Skip to main content

Mindstorm Drag Race

The programming students just completed a two week Lego Mindstorm robotics competition to build a drag racer. In keeping with the students' personalities, one followed directions found in a book and the other got creative.

Early tests revealed that using gear ratios gave the dragster greater speed than simply running the wheels directly off the motor. That led to adding as many gears as possible, but then the torque became too great for the motors to push the car off the line.

Other factors that came into play were a friction sled front end versus wheels. One Mindstorm uses the rechargeable battery pack while the other uses AA batteries, so power supply may have been a factor.

Steering became an issue, as both vehicles tended to veer to the side. Both racers used two motors to drive the axle, so mismatched motors may have delivered more torque to one side.

The programming wasn't overly complex. We used light sensors to identify when a bright light was flashed to start the race. While working through gear ratios, they did attempt to write code that would simulate shifting gears, applying less power at the start and increasing it accordingly.


Popular posts from this blog

Classcraft Interactive Notebook Page

Finished crafting interactive notebook pages for Classcraft, an engaging classroom management tool.

This fall I plan to add interactive notebooks to my classroom procedures. The goal is to provide students with something tangible to take home at the end of the semester. So that means creating or borrowing resources to guide students in developing their notebook.

Classcraft is a classroom management tool, an elaborate punishments and reward system designed like an epic role play game. Students create avatars and can upgrade pets and outfits based on experience and gold points earned. They can also lose points and suffer minor penalties. Everything is done in a fun, game like environment.

The computer lab is already divided into five or six stations, which lends itself easily to guilds or teams of students who work together in the game. I want students to develop their own backstory and choose their characters for the good of the group. I also need students to keep their login info some…

Exploring Science and Math through Music and Messes

If you have ever seen a music video by the music group OK Go, you know that they enjoy experimentation and quirky effects. Now all that energy is available for teachers in the classroom, with maybe slightly less mess.

In cooperation with Google and Morton Salt, they have produced a set of three STEM related lesson plans complete with tie-ins to their most popular videos. You can get your hands dirty in this wonderful playground at the OK Go Sandbox.

Lego Mindstorm Maze Runner

Students were tasked with writing a program for their robot to successfully navigate a preset maze. This used only directional command blocks (no sensors). The goal was to recognize sequencing, patterns and to become comfortable with testing and making modifications based on test results.