TO LEGO ROBOTICS!
Middle School, Room 142
. Textbooks/References: There
are no formal textbooks used in this course. However, a number of online
references may be useful:
Instructors: Margaret Burns/ Jonathan Dietz
2. Software: All required software exists on the school
desktop computers. However, students may wish to also download software
for home use and review from the following sources:
Course Objectives-Lego EV3 Robotics:
superficial level, this course aims to guide students in learning the
basics of mechanical engineering, design, and computer programming,
with an understanding of such concepts as:
worm, and bevel gears
lamps, and sensors
and data manipulation
structures- loops, forks, subroutines
the course aims for students to learn to think like engineers- to learn
to break down complex problems into simpler, solvable blocks; to model
and describe what they want something to do; to see failure as an essential
opportunity to learn rather than as a judgement upon their ability.
Robotics system offers an opportunity for students to express themselves
through a mixture of science, engineering,story-telling, and art, the
type of integrative skill that will be essential in the 21st century.
include research, and writing skills; and greater confidence in presentation
and public speaking.
students should enjoy themselves and take real delight in all that they
do; should see learning not as a chore for others but as play and exploration
for its own sake. In education, curiosity and passion is paramount.
Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, On Finding Out What You Love
are encouraged NOT to bring in Lego parts from home, unless they are
willing to to contribute them to the common Lego pool.
Organizing and Storing Parts
student pair will be issued a storage bin containing a mini-kit consisting
of the NxT or EV3 brick, motors, wheels, sensors, wires, and an organizer.
projects will be stored in a cabinet which permits charging of the
batteries when not in use.
bins of common parts will contain similar types of components, such
bins on carts will contain specialty plastic and electronic parts.
Setting Up Groups-
will work with a partner on all assignments. For final project, two
groups may work in coodination if two robots are produced
which interact, using Bluetooth communication or other means.
Instruction/Discussion: In the first few minutes, there often
be a 10 minute period of formalized instruction and/or discussion- the
introduction of a new challenge activity; a short demonstration; a video
clip, or a discussion. Students are expected to gather at the carpeted
area in the front of the room for this instructional period.
Period: Most classes will have a 20-30 minute work period,
when students will work on their programming and building projects.
Students are encouraged to ask each other for assistance.
Students are expected to clean-up independently. Clean-up means picking
all pieces off the floor; returning unused parts to the bins, placing
the projects back in the storage cabinet for charging.
Thought and Dismissal: When parts are cleaned up and students
have returned to their tables and are quiet, there will often be a brief
reflection, then students will be dismissed from their seats.
Class. If you are absent, it is your responsibility to find
out from your partner what was missed.
cooperatively and safely with your partner on project work, and exchange
responsibilities , clean up, and complete assignments.
no formal paper-and-pencil tests or required homework in this course.
There will, however, be frequent short written exercises and programs,
construction activities, as well as open-ended design challenges.
journal will be kept of major projects, either using traditional methods
or video journaling using I-Movie.
to work and contribute as part of a team, both within one's own group
and as part of the larger classroom community is a major objective of
this course. Helping other students will earn extra points; disrupting
the work of others will cause a loss of points.
projects may include a city/transportation system model, miniature golf
range, and or amusement park, all of which will emphasize system design.
9. Rules for Classroom Behavior:
Lego Robotics laboratory, we work to maintain a positive, respectful
work environment. This includes respect for the dignity of others, respect
for their creations, respect for materials, and most importantly, perhaps,
respect for their right to take intellectual risks.
of respect means that we comply with safety/behavior rules; keep hands,
feet, and objects to ourselves. and help each other to clean up. Students
are dismissed when their projects have been put away and all pieces
have been picked up off the floor.
who repeatedly disrupt the learning of others, or behave in an unsafe
manner, may need to be removed from class. It will be your responsibility
to arrange to make up, within five school-days, any work missed as a
result. Missed work that is not made up will receive a grade of zero.
are based upon completion of design challenges (which include planning,
building, programming, and presentation components), effort, and attitude.
A well-researched, well-explained 'failure' is worth more than a poorly
understood, poorly explained 'success'.
of grading in this class is not to rank students but
rather formative- to inform instruction and study- to indicate what
assignments have been completed, what may have to be re-taught, and
which require additional work. Work which is not of adequate quality
will be marked as 'incomplete'.
For students with extensive prior experience in programming, there are optional 'challenge' assignments to help you stretch.
If your have any concern that you wish to discuss, or have any requests
or suggestions towards improving your child’s learning, please
don’t hesitate to contact us.
Telephone Messages: (781) 786-5695( Mr. Dietz); (781) 786-( Mrs. Burns)
Hours: After School, 3 PM-4 PM. Please confirm appointment during class
or by e-mail.
the era of standardized testing, I think we are losing sight of the
main goal of education in my mind—to teach students how to learn
on their own. We need to teach students how to be curious and ask a
question, how to frame the question, how to research the question, how
to validate their answer to the question, and how to communicate that
answer to others. This has little to do with the content and a lot to
do with the approach. ... There is nothing more rewarding than having
a group of middle school students come back to the classroom during
recess so that they can further investigate the complexities of torque
or energy transfer (a common occurrence in Barbara’s class). That
is when you know things are going right. Students (of all ages) should
be excited to go to school and learn—…”
Rogers, Tufts Center for Engineering Education Outreach, in Introduction
to Physics by Design by Barbara Bratzel
“Especially at the
elementary school level, children’s curiosity needs to be kept
alive. That’s always my biggest goal….”
video games, kids will go back and do it a hundred times. They'll fail
until they win...Failure in an acdemic environment is depressing. Failure
in a video game is completely aspirational..."
York Times 9/19/10,"Video
Games Win a Beachhead in the Classroom"
students face challenges, failure is not only an ongoing event, it is
neccessary. When you start from scratch, never having experienced
working with robots, you learn by doing. There is no one 'Right Way'-
there is only finding your way to a solution that hopefully works.
If not- can you describe the specific problem and suggest some kind of
possible solution? This is the working model of how we teach. Playing
with ideas without dread of failure opens up the way. And so, when failure
is necessary, and not to be taken personally, something wonderful happens.
Kids start to have fun.
described in the Times article, one student said that to be good, the
fun had to be "hard fun". In other words, not too easy, not
times, classes in Robotics may seem somewhat disorderly. Students are
seen running about, building different versions of projects, customizing
their programs to control their robots in different ways, even arguing
over their designs. Yet this very disorder, within limits, is essential
if students are to take ownership of their work.
Daniel Pink, in his book Drive,
on human motivation ,writes, "...the secret to high performance and
satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply
human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and
to do better by ourselves and our world...."
is our job as teachers: to support your children's natural sense of curiosity
and the basic human drive for