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Robotics challenges: Workshop handouts

Crash Test Dummy

Here are some of the challenges that I give to my robotics students that I’ve also given to teachers at various workshops. Most of these are based on classic robotics challenges. Some have previously been documented on this site.

Please note…

  • Only occasionally do I print these out and hand them to my students. More often I will put these up on the projector for the whole class to use as a point of discussion and negotiation. We consider the purpose for us doing this particular challenge and adjust the constraints and marking scheme accordingly.
  • I rarely, if ever, present any of these challenges to my students in exactly the same way twice, or even in the way that they are presented here. I adapt them freely to suit my students – and to keep things interesting for myself.
  • Consequently, I’m not only happy for you to adapt these challenges to suit the needs of you and your students – I expect it!

The challenges

An example handout

The following challenges are included in the attached file (see below) as Word documents. Each document includes a description of the challenge, any required equipment, constraints, building and programming tips, as well as as assessment rubric where appropriate.

  • Crash Test Dummy – Design and build a LEGO car that, when given a gentle push, will roll off a table and survive a fall onto the floor. This is purely a building challenge – no motors or other electronic parts.
  • Steepest Incline – Design and build a vehicle that is activated by a touch sensor, climbs the steepest incline, and stops at the top. Introduces basic building, waits.
  • Going the Distance – Build and program a robot car to drive as close to as possible to a LEGO minfigure, without knocking over Dan. Introduces dead reckoning and provides a nice link with mathematics (line of best fit, interpolation, extrapolation).
  • Line Following and Proportional Controls – Create a robot vehicle that follows a line and avoids collisions with obstacles. Introduces bang-bang and proportional controls.
  • Light and Dark Scavenger Hunt – Collect a wide range of light readings from your environment and display them on your computer screen. Introduces basic datalogging and leads into graph programming.
  • Etch A Sketch – Create your own version of the famous Etch A Sketch drawing toy. Introduces working with the display.
  • Cookie Clicker – Create a Cookie Clicker game. Count how many times the touch sensor has been pressed and display the score on the screen. Introduces variables.
  • Reaction Timer – Create a reaction timer game, but measuring how long it takes to press the touch sensor after a signal. Introduces timers.
  • Working with the IR Beacon – Tips and tricks for working with the EV3 Infrared Beacon using either the EV3 Infrared Sensor or the HiTechnic IR Seeker v2.
  • Working with the Compass Sensor – Tips and tricks for working with the HiTechnic Compass Sensor.

Resources

Acknowledgements

The main inspiration for many of these challenges – and even how I format my handouts to this day – is Eric Wang’s “Engineering with LEGO Bricks and ROBOLAB, Third Edition” (2007). I don’t know how I would’ve got started with robotics education were it not for Eric’s book.

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Rob Torok

I'm a teacher in Tasmania, Australia, and have used LEGO MINDSTORMS with my students since 2001. I'm the editor in chief for LEGO Engineering (this site) as well as the content editor for LEGO Education Australia (LEGOeducation.com.au).

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