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Iteration, collaboration, and documentation

Iteration, collaboration, and documentation are integral parts of engineering design. This challenge is intended to provide students with an opportunity to develop their understanding and appreciation of these important ideas.

To run this activity, first divide the class into at least three different groups.

Stage 1

  • Challenge each group to create a robot to meet a particular need. For example, create a robot that can help you around the house.
  • Take one hour to create a prototype, and write a short description of what the purpose of the robot is.
  • After the one hour is complete, take pictures of the robot, and save the first version of the code, ensure it is clearly labeled.

Stage 2

  • Rotate to a different robot, and use 30 minutes to make the design better or add functionality.
  • Make a copy of the code with a new name and modify that so that the code for each iteration is saved.
  • Take pictures of and document the the modifications. (The amount of time spent on each iteration can be modified based on group size and number of groups)

Stage 3

  • Repeat this process until each group has worked on three robots.
  • Depending on the number of groups in the class and how the groups are rotated, it might even be possible to allow teams to continue until they return to their own robot, making and final adjustments.
  • Lead a class discussion regarding iteration, collaboration, and documentation.

Example: Household robot

For example, create a robot that can help you around the house.

A small car with a swiveling front to move around the house and deliver messages
Iteration 1 – A small car with a swiveling front to move around the house and deliver messages
Iteration 2 - Adds a touch sensor, ultrasonic sensor and a rudimentary envelope holder
Iteration 2 – Adds a touch sensor, ultrasonic sensor and a rudimentary envelope holder
Iteration 3 - More stable holder for the envelope and better placement of the ultrasonic sensor
Iteration 3 – More stable holder for the envelope and better placement of the ultrasonic sensor

 

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The Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) in Boston, Massachusetts, is dedicated to improving engineering education in the classroom, from Kindergarten to college. The Center houses faculty, staff, and graduate students from engineering disciplines and the education department.
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