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Have you been teaching Lego Mindstorms in your classroom? Are you tired of teaching the cliché line following and obstacle avoidance? In this article we’re going to explore five engineering projects using Lego Mindstorms. So, if you’ve run out of activities to do with your Lego Mindstorms kit, give these a try.
These projects assume some level of understanding using the Lego Mindstorms kit. Therefore, we recommend getting setup and building a few simpler projects using motors and sensors before attempting this list.
1. Make a Security Gadget
The purpose of this project is to build a device to prevent theft. Students will work in pairs or small groups to design, build, program and test their prototype. The goal is create a working alarm, security system, or trap using the Lego Mindstorms EV3 Core Set.
I’d recommend examining all of the sensors in your kit and have students find ways to utilize information from the sensors to create their prototype. Don’t forget to utilize the Engineering Design Process to check off NGSS and State Standards! This is a perfect way to incorporate a variety of concepts in one lesson! Read the Full Project here
Lego provides copies of the lesson plans, student worksheets, self-assessment sheets, and teacher notes as a resource for educators. If you decide to try this project in your class, bookmark this page so you have access to everything in one place!
2. Move Objects using Pick & Place
A very common problem is using a robot to move objects from point A to point B. That’s why I really like this project. You can use the Lego Mindstorms kit to build a pick & place device. It teaches entry-level concepts to a typical industry problem.
Feel free to use this video or the one in the lesson plans to give students an idea of how robots are used in factories to move and manufacture products.
This project can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on how much design, development, prototyping, and testing you want to do. It’s another great opportunity to complete the full engineering design process with a real-world application.
If you want to focus more on programming and logic, I recommend checking out these example Lego Mindstorms robot arms. (Click for building instructions.)
While students won’t have the benefit of designing and building their own version of a robot arm, they will be able to spend more time planning out the logic and code. Which is oftentimes missed because building takes forever! Read the Full Project here
3. Create an Autonomous Intersection
Autonomous vehicles are all the rage these days. With companies like Tesla becoming more popular, this project is very relevant. How do we navigate an intersection using an autonomous vehicle? In this project, students will explore ways to solve this challenging problem.
This challenge is to design a autonomous driving vehicle that can safely cross an intersection. The solution must be able to:
- Drive to an intersection, properly signal, and turn right
- Repeat the above sequence turning left
- Detect traffic lights and react accordingly to their signals
- Detect other cars and react accordingly
You’ll have to build a classroom-sized playing field including a 4-way intersection with stop lines. If you have more advanced students, I’d recommend solving this project using ROBOTC, a text programming language. If you need help getting started, I recommend trying this Udemy Course on Lego Mindstorms programming using ROBOTC. Read the Full Project here
4. Develop a Color or (Cookie) Sorting Machine
One thing that makes robots so cool is the fact that they can interpret information from their environment. In this project, you’ll use the color sensor to create a color sorting machine (building instructions). Here’s an example of what students could build.
I like this project because it combines the use of mechanics with a conveyor, plus logical programming using conditional statements, and the use of a complex sensor to detect color. This would be a great candidate for an elective final project because it combines a lot of elements of robotics and programming into one demonstration.
Students can be creative with this project by creating their own design, building it, and programming it to the project specification. If you don’t have the color sensor, you could use an Infrared (IR) sensor and detect contrast. I’ve even had students sort Oreo cookies based on flavor (Vanilla & Chocolate). It works really well (and it’s tasty)! For more details, lesson plans, rubrics, and teacher guides, visit the full project, here.
5. Code a System to Communicate Verbally
In this project, students will design, build and program a robotic system that follows a path and verbally communicates a detected color at least twice along the way.
One way of the executing this project is to create a playing field or track. Build a rover and have it navigate using the line trackers. As the it navigates around the track, it’ll detect certain colors. The goal is to announce the correct color based on the reading. Read the Full Project here.
Another way is to combine this project with the color sorter project (#4) and announce colors before you drop them off in the cup. You could also collect and announce ultrasonic sensor readings or even trigger an Alarm Message by recording your own sounds. I challenge you to take some of these project and incorporate next-step learning in your Lego Mindstorms class!
What projects have you tried?
Did you attempt any of these projects in your classroom? Which ones did you like? Which ones would you add? Be sure to comment below! And don’t forget to tag us in your social media posts (@learnrobotics on Facebook & Instagram and @learnroboticsx on Twitter!).
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