Connection to VEX GO
The Robot Arm Unit offers teachers and students a hands-on exploration of how computer science and robotics are used together in real life applications. In Lab 1, students are immersed into the process of building a robotic arm that can be used to pick up and move disks manually. They will brainstorm other ways they could use robotic arms, and make connections between robotic arms and their own daily life. Students continue to build on that knowledge of robotic arms in Lab 2 when they add motors and switches to build the Motorized Robot Arm. This is a great opportunity to engage students in a discussion about mechanization, and the advantages and disadvantages of having machines do certain things.
In Labs 3, 4, and 5 students control the Robot Arm using code, as it evolves from a mechanical build to an automated build. Each Lab introduces students to a new coding concept related to the function of the Robot Arm, as they learn more about how to control the flow of a project using Boolean conditions, conditional statements, and the [Forever] block. In Lab 3, students begin to code the motion of the Robot Arm and are introduced to the Electromagnet. In Lab 4, students use the Eye Sensor and a [Wait until] block to control when the Robot Arm will move, and are introduced to robotic decision making using [If then] blocks. In Lab 5, students add repeated decision making to further automate the Robot Arm, using multiple [If then] blocks in a [Forever] block.
Beyond coding, students will be communicating the actions they want their robotic arm to complete. This communication will help students to practice spatial reasoning skills. In Lab 2, students practice these spatial reasoning skills as they discuss how the position of the switches changes the movement of the Motorized Robot Arm with one another. They will need to write down directions for how to move a disk from one location to another. These directions will go through multiple iterations as students learn to be more specific in their language to describe how to manipulate the robotic arm.
Students will continue to practice spatial reasoning skills as they plan VEXcode GO projects in Labs 3, 4, and 5. Students will need to use directional words as they plan the movement of the robotic arm to pick up and move disks from one location to another. Students are also encouraged to use gestures as they communicate with their group and their teacher. In this manner, students are able to develop their spatial reasoning skills through the challenges in this Unit.
Throughout this Unit, students will be engaged with different coding concepts such as decomposition and sequencing. The Labs within this unit will follow a similar format:
- Teachers will help students make a personal connection to the concepts that will be taught in the Lab.
- Students will complete the build.
- Instruct: Teachers will introduce the coding challenge. Ensure that the students understand the goal of the challenge.
- Model: Teachers will introduce commands that will be used in the creation of their project to complete the challenge. Model the commands by projecting VEXcode (GO/123) or by showing physical (representations of the blocks/Coder cards). For Labs that include pseudocode, model for students how to plan and outline the intention for their projects.
- Facilitate: Teachers will be given prompts to engage students in a discussion about what the goals of their project are, the spatial reasoning involved in the challenge, and how to troubleshoot unexpected outcomes of their projects. This discussion will also verify that the students understand the purpose of the challenge and how to properly use the commands.
- Remind: Teachers will remind students that their first attempt at their solution will not be correct or run properly the first time. Encourage multiple iterations and remind students that trial and error is a part of learning.
- Ask: Teachers will engage students in a discussion that will connect the Lab concepts to real-world applications. Some examples could include, “have you ever wanted to be an engineer?” or “where have you seen robots in your life?”
- Students have an opportunity to communicate their learning in multiple ways. Using the Choice Board, students will be given a “voice and choice” for how they best display their learning.