Hands-on Activity: NXT Ball Shooter

Contributed by: GK-12 Program, Computational Neurobiology Center, College of Engineering, University of Missouri

Quick Look

Grade Level: 5 (4-7)

Time Required: 45 minutes

Expendable Cost/Group: US $0.00

This activity uses non-expendable (reusable) LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robot kits and software; see the Materials List for details.

Group Size: 2

Activity Dependency:

Subject Areas: Science and Technology

A LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 robot car.
A LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 robot.
copyright
Copyright © Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NXT_mindstorm.jpg

Summary

This 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. **Note: This activity uses the retired LEGO NXT robot which is no longer available for purchase.
This engineering curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

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.

Learning Objectives

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.

Educational Standards

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.

NGSS Performance Expectation

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 )

Do you agree with this alignment?

This activity focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process, or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

Alignment agreement:

Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints). The success of a designed solution is determined by considering the desired features of a solution (criteria). Different proposals for solutions can be compared on the basis of how well each one meets the specified criteria for success or how well each takes the constraints into account.

Alignment agreement:

People's needs and wants change over time, as do their demands for new and improved technologies.

Alignment agreement:

View other curriculum aligned to this performance expectation
NGSS Performance Expectation

Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. (Grade 4 )

Do you agree with this alignment?

This activity focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Make observations to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence for an explanation of a phenomenon or test a design solution.

Alignment agreement:

Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects or through sound, light, or electric currents.

Alignment agreement:

Energy is present whenever there are moving objects, sound, light, or heat. When objects collide, energy can be transferred from one object to another, thereby changing their motion. In such collisions, some energy is typically also transferred to the surrounding air; as a result, the air gets heated and sound is produced.

Alignment agreement:

Light also transfers energy from place to place.

Alignment agreement:

Energy can also be transferred from place to place by electric currents, which can then be used locally to produce motion, sound, heat, or light. The currents may have been produced to begin with by transforming the energy of motion into electrical energy.

Alignment agreement:

Energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects.

Alignment agreement:

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NGSS Performance Expectation

Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another. (Grade 4 )

Do you agree with this alignment?

This activity focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Apply scientific ideas to solve design problems.

Alignment agreement:

Energy can also be transferred from place to place by electric currents, which can then be used locally to produce motion, sound, heat, or light. The currents may have been produced to begin with by transforming the energy of motion into electrical energy.

Alignment agreement:

The expression "produce energy" typically refers to the conversion of stored energy into a desired form for practical use.

Alignment agreement:

Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints). The success of a designed solution is determined by considering the desired features of a solution (criteria). Different proposals for solutions can be compared on the basis of how well each one meets the specified criteria for success or how well each takes the constraints into account.

Alignment agreement:

Energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects.

Alignment agreement:

Engineers improve existing technologies or develop new ones.

Alignment agreement:

Most scientists and engineers work in teams.

Alignment agreement:

Science affects everyday life.

Alignment agreement:

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  • The development of technology is a human activity and is the result of individual and collective needs and the ability to be creative. (Grades 6 - 8 ) More Details

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    Do you agree with this alignment?

  • 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 ) More Details

    View aligned curriculum

    Do you agree with this alignment?

Suggest an alignment not listed above

Materials List

Each group of two or three students needs a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT kit with software:

The teacher needs a computer with Internet connection and a projector to be able to shows a video to the class.

Worksheets and Attachments

Visit [www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/umo_robotsandhumans_act2] to print or download.

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Pre-Req Knowledge

Students should have completed the What Is a Robot? lesson to introduce them to the LEGO NXT robot and the basics of its programming.

Introduction/Motivation

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.

Procedure

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

Vocabulary/Definitions

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.

Assessment

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.

Safety Issues

  • Keep a safe distance from the NXT robots when they are shooting the balls in the ring.

References

Parker, Dave. NXT Ball Shooter. nxtprograms.com. Accessed 10/26/11. ttp://www.nxtprograms.com/NXT2/ball_shooter/steps.html

Contributors

Kalyani Upendram; Ajay Nair; Satish Nair

Copyright

© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2010 Curators of the University of Missouri

Supporting Program

GK-12 Program, Computational Neurobiology Center, College of Engineering, University of Missouri

Acknowledgements

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: March 11, 2019

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