Coriolis Effect

At first, earth science standards may seem far beyond the reach of a robotics activity. However, students can use the Hummingbird to get some hands-on experience with important concepts such as the Coriolis effect, the phenomenon that determines the direction in which a storm rotates. Stephanie Reilly's earth science students at Plum High School used the gear motor to create Hummingbird models of the Coriolis effect and then produced videos to explain what they learned. This project took place in a learning support class over five 42-minute sessions.

Moving Masterpieces

Jayne Sweet of South Allegheny Middle School knows that not all of her students will become artists, but they will all need creativity, the ability to think critically, and problem-solving skills. For this reason, she decided to use robotics to introduce her eighth-grade students to art history. In this nine-week class, students worked in teams of 1-3 to choose a painting and recreate it as a three-dimensional art form. They then incorporated light and movement into the artwork in a way that was congruent with what they inferred about the goals of the artist.

Opera Bots

Opera can seem an inscrutable topic to middle school students. In order to help students better understand and appreciate this art form, music teacher Beth Minda partnered with Gifted Support Coordinator Sue Mellon to devise an interdisciplinary project using the Hummingbird. Eighth grade students from Springdale Junior/Senior High worked in pairs to design and build robotic dioramas for selections from La bohème.

Design Thinking and Robotics

Kim Wilkens and Tom Weis started the school year by challenging their eighth grade science students to create a device for a student with cerebral palsy. During this project at St. Anne's-Belfield School, students learned about the Design Thinking process and researched cerebral palsy. Then they used this process and their research to brainstorm ideas to address the needs of a theoretical student with cerebral palsy. They then chose an idea to prototype using the Hummingbird.

Writing and Robotics

Writing and Robotics is a week-long summer camp at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) run by the SELF Design Studio.  Writing and Robotics is an elective add-on experience for participants of the UNCG Young Writers’ Camp, which is a morning camp that spans a two week period in July.  In Young Writers’ Camp, students write and publish their own fiction or nonfiction work on the UNCG Young Writers’ Camp webpage.

Amusement Park Physics

Informal learning spaces can provide students with in-depth experiences that are difficult to facilitate within the constraints of a traditional classroom. Michael Weidinger, Rebecca Dieffenbach, and Will Bennett facilitate the STEM club at Queens Lake Middle School to enable students to explore robotics via long-term projects. The STEM club meets once a week for one hour during most of the school year.

Angles with Hummingbird

Teacher Note: This is a short introductory activity designed to introduce students to the servo motor. Students construct a large protractor and investigate how to write a program that moves the servo motor to different angles. To save time, you could do this activity as a demonstration or have students use a photocopied image of a protractor. However, having students create the protractor reinforces Common Core math standards for measuring and constructing angles (4.MD.C and 4.G.A).

Robot Shakespeare

Students encountering Shakespeare for the first time need to read critical play passages many times to really understand them, but students may be reluctant to spend a significant period of time concentrating on a single passage. Making a robotic diorama can motivate students to analyze a passage more completely.

Modeling Joints with Robotics

The contraction of flexor and extensor muscles to move a joint is a complex system that can be difficult for students to visualize and understand. Brett Slezak and Amanda Waronsky are using robotics to help their seventh grade students better understand the biomechanics of joint movement. They combine the health and PE classes at Springdale Junior/Senior High School to complete this project with 40 students in roughly eight 45-minute class periods.

Electronic Project Interdisciplinary Creation (EPIC)

EPIC (Electronic Project Interdisciplinary Creation) was developed in the Mt. Lebanon School District (PA) as a collaboration between Cindy Bronen, a middle school science teacher, and Amy Barone, who teaches middle school history. This is as an end-of-year interdisciplinary project in which students learn basic programming skills and demonstrate something they learned in science or history during the year. This is an open-ended project; in the first year, topics ranged from a diorama depicting the Battle of the Alamo to projects depicting Newton's laws of motion.

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