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Summer SAVY Session 2, Day 1 – Robotic Engineering

Posted by on Monday, June 19, 2023 in blog, SAVY.

Day 1: Welcome to Robotics Engineering! It was such a pleasure meeting our talented community today. We are going to enjoy an amazing week together! 

We started our day by getting to know one another through introductions. Students designed a personal crest and shared the significance of each element with the community. We learned we have many LEGO enthusiasts, athletes, musicians, and multilingual students and families! 

Students are often assigned group projects but are seldom taught strategies for success. Today we talked about evaluating decisions and learned to rank them (minor, moderate, and significant). As a class, we evaluated real-world scenarios/decisions, then talked about which merit discernment and which are best to decide quickly to keep projects moving. Rock-paper-scissors, anyone? 

Our young professionals were grouped and asked to form a company and put these new decision-making strategies to work. Each start-up chose its company name, created a slogan, and designed a logo that incorporated at least one element from the founders’ personal crests. During their “grand opening,” each workgroup shared how they chose their name and what each founder contributed to the decision. Newly minted companies include Moosic and Cow, LEGOS, Lego Orcas, Scorpion Tech, Dogged Eels, RTL, and LEGO Inc. 

This week we will be using the LEGO Education App and LEGO SPIKE Prime robot kit for our hands-on activities. Today we learned about the components: hub (“brain”); medium and large motors; and touch/force, color, ultrasonic/distance, and gyro sensors. We learned about pitch, roll, and yaw, and how gyros are used in everyday items from aerospace and automobiles to mobile devices and steadicams, and even shawarma grills. 

For our first project, each company was tasked with a top-secret research and development project. Colleagues built a prototype of their new product using LEGO bricks and wrote assembly instructions. Instructions were passed to another team to test. Teams then followed written instructions, compared models, and suggested improvements to the instructions. What did we learn from this exercise? Coding concepts: algorithm, bug, debug, decomposition, and pseudocode. 

Today we built autonomous driving machines. Our heavy machinery engineers built a driving base with three types of sensors. Students learned how to set parameters (movement motors, movement speed, motor rotations) and how to move around.  

Whether on a highway or in a factory or warehouse, an autonomous driving machine requires accuracy. We explored inductive reasoning (bottom-up approach) and deductive reasoning (top-down), then students applied their geometry knowledge to calculate wheel circumference and predicted (using inductive reasoning) which method would be more accurate: rotations, specified distance, or travel time. Tomorrow they will conduct experiments and record data to test their hypothesis.  

Our day passed very quickly! We talked briefly about our activities for the week and introduced tomorrow’s first project: a scanner/copier machine. We wrapped up our day by journaling in our engineering notebooks just a few minutes before dismissal. We look forward to another busy day tomorrow! 

Ask your student what three things differentiate a robot from other types of machines. 

Class question of the day: 

It’s summer! If you could travel to any fictional place, where would that be? 

Answers included Redwall Abbey, Hogwarts, Ravenclaw Common Room, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Narnia, Syltheryn Dungeon, Wonderland, and the Lost Cities. 

Ms. Penne