It should be noted that robotics plays a critical role in the modern workforce, where the demand for such experts is increasing each year. Integrating a robotics course for elementary K-12 students can become a major improvement in their future professional competence since they will be familiar with core concepts and frameworks of engineering. The proposed course in the given analysis will primarily focus on incorporating free elective courses adopted partly from freely available online courses, including Carnegie Mellon University. The course units and objectives will cover the fundamental basics with a heavy emphasis on hands-on practice. The completion of the course will depend on the functionality of a physical robot. The selected robots for the given course will be purchased and ordered from Lego company. The essentials will involve programming basics, robotics concepts, and a combination of the latter two in order to create a functional robotic unit.
At present, one of the most demanded in the labor market is engineering personnel of a high professional level, so the need to popularize the profession of an engineer is evident. The rapidly growing need for robotic systems used in extreme environments, in production, and at home suggests that even ordinary users should have knowledge of robotics. The study of such knowledge will allow students to gain experience in cognitive and creative activities, understand the meaning of basic scientific concepts and laws of physics, and learn the relationship between them. The course will use a problem-based learning approach, which is highly effective for interdisciplinary subjects, such as robots, which combines engineering and programming (Stentoft, 2017). It should be understood that in this case, a special role is assigned to school robotics. In this regard, a new model for introducing robotics elements into the educational process is needed.
Despite the evident relevance of this topic, there is currently an information deficit among students in Puerto Rico. Elective courses, which play an important role in the professional self-determination of high school students, become a means of filling the information deficit among students in general educational institutions. Such courses are associated with the satisfaction of the individual needs of each student and their inclinations and interests. That is why the effectiveness of using elective courses in teaching robotics is high. The process of implementing an elective course can be implemented in different ways.
The main objectives of the robotics course are to provide the necessary knowledge and skills in order for a student to be fully capable of designing a simple and functional robot. In other words, the described skills and competencies include programming basics, robot engineering basics, and practical ability to code a functional robot. The purpose of the course is to study the basics of designing and programming robots based on the Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kit (CMU, 2022). Category of students include children of 6-11 grades of K-12 educational institutions. The term of study is 128 hours per academic year. The offline form of education and the mode of study is 4 hours per week. The entire course will last for eight months, where each course unit will be allocated for each month, with the last month being the final examination in the form of projects.
The content of the topics of the elective course on the design and programming of robots depends on the material base. One of such material bases can be the Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 constructor set, which includes such basic elements as the NXT block, servomotors, and sensors (two touch sensors, an ultrasonic sensor, and a color/light sensor) (CMU, 2022). To expand the kit, one can use a resource kit consisting of duplicate and additional parts. Software for Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kits is represented by a wide range of programming environments (CMU, 2022). The kit itself already includes the original NXT-G graphical programming environment, which allows even primary school students to be involved in the design and programming of robots. The Robolab programming environment can also be used with elementary students (CMU, 2022). Whereas the RobotC, NXC, and LabVIEW programming environments are designed for students aged 14 and over (CMU, 2022). In other words, the suitability of the course will be dependent on the robot used as well as the depth of the topics and units covered.
A detailed overview of unit courses and their topics is presented in Table 1 of the Appendix.
Standards, Principles, and Outcomes
There are no specific standards or principles besides the programming basics, engineering basics, and Lego robot specifications. In the case of expected outcomes, the students will be able to exhibit competence at working with NXT-G graphical programming environment, engineering and building Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0, and incorporate algorithms and codes into the presented robotics problem. Since the emphasis of the course is problem-based learning, the factor of student autonomy will be of paramount importance due to the importance of self-learning and group learning.
In conclusion, it is proposed to consider the main methods and create a new combined method on their basis and test it in one of the sections of the developed elective course. It is important to create a new model for introducing robotics elements into the educational process, which differs from the existing ones by the presence of a unique elective course and a combined method for its implementation, including the project method, the portfolio method, the mutual learning method, the modular method, and the problem-based learning method.
CMU. (2022). Carnegie Mellon robotics academy. Carnegie Mellon University. Web.
Stentoft, D. (2017). From saying to doing interdisciplinary learning: Is problem-based learning the answer? Active Learning in Higher Education, 18(1), 51-61. Web.
|1||Introduction to robotics. The concept of a robot. Stages of development of robotics. Classification of robotic structures. The main elements of modern robot designs and their functional purpose.|
|2||Introduction to the robot LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0. Block NXT and its functions. Speaker. Screen. Sensors (touch, ultrasonic, color/light). Connection ports and connecting cables. Principles of building the robot.|
|3||Basics of design. Scissors and mechanical manipulator. Mechanical transmission. Reducer. Servo. Single-engine and all-wheel drive. Trolley with gear ratio change.|
|4||Additional sensors and the possibility of their use in the design of robots. Light sensor. Color sensor. Sound sensor. Temperature sensor. Tilt angle sensor. Gyroscopic sensor and infrared radiation.|
|5||Offline programming. The concept of an algorithm. The concept of the program. Linear algorithm. Post-condition and cyclical data. Description of blocks of autonomous algorithm. Algorithm of movement in a circle, forward, backward, in a square, and “eight.” Launching and debugging the program.|
|6||Programming in the NXT-G environment. Lego Mindstorms NXT start window. Program interface. Main menu. Command bar. Setting command options. Launching and debugging the program. Branching (decision block). Cycle with a parameter. Loop with post-condition. Loop and interrupt. Subroutine. Working with variables. Using the “random number” block.|
|7||Solution of applied problems. School robotics tournaments. Preparing robots for competitions: black line movement, inverse line movement, labyrinth, maze with obstacles, sumo, steps, sorting. Modeling, designing, and programming of robots according to the given functionality.|
|8||Project Design, Final Projects|