills and accomplish the task with bragging rights on the line. Each team got 3 attempts at each challenge and there were lots of successes...and failures. Many wrote programs that had their robots moving too fast, turning too sharply or not responding appropriately to obstacles, leading the teams to problem solve and refine their programs. They all discovered the unique complexities of programming robots and realized that in order for success to be had, embracing failure is a key to learning, growing and moving forward. But regardless of their outcome at a specific challenge, they all learned a great deal about programming, innovating, problem-solving, failure and perseverance. To check out more of what the students had to do for this activity, visit their class blog.
These two are programming their robot after an
unsuccessful attempt at the Curling Challenge.

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