The only thing I can think of that is more fun than kids, Legos, and robots, is making and eating an ice cream Sunday while playing with kids, Legos and robots. It’s just that much fun!
We had an awesome meeting today! Lego and Robotics Academy meets each month to further the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics skills (STEM) of local kids in our area. We met with 13 club kids and 10 parents today. Several of our club kids were missing and we sure miss them when they are gone.
We started out with a short 4H”business” meeting. This helps the kids learn valuable leadership skills. We have a club president, vice president, secretary/treasurer, and a representative. They each share a few minutes about the “goings on” of the club.
LEGO WEDO ROBOTICS
Next, we had a presentation (or learning activity). Today we made the “Roaring Lion” and the “Drumming Monkey” from the Lego Education WeDo Robotics kit.
Each of the kids took turns pressing the keys on the computer to make the robotic lion and the robotic monkey operate.
Today’s focus was for the kids to get familiar with how the robots are programmed by the computer to operate. During previous meetings, the kids learned about motors, gears, axels, pulleys and more. They learned to build several projects, and a dancing birds robot. But today they learned how the computer program controls the motor speed and motor direction, senses motion, and makes sound effects. By combining these functions with the model, they were able to make the model operate.
For the lion, he was programmed to wake up and roar, then go to sleep and snore, then wake up again, roar, and eat.
A motor and an axel with two gears attached at right angles and another axel attached to the legs controlled the movement of the legs sitting up and laying down. The sound effects came from the computer. The computer powered the motor. A motion tilt sensor triggered the lion to eat. The kids made a piece of Lego “meat” to pretend the lion was eating and the computer made chomping sound effects to simulate the lion chomping on his food.
The Drumming Monkey’s arms moved because of the motor turning an axel which turned gears and another axel with two oblong shaped pieces positioned under the arms. The arms rested on these. When the axle turned them, they made the arms rise and fall. They could be positioned to cause both arms to beat at the same speed, or so that one arm beat twice as fast as the other arm.
The monkey began his show when he sensed voice activation from the student.
Lego Education WeDo Robotics makes this learning process easy and fun. They have designed a simple multi function kit that allows the kids to do 20 getting started learning activities and build 12 robotic models.
The computer program is basically grab and drop. In simple terms: the computer program is a series of blocks the kids move into place to tell the motor and sensors what to do. The motor and sensors send power to the model and feedback to the computer. The kids can adjust the model or adjust the program to reach desired results.
In the future, we will have the kids come up with their own ideas to alter to moves and sound effects of these simple robots, and we will make the Lion and Monkey function in some slightly different ways, but today we stuck with the way the WeDo curriculum has it.
DESIGN & BUILD CHALLENGE
Next we had a building competition. The kids were divided into two teams, given parent helpers, a box full of various Legos, and given a building challenge to solve.
I have so much fun coming up with these building challenges. I usually pray about it for a few weeks. Then I design a short story that shows a dilemma at Lego City. The kids then design a solution to the dilemma.
Today, they were to “upscale” a boat for the Lego City Coast Guard. They were shown a prototype, a speed boat, and were asked upscale it or resize it 2x larger.
Some math was involved. They had to count how long and how wide it was and multiply it by 2 and draw out their new boat on Lego brick paper. The prototype was 6 Lego studs wide, so they designed the new boat to be 12 studs wide. It was 20 studs long so they designed their new boat to be 12 x 40. They could use any combination of colors, but a few key features were required and you can read the description below to see more about the details.
They were asked to use several building techniques they have been learning in their Lego MBA curriculum. Techniques such as sideways building, locking, alternative use, etc. are very important skills to use in these competitions. They are asked to design their project on Lego brick paper. This is such great practice for them and helps them understand the process of working on a team to create a concept then producing an actual finished project based on their design concept. The whole process involves team work to accomplish the goal.
