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Using Loops to Make Candy

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - The Purpose of this Section

This Apply section will help students understand how robots use loops in the real world. Read through the Real World Connection content with students, and use the Motivate Discussion teacher note to foster discussion among students. The Apply section also discusses the competition tasks at VEX Worlds, and how they relate to drivers controlling the robot with loops.
These Apply pages can be worked through as a class.

If you have time available in class or as homework, Extend Your Learning sections provide other options to get students thinking about how robotics is used throughout their lives.

A conveyor belt moves chocolates along a mechanical assembly line.

Loops in Manufacturing

Robots are capable of doing the same task over and over by using loops. There are many advantages to having robots do repetitive tasks. Robots do not get tired, and do not need breaks (as long as they have constant power). For this reason, robots have become instrumental in manufacturing where robots can continuously do tasks which would be more difficult, or even dangerous, for humans.

An example of an industry which has benefited from robots doing repetitive tasks is the candy industry. Robots such as ABB’s Flexpicker can use a vacuum attachment to pick up hundreds of candies per minute. Robots can be programmed to exert the right amount of force for very delicate candies so they don’t get crushed. Robots on the assembly line can also use vision sensors to identify candies which are misshapen and not pick them up. Programming robots with loops can help make manufacturing, like the candy industry, more efficient.

Motivate Discussion icon Motivate Discussion - Loops in Industry

Q: What other robots or machines in your life do you think utilize loops?
A: Students could answer with a variety of examples. Smart phones and computers are excellent examples of where loops can be found. Screens have loops programmed to refresh the pixels and therefore change the screen. Weather apps utilize loops to periodically reach out to a database to detect if there are any changes in the information it should display to you.

Q: Can you think of any other advantages to robots using loops in assembly lines?
A: Robots can repeatedly do tasks in very dangerous conditions such as extreme heat or cold. Robots also provide a highly sanitary environment for manufacturing dealing with food, such as candy.

Extend Your Learning icon Extend Your Learning - Loops in Life

Loops are used in many different robots and programs. Ask students to identify a machine or program which they use in their life and believe they use loops. Have students record why they think a loop is used, and then research to see if loops are in fact used in their target machine or program.