Instruction Guide: EV3 - Sensor Exploration Lab

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Students will use the programming skills they learned from “Move until Color”, “Move until Touch”, “Move until Near”, and “Turn for Angle” to make a claim about how sensors work and design an investigation to prove they are correct.

Students should use the How Sensors Work Lab Assignment sheet to complete this investigation.

When to Use This Lab
This lab can be given as a way to introduce waves and signals or as a way to apply knowledge already learned about waves and signals.

If used to introduce waves and signals, do not give students any prior information. Let them grapple with the mystery of how the sensor actually works. Allow them to be frustrated and beg for answers. Once the lab is finished, you can use their data to support the information you give them about waves and signals.

If used to apply knowledge, have students refer to specific texts, notes, or assignments that support their claims about how the sensors work. For example, if they believe the color sensor works by sensing light waves, have them refer to a text they read previously about light waves to support their claim.

This Port View Instruction Guide may be useful if using this lesson prior to programming with sensors.

Note: The EV3 Trainer series contains an animation explaining how each sensors works in the "Optional" section below one of the video lesson steps.  For each sensor, these can be found:

Touch Sensor: Behaviors >> Sensors >>  "Move Until Touch" >> Step 3 >> Optional Activities
Ultrasonic Sensor: Behaviors >> Sensors >>  "Move Until Near" >> Step 3 >> Optional Activities
Gyro Sensor: Behaviors >> Sensors >>  "Turn for Angle" >> Step 4 >> Optional Activities
Color Sensor: Behaviors >> Sensors >>  "Move Until Color" >> Step 3 >> Optional Activities

Claim, Reasoning, and Model
Each pair of students will choose one sensor to investigate between the color, touch, ultrasonic, gyro, or IR sensor if you have one. Make sure each sensor is chosen by at least one student pair in the class so pairs can learn from one another.

After student pairs choose their sensors, give each student pair a white board. Have them draw how they think the sensor works, labeling their drawing. Then have them write a sentence or two explaining their drawing. Tell students this is a claim, a statement about a scientific phenomenon. Have students share their claim with you. As they share their claims, ask them questions that will probe them for deeper thinking.

Sample deep questions you can ask:
•    Can you think of a science vocabulary word to describe the phenomenon you are observing?
•    How is the signal being sent?
•    How could you describe what is happening with a math equation?
•    What is happening that we cannot see with our eyes?
•    How is energy being transferred and transformed through this sensor?
•    What subsystems are affecting the performance of your sensor?
•    What variables need to be controlled ahead of time to ensure your sensor works correctly?
•    Is your sensor more or less reliable than other sensors? Why or why not?
After they have spent time thinking about their claim, give them the “How Sensors Work Lab” where they will redraw and write their claim and model of how their particular sensor works.

Planning and Carrying Out the Investigation
Students will now design a lab that is intended to prove their claim true. They need to think of an independent and dependent variable. For example, if they are testing the color sensor, they might test how different shades of red affect the amount of time the robot takes to respond to a stimulus. Whatever investigative question they decide on needs to ultimately support or refute their original claim.
After getting their question approved by you, they will write a hypothesis and procedure for their investigation. They should then set up their data table to collect their data in and conduct the investigation they planned.

Graphing and Analyzing Data
After completing the lab, students will graph their data and use the results to write a final claim, explain their reasoning using data they collected, and draw a final model to explain how the sensor works.

Engaging in Argument and Communicating Information
After students finish their lab they will need to share their data, final claim, and reasoning with the class. Each student pair will stand in front of the class and make an argument for their final claim. Students in the audience are required to present an argument to the proposed claim, ask a thoughtful question about the investigation, or compliment the pair of students on a scientific skill. Each student is required to do this as part of their lab grade.