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Robotics: Making Computer Science and Engineering Come Alive! ISTE 2010: TP426L. Lego Education Booth #632. Christopher Michaud Paulding County Public Schools Dallas, Georgia [email protected] Overview. Build Program Experiment Apply.

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Robotics making computer science and engineering come alive iste 2010 tp426l l.jpg

Robotics: Making Computer Science and Engineering Come Alive!ISTE 2010: TP426L

Lego Education

Booth #632

Christopher Michaud

Paulding County Public Schools

Dallas, Georgia

[email protected]

Overview l.jpg
Overview Alive!

  • Build

  • Program

  • Experiment

  • Apply

Objectives l.jpg
Objectives Alive!

  • Build Basic Vehicle Robot from directions

  • Using NXT-G software

  • Distance, Direction, Duration

  • Sensors

  • Missions

  • Application to Math and Science Standards

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Why Programming and Robotics? Alive!

  • Programming allows students to encode and reflect on sequential and logical thought in a dynamic system.

  • Real applications of math concepts

    • Distance, Direction, Duration

    • Boolean Concepts

  • Develops Technological Fluency

What is a robot l.jpg
What is a Robot? Alive!

A Robot is a machine that can be programmed to do a task without being directly controlled by a human being.  

There are two parts to a robotic system.

  • Hardware: This is the mechanical robot. The motors, gears, wheels, parts, computers that make up the machine.  This is the part you build.

  • Software:  This is the instructions for the tasks and actions the robot will do.  This is the part you write.MINDSTORMS NXT is used to create the software that controls the actions of the robot hardware.  NXT MINDSTORMS software is a visual/icon system of assembling instructions.  The flow of direction usually moves from left to right.  This software is an example of a compiled program.  Programs you write in NXT must be compiled and downloaded to the NXT Brick before the Robot will perform the program.  (Scratch and Python are "Interpreted Languages.")

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Why Robotics? Alive!

  • Humans are creators and builders

    • We like to “Give Life” to objects

  • Robotics embody logical thought in action through time in the real world

    • “See” our thoughts in action and reaction

  • Robotics will continue to play bigger roles in human society

  • They are cool!

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Hierarchy of Technology Skills Alive!

1. Passive Reception: From creator to receiver with no action on receiver to alter flow of content. (watching a video)

2. Active Research: From creator to receiver with receiver selecting path and specific points of content. (Surfing the web)

3. Interactive 1 way: From creator to receiver through game model.  Receiver must master a skill to progress through activity. (Skill and Drill)

4. Communication / Expression: User creates content and art with technology.    Verbal / Text    Images    Plot    Web

5. Interactive 2 way: creator and users interact. (Email, Blogs, Multi-User Virtual Environments)

6. Data manipulation and Analysis: User uses computer to interact and manipulate the content and data.

7. Software creation / programming: Users encodes logical thought and algorithms into computer. User tells computer what to do. Provides platforms and engines for above skill sets.

8. Hardware creation: User designs and assembles hardware to run, input, display software.

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“The Big Trends” Alive!

  • Transportation

    • Sailing Ships, Railroads, Automobiles, Airplanes

  • Encoding and Moving Human Thought

    • Written Language, Printing Press, Internet, Web Browser

  • Web 2.0, Small Handheld Computing- Automation of Moving Human Thought

  • Next Innovation - Automation of Transportation - Robotics

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Robot Base Alive!

  • Easy to Build

  • Stable, Symmetrical, and Strong

  • Flexible for different projects

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Sources for Robot Plans Alive!






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NXT-G Programming Tutorials Alive!


Nxt g programming l.jpg

Input (Sensors) Alive!





Many others






NXT-G Programming

  • Processing

    • Logic

    • Math

    • Conditionals

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Basic NXT-G Programming Alive!Movement/Motor Blocks (Output)

Movement Blocks direct motors A, B, or C to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise.  The motors have sensors inside them that can measure how much they rotate.  Motors C and B usually are used for the drive wheels on a vehicle Robot.   You may change the following variables on a motor on the details window.

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Programming Challenges! Alive!

  • Drive a Rectangle Activity:


  • Maze #2

  • Distance and Turns Worksheets

  • Maze #1

  • Basic Line Following


  • “Cap the Well” Activity

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Touch Alive!



