Friday, April 4, 2008

Integrating Robotics into Core Instruction: LEGO takes a robotics step in Texas

From: RedOrbit

Kids Get a Kick Out of Building Robots
"SOUTHLAKE -- Students say it's not about playing around in class.
But they can't deny it's awesome to build Lego robots -- one that kicks a paper ball into a miniature soccer goal and another that tries to block it -- and control them with their laptop computers.

Durham Elementary is among five schools nationwide chosen as test sites for Lego Education's science-based robotics set for elementary schoolchildren. The company plans 12 robot sets, to be marketed to teachers and school districts, in early 2009.

Durham will receive a free classroom set after the product is released.
"This is amazing. Robotics is the future," said J.P. Reppeto, 9, a third-grader. "In cartoons, comics, pretty much anything interesting has something to do with robots. That's what you think of when you think of the future."

Each week, pairs of students in second, third and fourth grades build a different robot from a kit. The robots are made from colorful Lego parts and are powered by a tiny motor and motion-detection sensor attached by cable to a laptop computer, said Nancy Peterson, director of market research for Lego Education, in Pittsburg, Kan.

The first week, students built a mechanical kicker and programmed the computer to make its leg kick a ball of paper.

This week, students made a soccer goal and mechanical goalkeeper. The goalie, attached to a mechanical arm, moves back and forth in front of the goal to block the balls lobbed by the kicker. The computer keeps score.

Lego wants to find out which models are best for each age, Peterson said.
"We are looking to put something into the hands that is easy for every student to pick up and to have success," Peterson said..."

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