Instruction Guide: Sound-Activated Robo-Dragster

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This lesson gives students their first look at differences between Science and Engineering and lays out their first Engineering Challenge. The goal of each Engineering challenge is to combine the skills students have recently learned in individual lessons into one complex open-ended design challenge.

Walk student through the Engineering Challenge #1 PPT.

Slide 1

  • Explore students preconceptions of the differences behind Science and Engineering
  • As a brief introduction to Engineering, leave students with the idea that:
    • Science is about understanding things
    • Engineering is about building things
    • Engineers apply the knowledge developed by Scientists to create new things (products, technologies, capabilities) that solve problems or address needs

Slide 2

  • This slide compares the Scientific Method (which most students have been exposed to) with the Engineering Process (which most students have not seen).
  • The Scientific Method is presented here in six steps with a possible iteration loop:
    • The first step is to ask a question
    • The second step is to do research to understand what is already known about this question
    • The third step is to form a hypothesis which frames the area to be explored
    • The four step is to create and conduct an experiment which tests the hypothesis
    • The fifth step analyzes the data from the experiment and draws a conclusion
      • This may lead to refining the hypothesis and conducting another experiment (iteration loop)
    • Finally, the results are published
  • The Engineering Process is also presented in six steps with an iteration loop:
    • Rather than asking a question, the Engineering Process begins with identifying a problem, need or opportunity
    • Similar to the Scientific Method, the second step here is also research:
      • What are the specific requirements
      • How have others sought to solve this problem, meet this need or address this opportunity
      • What resources do I have at my disposal
      • Given the above, what approach should be taken
    • The next step is develop a plan:
      • Select a strategy
      • Identify specifications
      • Develop a schedule
        • Who is going to do what, and when
        • What resources are needed (and when)
    • Next, a prototype is built and design reviews are conducted to solicit ideas/critiques of the current design
    • The current design is tested and iteratively refined until a solution meeting the specifications is achieved
      • The design may continue to be refined in order to further optimize the product (iteration loop)
    • The final step is commercialization, where the product is made available to, and marketed to, customers. Customer feedback gathered for product improvement.

Slide 3

  • The Sound Activated Dragster must:
    • Begin with the sound of the starting¬† 'gun'
      • 2 piecs of wood slapped together, etc.
    • Stop when it reaches the finish line
    • Stay within its racing lane
      • Create a center line that is the same color as the finish line and any dragster that strays out of its lane should come to a stop
    • Cover the track in the shortest possible time
      • Track length should be at least 12 feet, but not more than 25 feet. Making an EV3 bot go straight over a long distance can be very challenging. The optimal trade off between speed (top speed) and power (acceleration) will vary with the length of the track
      • Encourage students to find the optimal gear ratio, minimize friction, and build a rigid/balanced structure.
    • Use only parts from one kit
      • Wheel size is another key factor - if you have access to wheel sizes other than those in the kit, these can be another key variable

Provide students copies of the Sound-Activated Robo-Dragster Task Assignment Sheet.

Have students document the steps of the Engineering Process (restate challenge in their own words, identify related web sites, etc.) that they use in developing their dragster. This Engineering Process Log Word file may be used to document these steps.

Have students share their designs with the class.

Conduct a double-elimination drag racing tournament (so each team races at least twice).  This site may be used to create an on-line race bracket, or this one for Word format.