Crossing the Gap is a free-form robotics activity that requires a minimal amount of setup. It is an excellent choice for novices, but can also present a challenge to experienced students. The idea for this activity came from an earlier post.
One of our after-school robotics classes recently completed this unit – check out the video to see the results!
Our basic lesson outline is as follows:
Build a robot that can safely cross the gap between two desks. The gap starts at 15 cm, and will increase by 5 cm each time your robot reaches the other side.
Two desks (or other movable raised surfaces) and a soft floor! A large ruler should be on hand to set tables to specific distances.
Warning: Robots WILL hit the ground during this activity. Take steps to minimise damage.
- There are no instructions or examples provided.
- No human assistance is allowed.
- Students operate with limited parts (a single MINDSTORMS kit) and time (as defined by teacher).
- All Robots must start ENTIRELY on one table.
- Robots must cross the gap to reach the other table, then stop without falling off!
- Robots can use any method to cross the gap.
- Each student begins the exercise with a gap of 15 cm (approx. 6 inches).
- After each success, the student expands their gap by 5 cm (approx 2 inches).
- All students work on their own gap, making individual progress.
Design and Planning
Whilst students are not given instructions for this activity, a teacher can choose to pose the following questions to the help the design process:
- Where is the robot’s tipping point?
- Will the robot always need to support both ends during a crossing?
- Will the robot always need at least one wheel in contact with a table?
- How can the robot be designed to handle increasing gaps?
- Will the robot be all-in-one unit, or will it use a tool?
After providing the information above, let the students begin. Teachers should display a countdown so students are aware of the remaining challenge time.
An enthusiastic class will race to see the largest gap that can be crossed!
I hope you find this useful.
“Project Bucephalus” Coach