Monday, January 16, 2012

LEGO NASA TI Project Explore! J-term

videoThis year's J-term class added LEGO Mindstorms into the mix of STEM activities. This fit in perfectly with the NASA and TI-Nspire CX connections. Besides making NASA Spinoff videos as part of the Optimus Prime competition (my favorite NASA Spinoff video was done by my own children), they also were faced with several challenges, including

Beginning Challenges

q 1. Make a robot that moves at a constant positive velocity. Graph this. Find the velocity.

q 2. Design and program a robot to move with a constant negative velocity. Collect data of this motion and graph the data. Calculate the velocity.

q 3. Collect data for 10 trials of the LEGO robot moving at a constant speed. Is it the same speed for each trial? Does it lose power? What is the velocity for the first trial and for the last trial? Power is the rate at which energy is used or the rate work is done. Kinetic energy, the energy of motion, is ½ m v2 . Calculate the kinetic energy and the power for the 1st and last trial.

q 4. Design and program a LEGO robot to move with a constant velocity, then with a zero velocity, and finally a negative velocity. Collect the data. Graphically show that this challenge was accomplished. Find the velocity for each segment.

q Bonus. Program a LEGO robot to do a random TI-Nspire Vernier DataQuest Motion Match.

q Acceleration: Program a robot move with a smooth positive and negative acceleration. Graph it and calculate it. (See the video made by one of the teams.)

q Friday competition. Using only the constraint of time, do the calculation and use the software to program your LEGO robot travel a surprise distance.

Next Challenges -

q Construct a wind turbine that will turn freely when a fan blows on it. Use a photogate to calculate the angular speed.

q Elevator. Collect data similar to the beginning challenges, but for an elevator. See this YouTube video for what this looked like in action or this one with the LEGO NASA astronaut.


I was excited that, despite the mild winter, it snowed enough for the students to go outside and do an investigation in the snow. The blue line shows the data that was collected as they walked outside and begin collecting data. The red curve shows what happened when this student put the Temperature probe into a pile of snow. Enjoy the video of their data collection.


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