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Pawnee junior high students show off robots
May 28, 2010 | 770 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After four months of building and programming Lego Mindstorms Robots, students at Pawnee Junior High were understandably sad when the time came to disassemble them and put them away until next school year.

Jason Serna asked if he could have exactly the same kit again next year. He and 14 other 6th-, 7th- and 8th-graders spent hours building, programming and testing their robots. Undoubtedly, the students became quite attached to their robots, some even giving them pet names.

Lego Mindstorms educational robotics incorporates science, technology, engineering and mathematics. An NXT brick, the “brain” of the robot, controls the three motors, and four sensors built into each robot. Each kit contains hundreds of parts that snap together. Students were challenged as they followed the detailed instructions. They had to pay attention to detail and problem-solve along the way to complete their robot.

Each robot is equipped with sound, light, touch and ultrasonic sensors. Programming the robots entails using software that creates a chain of commands which can then be uploaded into the NXT brick. As a result, the robots are able to perform certain functions and respond to their environment. Some students followed a palette that gives step-by-step instructions to the programmer. Others chose to create their own chain of commands to make their robots follow an obstacle course scenario.

The robotics class, taught by Kathy Naylor, a science teacher at Pawnee, was made possible by the TexasACE21 after-school program. Students met twice a week for an hour after school in the modern new science lab at Pawnee School and demonstrated their robots for the public at the recent grand opening.
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