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The preparation stage is intended to familiarize students with the field for the Automed Challenge and to help them practice measuring.
If time is a concern, set up the field ahead of time, show students the field and its precise measurements, and explain what they need to do for the challenge.

Students might be eager to start planning during this preparation stage but creating pseudocode to solve the challenge will begin during the next stage.

Prepare for the Automed Challenge

In this challenge, you need to program your robot to navigate a hospital as it delivers medications to patients in several different rooms. To successfully complete this challenge, you will need to program your robot to move from the Start Zone and stop in the Pharmacy for 5 seconds to pick up medications.

The project should then move the robot to each of the Patient Rooms (1, 2, and 3 in no particular order) and stop in the room for 3 seconds to deliver the medication. In order to move between floors in the hospital, the robot needs to park in the area designated as the Elevator for 5 seconds to indicate it is moving to another floor.

After medication has been delivered to all of the rooms, the robot should then return to the Start Zone. You should recreate the hospital map above on your floor using tape and a meter stick or ruler. Be sure to indicate where the Start Zone, Pharmacy, Elevator, and Patient Rooms are located.

To complete the challenge, you will need:

  • Roll of tape (to create the hospital layout on the floor)

  • 1.8 meter by 2 meter open area

  • Meter stick or ruler

Teacher Tips icon Teacher Tips

Mark with tape where the front wheels of the robot will be placed within the start zone so that the starting position for each run doesn't change. This will produce more consistent results while running the challenge.

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - Highlighting the Impacts of the Automed

Encourage enthusiasm for this challenge because properly programming an Automed greatly benefits society and our most vulnerable - the sick and hospitalized. This is not an easy challenge but one that students should take pride in because the engineers and programmers who develop technological solutions like these are improving the efficiency of health care and that has far-reaching benefits.
If students expressed reservations about having robots in the medical field during the discussion in Robots in the Medical Field, perhaps have them list potential ways to enhance or humanize the Automed. Ask them what they would want to add to the robot's behavior to improve its role and interactions with people in the medical setting. Of course, most of those enhancements are beyond the scope of this STEM Lab but it could help students contextualize the challenge more.

Remind students that this technology - like all technologies - involves a trade-off between the positive and negative effects as discussed previously. The benefits of the Automed (precise and timely administration of medications, speed and efficiency, and the automated tracking of medications in stock, to name a few) likely outweigh the costs (changes in hospital staffing, the less personable demeanor of a robot, the price of such a robot, and the risks of malfunctions).