Both teams did a great job! Here is the actual building challenge from today:
bsp; Lego and Robotics Academy
April 17, 2012
Design & Building Challenge
The boat yard of Lego City has just received a request for a special speed boat for the Coast Guard. Lego City in the USA has been fighting crime along its shoreline and waterways, and needs a new boat that is fast, big, able to haul several agents, able to rescue boaters and fishermen in distress, and haul criminals and cargo back to shore.
Your Job: Boat Engineer TEAM
Create a BIG, useful, fast boat to help the Coast Guard of Lego City in this crisis. You must upscale the prototype boat. Draw it bigger and build it bigger! Use the Building Techniques you have learned from the Lego MBA program. The vehicle must be big enough, and able to help with the manpower needed to find missing Lego people at sea, and also haul supplies needed, to haul first aid, tools, rescue workers, and hold prisoners and cargo.
All of the needed Legos and materials to complete the challenge, are in the container provided.
You have 30 minutes to design and build your project.
1 Point Earned for using these techniques in your model. Total possible points for challenge = 6 .
Alternative Uses (using a piece in a different way than its original use)
Macro build (up scaling, increasing size to make it larger)
Locking Technique (locking two or more bricks together with one that lies across them)
Sideways Building Technique (build out to add more details and shapes)
Symmetrical Building (building a mirror image that matches on both sides)
Completed drawing on Lego Brick Paper of your design.
Take pictures as the team builds their project, and a few pictures of the completed project.
In this space, please write down the names of all the kids on Team One. Turn this in to Miss Melinda when finished.
Be sure all Lego pieces, lumber, pencils, eraser, design paper, and this completed form are returned to the container when finished. Look around on the floor to be sure you did not drop any Legos or forget anything. Thank you.
SHOW AND TELL
Next we had show and tell. The kids prepare a project at home and bring it to the meeting to share it with us. This is a great confidence booster. Many of the kids are doing very well with their public speaking skills they are practicing with show and tell.
Though the kids can bring anything related to our club for show and tell (Lego projects, Robots, Books, whatever) the majority are bringing in their Lego MBA projects they are building.
Some bring in models from the kits (1-6) and some bring in challenge models they designed using the techniques learned in Lego MBA.
I will post another story about this months show and tell, and share great pictures of all of the kids projects.
Please check out our Lego MBA stories to find out more about what we are learning with this curriculum. Also check out our other show and tell stories and club happenings from Lego and Robotics Academy to see all the great projects the kids are doing.
We ended our meeting with refreshments and social time. The kids had so much fun.
I am so thankful to all the parents who give of themselves and pitch in. I could not host these meetings without their help.
Parents help out in so many ways and it makes everything go smoothly. Parents help manage the club kids while they are learning during the meeting, they help with teams when we divide the group for projects, they bring refreshments and help the kids get something to eat and drink. They help the kids set up tables and chairs and clean up too. They also take turns watching the kids after the meeting if they want to play outside.
Each of these families have become special to me. I love them all.
A really special help for me is that several parents hold my baby, and keep the younger kids busy while I teach the class. What a blessing they are!
A special aspect of homeschooling is that the whole family does things together. So lots of kids of all ages, and all stages, are at our meetings. These are family units coming to be a part of what we are learning. In addition to kids and their parents, we also have some grandparents, and aunts and uncles attend too. How Cool Is That?
Younger kids do need extra help with lots of different things. They may need extra attention, they might need redirected, maybe they are thirsty or need help with a snack, or help going to the bathroom as they are potty training.
I was able to sneak over to the toddler area for a few minutes during the building competition, and help my three and four year olds go potty. My four year old daughter is potty trained, but I am still teaching my three year old son. I was so proud of him today. His diaper stayed dry. He pooped and peed on the potty. Then we washed and dried hands. He did great! It took me away from the main action of the meeting for a few minutes. But I am so glad I was there to praise him for a job well done.
I’m always planning! Our next meeting has a race car theme! We plan to build a ramp, a track, have a competition, and pizza! I can’t wait! One of these days we’ve got to plan an Ice Cream Sunday for our meeting!
Stay tuned for more fun filled science learning adventures with our club.
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