For the final project or portfolio piece for this unit I created an alternative assignment that I hoped would help students to understand some of the real world applications of robotics, encourage them to research cutting edge robotics, and think critically to solve problems.
Mars Rover Assignment.docx (14.9 KB)
I have attached the assignment and rubrics I used for this project. The students were to do research on the NASA Mars Rover missions and write a report that not described and summarized some of the missions, but also asked them to think critically and think of design improvements. NASA has a lot of information available about the types of sensors and mechanics that their robots have and there are videos and pictures that have been sent from the rovers. This project helped students to connect what they were doing to the larger picture. Many of the students reported that after doing the research they realized that they understood the concepts from the Mars Rovers that they used to think were too advanced to understand.
The second part to the project was that students were to create two robots that would be used to complete a “Martian” obstacle course. They had to create a “gatekeeper” robot that would be stationary to protect their base and a “tank” robot that would travel through the course. They would then have to find and collect rock samples (colored foam balls) and return them to base. There were certain colors that were desirable and some that were not.
Robotics Final Project.docx (15.2 KB)
My advice for someone who will teach this unit would be to encourage exploration and deviation from the instruction guides. The students who followed the guides were able to create premade robots, but the students who were willing to deviate and create different robots seemed to have a greater grasp of the concept.
The structure I used for this lesson was dividing students into groups and encouraged them to explore. I helped them to budget their time between researching the Mars Rovers and working on their own projects. The combination of research and building helped the students to make connections within the unit.
The NASA website is the most useful resource I found. They have great videos, pictures, and descriptions of the robots they use.