NXT-G ProgrammingSensors (Input)

Many Others:






Nxt g programming 3 types of conditionals logic l.jpg

Wait Block Alive!

NXT-G Programming3 Types of Conditionals (Logic)

Nxt g programming 3 types of conditionals logic17 l.jpg

Switch Block Alive!

NXT-G Programming3 Types of Conditionals (Logic)

Nxt g programming 3 types of conditionals logic18 l.jpg

Loop Block Alive!

NXT-G Programming3 Types of Conditionals (Logic)

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Missions Alive!

  • Basic Types:

    • Follow a Course

    • Go and Get

    • Go and Do

    • Go and Put

    • Go and Stay

  • Try to Relate Missions to real world problems. (Example: First Lego League themes like transportation, energy, biology)

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Curriculum Integration Alive!

  • Examples:

    • Algebra Worksheets with Distance and Turns

    • Simple Machines

    • Lego Renewable Energy Add On Set

    • Vernier Sensons (

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Robot Missions and Activities Alive!

  • Robot Dancing

  • Soccer

  • Rescue Missions (Go and Get)

  • Avoid Obstacles

  • Climb over Obstacles

  • Animal Simulations

  • Machines

  • Factory Simulations

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First Lego League Alive!

  • Part of FIRST program created by Dean Kamen

  • Inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology.

  • Local, Regional, State, World Tournaments

  • Research Project, Technical Design, Robot Game, Teamwork

  • Website:

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OK - I am starting a Robotics Program! Now What Do I need? Alive!

  • Area for Robot Missions

  • Storage for Robots

  • Plans for what you want students to accomplish

  • Robots and Software

  • Computers

Area for robot missions l.jpg
Area for Robot Missions Alive!

  • First Lego League Table

    • Plans:

  • Poster board and tape

  • Commercial Robot Mats (from Lego)

Storage for robots l.jpg
Storage for Robots Alive!

  • Sterolite 64 Quart Plastic Tub with Lid

    • Holds Lego Kit Box and finished robots

    • See into box

    • Stackable

    • Transport Robots

  • Available at Wal-Mart

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Plans for Students Alive!

  • Carnegie Mellon Robotics Curriculum


  • Robot-C:

  • Classroom Activities for the Busy Teacher: NXT



  • Ortop Video Curriculum




  • Make up your own!

Types of robots in education l.jpg

Myro (Parallax Scribbler): Alive!

Advantages:Open source (free) IDE kit. Python (text) based programming

Disadvantages:Not a flexible Hardware Platform, Difficult to keep bluetooth connections consistent. Hard to find to purchase


Types of Robots in Education

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Pico-Crickets: Alive!

Advantages:Appeal to younger children and girls. More Arts and Crafts/ Creativity. More sensors. Software (Pico Blocks) is free.

Disadvantages:Not as high ceiling Not as open projects.


Types of Robots in Education

Lego robots in education l.jpg

Lego We-Do Robotics System Alive!

Advantages:Widely used in Education. Suitable for Younger ChildrenSimple building plansCan work with Free Software (Scratch)

Disadvantages:Not a stand alone Robotics System (must stay plugged into USB Port on Computer)Limited Building possibilitiesLimited SensorsOnly one motor


Lego Robots in Education

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Lego Minstorms NXT: Alive!

Advantages:Widely used in Education. Many available parts and building combinations. FLL tournament. Wide variety of books and websites with plans and programs. Can be programmed in Robot C, Labview, or NXT-G.

Disadvantages:Must pay for software (not open source). Robotics kits and software more expensive. Graphic based NXT-G can be difficult to learn. Windows only for Robot C


Lego Robots in Education

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Tetrix Building System: Alive!

Suitable for advanced High School Robotics in Lab setting.

Required detailed building.

Integrates with Lego Mindstorms Robot Kit.

Used in First Tech Competition.


Lego Robots in Education

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Computers (NXT-G) Alive!

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Mac OS X

Open Source (Linux)



Scratch (We-Do)

Software (Lego NXT)



Robot C

Other Software (Non Lego Robots)


Lejos (Java)

Scratch (We Do)

Computers and Software

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Special Thanks To: Alive!

ISTE 2010 for providing the computer lab.

Lego Education US for providing the robots for the workshop and software for the lab.

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Parting Links Alive!

  • [email protected] -> email me questions any time!



  • ISTE Post Workshop Survey