The Lego Education
WeDo kit provides a fascinating opportunity in simple robotics and
programming for young students. The kit has 12 activities that introduce
valuable science and engineering concepts like pulley setups and gear
trains and ratios, and makes them approachable and interactive with the
sensors, motors, and software. Like with all Lego kits, the
possibilities are endless. Here are a few extra ideas that can inspire
you and your students.
The Pulley Crane The crane is a machine
that is easy to identify with because it is frequently seen in real
life, from construction work on large buildings to cherry pickers saving
cats. It is also a very basic mechanical system that builds upon some
of the provided WeDo activities
Behind The build - The WeDo Crane is
powered by the motor that drives a long rod like a crank shaft.The rod
winds the black string from the kit around it when it turns, while the
string follows an angled beam and is attached to a small platform. As
the string is wound up and down, the platform moves up and down.
Thinking further - Are there other
ways you can lift the platform? Maybe using a different kind of string,
or a different driving mechanism will help (using the rubber bands
somehow). How heavy or large can you make the platform, and can you use
the gears in any way to lift a heavier load? Don’t forget to give your
Lego man a hard hat before trying any of this!
The Catapult Exactly as it sounds,
the Lego catapult is a simple machine for launching small objects as far
as you can with a lot of fun, and a lot of learning.
Behind the Build - The mechanism is
fairly simple. There is a securely anchored base with a freely rotating
rod in the middle, to which a long lever arm is attached. Also attached
to the base are two rubber bands that the lever arm is pressed down on
in tension when loaded, and a rod that stops the catapult arm after
launched. The rubber bands are part of the launching mechanism, which is
kept in place by the motor. When the motor runs, the hold on the arm is
released and the rubber bands launch the catapult, and the stopping rod
enables the object to fly as far as possible.
Thinking Further - What changes can be
made to the catapult that will affect how far an object is launched?
Kids can experiment with the length of the lever arm, or the placement
of the stopping rod. Is there a different way to power the catapult with
rubber bands? Don’t be afraid to let kids engage in friendly
competition, just make sure no one take a Lego to the eye.
The Venus Fly Trap
The Venus fly trap is a
fascinating plant that traps bugs in its petals like jaws and eats them
for food. Using a motion sensor, the WeDo Venus fly trap will close its
Lego petals if someone places there hand inside, and opens them again
if there prey manages to escape.
Behind the Build - This is the most
difficult of the three builds, but also arguably the coolest. The motor
feeds into the worm gear in the worm gear box. The worm gear rotates a
24 tooth gear sitting on top in the horizontal perpendicular direction.
This horizontal rod has a gear on the end that is part of 4 gear train,
made up the 8 tooth gears and the bevel 24 tooth gears. The two gears at
either end of the train have a long rod going through them, and because
it is made up of four gears, they move in the opposite direction. The
rest of the structure is constructed to hold the gear train setup up,
and the Venus fly trap petals are built onto the rotating rods to help
simulate an opening and closing motion. A motion sensor is mounted
vertically in the middle of the petals, in order to detect any food that
comes in reach.
This activity is challenging, but also allows for more personal
creativity in both building and programming.