Students gain experience with the software/system design process, closely related to the engineering design process, to solve a problem. First, they learn about the Mars Curiosity rover and its mission, including the difficulties that engineers must consider and overcome to operate a rover remotely. Students observe a simulation of a robot being controlled remotely. These experiences guide discussion on how the design process is applied in these scenarios. The lesson culminates in a hands-on experience with the design process as students simulate the remote control of a rover. In the associated activity, students gain further experience with the design process by creating an Android application using App Inventor to control one aspect of a remotely controlled vehicle. (Note: The lesson requires a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education NXT base set.)
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
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- International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: Technology
- H. The design process includes defining a problem, brainstorming, researching and generating ideas, identifying criteria and specifying constraints, exploring possibilities, selecting an approach, developing a design proposal, making a model or prototype, testing and evaluating the design using specifications, refining the design, creating or making it, and communicating processes and results. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- I. Established design principles are used to evaluate existing designs, to collect data, and to guide the design process. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- National Science Education Standards: Science
- Creativity, imagination, and a good knowledge base are all required in the work of science and engineering. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- Communicate the problem, process, and solution. Students should present their results to students, teachers, and others in a variety of ways, such as orally, in writing, and in other forms including models, diagrams, and demonstrations. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- Science often advances with the introduction of new technologies. Solving technological problems often results in new scientific knowledge. New technologies often extend the current levels of scientific understanding and introduce new areas of research. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- Use the design process to solve a problem associated with remote sensing.
- Understand and use the basic steps in algorithmic problem-solving (that is, problem statement and exploration, examination of sample instances, design, implementation, and testing).
Lesson Background and Concepts for Teachers
|alluvial fan:||A fan- or cone-shaped deposit of sediment crossed and built up by streams. Alluvial fans are found on Mars and Earth.|
|Android device:||A mobile device with the Android operating system installed on it.|
|App Inventor:||A software program developed by MIT that allows Android apps to be created using building blocks without having to know a programming language.|
|design:||A step in the software design process involving brainstorming to create possible solutions to a challenge.|
|evolution:||A step in the software design process where the design is further explored to see if it can be made more efficient, improved on, or applied in other situations.|
|implementation:||A step in the software design process where a design is put into practice.|
|requirement analysis:||A step in the software design process where the problem is defined and parameters that frame the problem are established.|
|testing:||A step in the software design process where a design is tested to see if it solves the identified problem correctly.|
- Mars Rover App Creation - Students design mobile apps that can be used to control an aspect of a remote rover vehicle. The activity is centered on the design process and is a hands-on, problem-based learning project that is intentionally left open-ended. Students gain experience following the process that engineers would use in the development of new software applications.
- Curiosity Killed the App Rover Sim (apk)
- Rover on Mars Sim (m4v)
- Curiosity Rover and Computer Science Questions (pdf)
- Curiosity Rover and Computer Science Questions (docx)
- Curiosity Rover and Computer Science Questions Answer Key (pdf)
- Curiosity Rover and Computer Science Questions Answer Key (docx)
- Controlling the Curiosity Rover Worksheet (pdf)
- Controlling the Curiosity Rover Worksheet (docx)
- Controlling the Curiosity Rover Worksheet Answer Key (pdf)
- Controlling the Curiosity Rover Worksheet Answer Key (docx)
- Describe what you know about the engineering design/software design process. (Example answer: It is a cyclical process that is followed to accomplish a task/goal. It requires several steps including: analysis of the problem, design of a solution, implementation of the design, testing of the design, and possible extensions of the design.)
- How can you apply a design process to solving a problem? (Example answer: The design process is basically a problem solving process. After identifying and clarifying the specific problem you want to address, you dream up possible solutions and develop the most promising one. You implement and test your solution until it functions correctly.)
Lesson Embedded Assessment
- Are students following the steps of the design process?
- Are they understanding and identifying a problem to be solved?
- Were they able to devise a plan to solve the problem?
- Did they carry out their planned design?
- Explain how you applied the design process to move the robot remotely. (Example answer: The design process is cyclical in nature and this is a key idea to remember when addressing problems. First, we analyzed the problem and determined a path from point X to point Y through a terrain of craters and other rough ground to be avoided. Because our team felt that efficiency was important, we create a short path. In the design phase, we constructed steps to move the robot. We considered the problems we identified in the analysis step. For implementation, we entered the steps we designed into the Android device using instructions we received from the teacher. Testing comprised of running the program to determine if we solved the problem correctly. When the program ran, we encountered some difficulties. The rover did not drive exactly as we thought it would do to some slippage on the floor. We went back to an earlier step of the design cycle and through new observations we made, were able to make corrections to our initial design, which we implemented and tested. Finally, the rover behaved per the guidelines outlined in the initial problem. )
- Explain the steps of the design process. (Example answer: The steps of the software design process are problem analysis, design, implementation, testing and evolution. Problem analysis is an exploration of what problem is going to be solved. It includes defining the problem and setting the parameters that frame the problem. Design is the stage when you brainstorm all sorts of ideas (designs) that might possibly solve the problem. Implementation takes a design and puts it into practice. Testing makes sure that your design actually works to solve the problem. Evolution is a step where you ask if your solution could be made more efficient or improved, and consider whether it applies in other situations or could solve other problems.)
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© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2012 Board of Regents, University of Nebraska
IMPART RET Program, College of Information Science & Technology, University of Nebraska-Omaha
Last modified: October 2, 2015