Instructional Material: Don Domes: Advice - Equipment Needs

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Advice: Robotics Equipment Needs

1. Number of kits needed:


I suggest one Mindstorms or NXT kit per two students. You should also have a couple spare kits to hand to students who need to work individually. An additional 10% of your kits should be parts kits to keep the other kits complete. I also use the small yellow kits for gears study, as these are quick to inventory and only cost $20 each. For the $200 cost of one Mindstorm kit I can have 10 Gears mini sets. The number from the Pitsco catalog for a gears mini set is K779610. The gears worksheet can be completed from the gears mini set. If you are using NXT I suggest you also get an expansion set that Pitsco calls an Education Resource Set. It is Pitsco number K979648 and costs $59. You need as close to a one-to-one ratio of these resource sets to your NXT sets as you can afford.


2. Number of computers needed:


I suggest you have one computer per team. Then add about 25% more computers so that if your student’s computer does not work they can just move to another computer.


These are ideal numbers and almost everyone starts with less than an ideal situation.


3. White boards for challenges and FLL tables:


Home Depot and Lowe’s both sell the white tile board material we use for challenges. This material is thin and easy to store. Home Depot will cut it for you at a nominal cost. Look for the material in the paneling materials area. I use black electrical tape to create lines for various challenges. The incline plane challenge will probably need a stiff support under the tile board. I have created some FLL challenge tables with a foam core substance that is ¾ inch thick rather than using the plywood recommended in the FLL instructions. These are not as strong as plywood, but they are very flat and have lower weight. Dents can be patched with sheet rock mud and sanded.


4. Spare parts systems:


I use a set of flat organization plastic containers for the most common parts like gears, connector pins, and axels. is a great source for parts that you need. I have a couple clear plastic tubs for general parts. Students can spend a lot of time looking for parts if you don’t have an organization system. You have to balance time spent organizing with the time spent looking for parts. My students inventory their Mindstorm and NXT kits and try to complete each challenge with the parts they have in their kit. I allow students to get up to 20 additional parts.


Be sure to educate your custodial people that you are using LEGO and students may loose parts on the floor. I have custodial leave the parts they find on top of my overhead projector. 

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