SummaryThis activity helps students understand how a motor in a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot uses electricity produced by the battery to move a robot to do useful work in the form of throwing a ball. Students relate the concepts of electricity and battery to the movement of the LEGO NXT motor and connected links.
Engineers design a wide range of electrical circuits for various electronic devices that we use everyday. Through this activity, students see how an electrical circuit is important for the flow of electricity, which ultimately powers electric devices. In the activity, students design a program to perform a particular task, which helps to cultivate in them a basic understanding of how robots can be operated via programming instructions that drive the motors.
Students should have completed the What Is a Robot? lesson to introduce them to the LEGO NXT robot and the basics of its programming.
After this activity, students should be able to:
- Explain that energy from the battery is converted from chemical energy into electrical energy, electricity, which is used to run the motors of the LEGO NXT robot, which convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, thus making the robot move.
- Program an NXT robot to move its motor so that it shoots the balls from the ring attached to the motor.
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Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science,
technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN),
a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics;
within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
- Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. (Grades 3 - 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment? Thanks for your feedback!
- Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. (Grade 4) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment? Thanks for your feedback!
- Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another. (Grade 4) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment? Thanks for your feedback!
- Describe how new technologies have helped scientists make better observations and measurements for investigations (e.g., telescopes, electronic balances, electronic microscopes, x-ray technology, computers, ultrasounds, computer probes such as thermometers) (Grade 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment? Thanks for your feedback!
Each group of two or three students needs a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT kit with software:
- LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robot, such as the NXT Base Set (5003402) for $159.98 at https://shop.education.lego.com/legoed/en-US/catalog/product.jsp?productId=5003402& isSimpleSearch=false&ProductLine=NXT
- LEGO MINDSTORMS Education NXT Software 2.1, available as a single license (2000080) for $39.97 or a site license (5003413) for $271.96 at https://shop.education.lego.com/legoed/en-US/catalog/product.jsp?productId=prod120017&isSimpleSearch=false&ProductLine=LEGO+MINDSTORMS+Education+NXT
- computer, loaded with NXT 2.1 software
The teacher needs a computer with Internet connection and a projector to be able to shows a video to the class.
This activity is part of the How Does a Robot Work? lesson. Through this activity, students implement the concepts discussed in the lesson and come to understand how electricity is crucial for the working of a robot or any electrical device.
robot: A machine that gathers information about its environment (senses) and uses that information (reads program) to follow instructions to do work (acts).
system: A group of interdependent components functioning as a unified whole; a set of methods or rules governing behavior.
Before the Activity
- Make copies of the Student Activity Sheet on slide 3 of the Activity PowerPoint.
- Either build the ball shooters prior to class for each group or allow additional activity time for the students to build them in groups.
With the Students
- Divide the class into student pairs.
- Play the following 30-second video to show students the NXT ball shoorter that they will be building: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_k8bqWySzk4
- Instructions for building the ball shooter are provided at http://www.nxtprograms.com/NXT2/ball_shooter/steps.html and in the attached PowerPoint Presentation.
- Hand out the student activity sheets.
- The main purpose of this activity is to teach students about programming. Direct students to follow the programming steps starting on slide 15.
- Keep a safe distance from the NXT robots when they are shooting the balls in the ring.
Embedded Assessment: Have students answer the three questions on the Student Activity Sheet (slide 3) as they complete the activity. As a class, discuss their answers to assess their comprehension of the subject matter.
Parker, Dave. NXT Ball Shooter. nxtprograms.com. Accessed 10/26/11. ttp://www.nxtprograms.com/NXT2/ball_shooter/steps.html
ContributorsKalyani Upendram; Ajay Nair; Satish Nair
Copyright© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2010 Curators of the University of Missouri
Supporting ProgramGK-12 Program, Computational Neurobiology Center, College of Engineering, University of Missouri
This curriculum was developed under National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. DGE 0440524. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.
Last modified: August 29, 2017