Tuesday, October 29, 2013

LEGO got so much cooler

One of the perks of my job is testing new equipment. The latest addition to our very important educational tools is the new LEGO EV3. (check out the trailer). If you've never heard of the LEGO robotics just a quick update. In 1998 first brought a programmable 'brick' on the market. This meant you could make you're own robot out of LEGO parts, add sensors and motors, and finally write a program to tell the robot how to behave.The EV3 is the third in the LEGO Mindstorms series and has some really nice features. Let's start with the sensor. The education kit that we have comes with two touch sensors, an ultrasonic distance meter, an accelerometer, a small engine that can tell you the angle it has turned and a light sensors that can also detect different colors. You can also get an infrared sensor and a remote control. And of course we can't do without the two large motors to get things moving about.
So I wanted to see if everything works, if it's understandable and if students could work with it. The first model that is described in the software looked really nice so I followed the building instructions, downloading the program and in the video below is the result. It's called Gyro Boy and it's a robot that can balance itself on two wheels. Pretty impressive.

Like I said this was just following instructions and that doesn't get you in a lot of problems. I was quite impressed with how nice the robot was designed. I haven't had the time yet to look into the program that stops it from falling over, but I'm guessing it will have some nice surprises too.
The real goal of course is getting students to work with the EV3, but I can already think of some problems interesting enough for a wide range of students. Hopefully I can update this subject some more in the near future.

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