The North Bend Eagle


Robots in the classroom
Dan Winkler test his robots ability to negotiate laps on a track using a touch sensor.

Robots invade classroom

Published 2/5/14

NORTH BEND – Beeps, buzzes and moans of disappointment are often heard in room A-15 at North Bend Central High School. Touch, ultrasonic, color and sound sensors have all taken on new significance to six students in North Bend Central’s global science class. These students have been trying to solve robotics challenges on a daily basis in Bob Feurer’s classroom since Christmas break.

Students have been programming LEGOS Mindstorm NXT robots to run drag races, perform color sensing challenges, navigate perfect square routes over and over and other challenges designed to utilize the various features and sensors of the Mindstorm platform.

Students must use a computer to design a program attempting to direct their robot to perform various actions from avoiding a wall, stopping on a black sheet of construction paper, backing up and then turning to avoid driving over it again.

“At the onset the students thought they were toys,” Feurer said. “They’ve since changed their minds.”

The 541-piece robot kit involves construction, programming and troubleshooting problems on a daily basis. The students have to understand the programming of the directions and what each of them causes the robot to perform in response.
Feurer proposed the curriculum enhancement to Superintendent Dan Endorf late last summer after Feurer had attended “The Best of Project SHINE” at Central Community College in Columbus.

“We were able to visit Becton-Dickinson, Behlen and Kawasaki plants with the intent of seeing how we could integrate manufacturing techniques into our classroom,” Feurer said. “I saw robotics as a piece of the puzzle that I could integrate into the Global Science classroom. It worked out perfectly as we purchased six robot kits and we happen to have six students, so each one gets a kit to themselves and can be independent in their work. But just as in the real world the kids learn how to collaborate when someone devises a solution or program. They share insights in solving problems.”

Feurer said that as he’s researched lessons he’s finding college engineering classes using the same platform as NBC has.

“Certainly, they have more advanced challenges, like designing and programing an NXT robot to climb steps and the like, but the thought processes involved are all quite similar,” Feurer said. “I have to admit that I’m learning right along with the kids and, honestly, most of them have better skills than I have!”

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