Create robot racers and a classroom track for a racing event!
Total: 45 minutes
- Explore ways to build structures and create, interpret and use movement.
- Collaborate as a team to build on the ideas of others and tell a story together about what is created.
- Develop problem-solving strategies by testing different ways to build and modify their robot.
- A practical introduction to physics concepts when building robots: balance, friction, the center of mass, and inertia.
- Start asking your students what they think a robot is and if they can name examples of what they can do. Can they drive? Can they be worn? Are there one in the classroom right now?
- Place the sample robot on the ground for students to observe.
- Let your students that they will be creating their own robots and collaboratively designing a track for a large scale robot race.
- Your students will determine what are the rules and track for the race. Having more than one set of rules and tracks is desirable but not necessary. If students are struggling or being overly optimistic about their set of rules and track, propose also to have a simple straight track with a simple rule: crossing the finish line.
- In groups brainstorm an idea for the robot, what does it do? Where does it reside and how does it travel? Have your students write a sentence on what they want their robot to do. Then a sentence on the objective they would like to reach. Sketches are also encouraged!
- For students that have not built with Strawbees or Quirkbot before instead of drawing or writing, they can brainstorm through free building and verbally communicating with the group.
- Examples of student-designed projects:
- Crawling robots with the objective of sneaking inside a low-ceiling cave.
- A circle-traveling, dizzy robot with the objective of trying to stay within the lines of a large drawn circle on paper.
- A robot walker with the objective of traveling in the straightest line on a frictionless, wooden floor.
- As part of a creative process, the track may evolve once students begin prototyping!
- Have your students start prototyping their first robot using Quirkbot and a servo motor. During this process advise students to make observations based on the motion made and how it interacts.
- Where does the servo motor movement start and where does it end?
- What happens if you switch the servo motor between pins 1 and 2?
- Describe the movement through speed.
- What happens if you pinch the horn of the Quirkbot while it’s running the Factory Program?
- A robot race can mean a friendly competition with itself or with other robots together achieving an objective. A race is an event where multiple members take part in creating the experience: the racers, the one who builds and raises the start flag, the mechanics, the announcer, cheering audience, and many other additional roles.
- A track for the racers can be made using existing environment such as on grass, taping blue lines on carpet, on desktops, or a cardboard ramp. Have your students think about the following:
- A track that is too small may prove to be difficult for multiple robots at once.
- Too big of a track could take too long of a time and feel less exciting.
- During this phase, students begin testing their ideas and getting feedback from you and their peers for improvement.
- Take on the guise of a facilitator and prompt students to ask questions and name observations aloud to their group, especially if the robot is not acting according to plan. If robot flips over, why does it do that? What are the changes you made to counteract this?
- When a servo motor is moving, but the robot isn’t going anywhere, ask your students to actively identify every part of the robot and name its purpose to help debug the design.
- While playing, students are also continuously building and improving their designs.
- Start the competition with all racing robots at a starting point with student spectators and non-racing robots, like a flag twirler for example, to the side.
- Take on the role of an announcer, giving each group a minute to introduce their robot. Then announce the rules of the race and the track along with a few of these in mind:
- Turn on robot racers and hold it in place until you say, “GO!”
- Be considerate: if your robot runs into another you may walk into the race track to reset your racer.
- You are allowed to reset your robot right side up if it flips over.
- Avoid rebuilding on the track so other racers aren’t blocked.
- The established goal the racers must reach.
- Have the class join you in a countdown or drumroll then release the racers!
- Create a spot on a table to display the racers. Have groups write down what their robot’s performance and any observations they made during the building and racing phase. Ask students:
- What did you notice about other robot designs? How could it be improved?
- Do you think the fastest moving servo motor is the best?
- What do you think of the track’s level of difficulty? What could make it easier and what could make it harder?
- Give students an opportunity to participate in a second race. Allow them the time to make modifications on the robot itself or update the code before starting. Let them explore more ways to modify their robots including changing the body or frame for the next race.
- Build an example robot that is partially built and limited in movement.
- Make sure all the Quirkbots are fully charged.
- Have the Quirkbots preprogrammed with the Factory Program as the foundation. You can upload the Factory Program at Strawbees CODE.
- Watch the activity video under CREATE for examples of robot racers.
- For programming robots set up a few computer stations for students to make changes to the code, understanding the intention of this space is for rapid prototyping and not sitting at a computer most of the class session. Prepare and collect additional construction materials such as cardboard, paper, string, and plastic for track and robot building.