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Is There Math in Building Robots?

It seems building robots is frivolous…an extra activity….not really necessary…just for fun, BUT I recently had the privilege to attend a 5- day robotics summer camp, which opened my eyes to the skills involved in learning robotics.  Elementary students in grades 2-5 worked with VEX IQ robotics in teams of 2-3.

1.The first day they built the robots from the kit directions.

2.The second day they practiced having the robots drive to certain points on a floor mat.

3.The third day they programmed the robot to go to certain points on the mat.

4.The fourth day they learned to drive the robot with a controller.

5. The fifth day they put all they had learned into practice and competed.

The day they competed was my favorite day because I got too see the students excel with all they had learned.

Here are the major skills I observed kids learning during the process of building robots:

  1. learning interpersonal skills by working in teams to accomplish a goal
  2. learning and communicating in angle measures because they had to program their robot to turn
  3. learning the difference in mm and inches as they had to program their robot to move a certain distance.
  4. estimating distances as they had to program their robot to stop at a certain point
  5. exercising perseverance when a part of their robot didn’t quite connect correctly or behave correctly when programmed

Below you will see some photos showing the first mat students used in learning to drive their robots.  On this mat students programed  their robot to turn and learned about distances.  Their task was to program their robot to drive from home (the orange sign) to their friends house (the green sign) to the movie theater (the pink sign).  Then they were to program their robot to drive their friend back home and return to home themselves.  This task was way more challenging than it appears.

For your students who are unmotivated, what better way to create motivation than to have them do a culminating project of building robots after they learn measurement or as they learn measurement skills.

So I am going to fumble through learning this with my students this year.  I will be a novice robotics coach learning along side the kids.  🙂

 

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