Monday, April 24, 2006

Science Journals, Scientific Inquiry in Middle Schools

I took a look at all of the Lego Robotics Journals last week. These are really science journals that you keep. Some of the journals were fascinating to read. Others were unreadable because there was nothing there to read.
This made me think it was time to discuss the journals again so that students can increase their learning and performance. In this world, "...if it is not written down or recorded somehow-- it did not happen." Anonymous

Today, we reviewed some features of Science Journals which included but was not limited to, notes, drawings, diagrams, maps, thoughts, qusetions, observations, procedures, analysis, predictions, and summaries.

I hope that your journal entries improve. It is hard for some students to get started. I will help. Just say, "Give me hand," or "help," and I will.

My first question to you will be, " What are you doing?" Then, "Why?" and so forth. Just write a quick sentence for your answer. Pretty soon you can train yourself to ask those questions inside your head and then answer them with writing in your journal.

Check out this rubric I made for your journals.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Back From Spring Break- Grasping Claws

Hi Guys!

We are back to the grind on Monday. Our latest objective in our Lego Robotics Talent Class is to build a simple grasping claw. Claws are needed to do work. A robot that has the ability to grasp objects makes it a versatile robot and will have the ability to score points in many competitions.

Before the break, we were building the claw on a separate chassis. That means we were not using an RCX yet. Yes, eventually we will attach the claw, but for now, each work group is busy constructing the claws as a unique item.

  • Claw Lesson from MIT
  • Colleges use robotics to teach engineering. Take a look...

    I showed you two examples of grasping claws, one was an expanding scissor-like claw and the other was a pivoting claw.

    We found that we need to follow a few principles to build a successful claw:
    1.) A claw needs a structure-- like a rectangular frame. By the end of the week we were calling it a "chassis." That helped students to get the idea across that the claw needs to be supported just as gear trains, axles and wheels do.

    2.) "Trial and Error" seems to be a good way to build a claw. Drawing and planning are always appreciated but nothing beats building, testing and re-building.

    Think of heavy machinery. Can you think of any machines or devices that have grasping claws? Try drawing that object.

    One last thought. Building this claw is very rich activity to learn from. I want to see diagrams and drawings in your Robotics Journals. I want to see descriptions of your processes. I want to read what you think. I want to read how you solved problems with your claw.