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Coding/Robotics Lessons: Grade 6

Lesson 1 + 2

Amazing Maze

This lesson teaches students how to use Scratch V2 on the desktop computers. This activity asks the students to create a maze game that uses key press events. When the ‘Up’ arrow key is pressed, the sprite will move up. To stop the sprite when it hits a wall, the students will test for colour and sensor interactions by coding the wall and the selected sprite accordingly.

Here is an example of the activity https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/26907823/. 

Lesson 3

Electronics: Understanding the basics of Robotics and System Engineering

 

LESSON 1 FOCUS:

Create a FLASHING LED LIGHT CIRCUIT

Have you seen those red flashing lights at a railway crossing? Or how about on house and car alarms? These examples work in exactly the same way as this simple LED project.

All the parts you need for this project can be found in the circuit kits prepared for you by Mr Kelly. See the picture below…

This project will require the following components which can be found inside your kit:

Resistor: 1 470Ω resistor (This has a yellow, violet, brown and gold band).

Semiconductor: 1 5mm flashing light-emitting diode (LED). 

Baseboard and Spring Connectors: 1 blue plastic baseboard with 4 spring connectors. 

Battery: 1 6V battery and 1 battery snap connector.   

Wire: 1 strip of silver wire measuring about 10cm in length.  

Below is a schematic (or diagram) of the circuit that we will create in this lesson. (Note: It is a U.S standard schematic which looks slightly different to the European standard schematic.) You can see the positive and negative battery terminals, the resistor and the flashing LED. In your mathematics books, draw the schematic on a new page and include the labels. You will need to refer back to it at the end of the lesson.

The Lesson:

  • Start by gathering all your materials (as seen in the diagram above). Use the plastic red lid of the kit to gather your materials.
  • Place the components and the wire links on the plastic baseboard as shown in the wiring diagram. Start by connecting the spring-clips.
  • Connect the flashing LED last. Ensure you have selected the”self-flashing” type. The easy way to tell it apart from the ordinary LED is to look into its red dome lens. You should see a tiny patch of black inside. (This is the silicon chip which switches the LED on and off).
  • Follow the wiring diagram (baseboard layout at the top of this post) and install the components on the baseboard using the clip springs.
  • Make sure the LED goes the right way around – the longer wire should connect to the resistor and the shorter wire to the negative battery terminal.
  • If everything is set, connect the battery and you should see the LED flashing at a rate of about once a second.
  • Take the circuit apart carefully and return all components to the kit.

The Science and Engineering! What did we learn from this lesson? 

Although you can’t see them, there are a number of resistors, transmitters and capacitors built into the LED which work together to form a flashing or oscillating circuit. The 470Ω resistor in series with the LED and the battery limits the current flow through the LED to a safe value. Without the resistor, the LED would quickly burn out and be destroyed.

Once power is applied, a complete circuit is made and current flows from the battery’s positive terminal, through the resistor, through the LED and its internal circuitry and then back out to the battery’s negative terminal.

Word of the Project: Resistors

A resistor represents a given amount of resistance in a circuit. Resistance is a measure of how the flow of electric current is opposed or “resisted.” It is defined by Ohm’s law which says the resistance equals the voltage divided by the current.

Resistance = voltage/current
or
R = V/I

Resistance is measured in Ohms. The Ohm is often represented by the omega symbol: Ω.

The symbol for resistance is a zigzag line as shown below. The letter “R” is used in equations.


Resistor Symbol

Electronic Buzzboard

Here is a project that will test your nerves and dexterity. Try and get the probe from one side of the hazard wire to the other without touching it and setting off the buzzer. If you have a shaky hand, you could have real trouble.
All the parts you require are in the kids that Mr. Kelly has prepared for you.

This project will require the following components which can be found inside your kit:

200mm of tinned (i.e plated) copper wire

Baseboard and Spring Connectors: 1 blue plastic baseboard with 5 spring connectors. 

Battery: 1 6V battery and 1 battery snap connector.   

Buzzer: 1 6V buzzer.

The Lesson

  • Attach the paper template and place the components in position on the plastic baseboard, just as they are shown on the writing diagram.
  • Make sure that the buzzer is connected into the circuit the right way around. The positive lead (red wire) should go to the hazard wire and the negative lead to the battery negative terminal.
  • You can make the probe yourself by simply forming a loop with one of the pieces of wire. The hazard wire can be made the same way – simply put a number of bends and curves in a piece of tinned copper wire.
  • The smaller you make the loop on the probe, the harder it will be to get from one end of the hazard wire to the other.
  •  To test the project, simply touch the probe to the hazard wire and the buzzer should sound. If it doesn’t, check that the buzzer is connected correctly.

Challenge: Where would you put an LED if you wanted a light to go on as well as the buzzer? 

The Science and Engineering! What did we learn from this lesson? 

This project builds on the ideas we have already learned about. We can control the current through a circuit by making or breaking a connection. Whether it is done inside a flashing LED, by a switch or by two pieces of wire the results are the same. When the probe touches the wire, a closed circuit is formed which allows current to flow from the battery positive terminal through the wire, through the buzzer and back to the battery negative terminal.

Word of the Project: Probe

Mission to Mars!  

Learning to create circuits is lots of fun! Understanding what a circuit is and how it works (systems engineering) is important, as it gives us an idea of how robots work! Next week, we are going to start building our own robots and write our own code! Before we do that however, we need to hone our critical and creative thinking skills (which are very important when learning to build robots and write code). That brings us to today’s lesson! Today, we’re going to space! Okay we’re not – but we’re going to pretend we are!

Welcome to Mars!

Mars rover is an automated motor vehicle that propels itself across the surface of the planet Mars upon arrival. Rovers have several advantages over stationary landers: they examine more territory, and they can be directed to interesting features, they can place themselves in sunny positions to weather winter months, and they can advance the knowledge of how to perform very remote robotic vehicle control. They are very intelligent robots and they run complex coded algorithms to send information back to Earth!  Today, we are going to get a feel of what it’s like to be a MARS rover. 

Fun Fact: As of 2018, there have been four successful robotically operated Mars rovers. 

In this lesson, you will pretend to be a Mars Rover! You have been sent to Mars to gather information about an item you cannot see, using limited senses. The item is in the bag! You (the robotic Mars Rover) have limited equipment to use to gather data. What type of senses can you name? 

During this lesson, you will do what a robot does when it is gathering data about something new! It relies on previous knowledge (or memory), sensors (similar to the senses we have (sight, sound, touch, etc) and makes very simple algorithmic guesses at what an object might be. 

Have you heard the story about the ‘Mystery Rock on the Red Planet?’

This is what the robot and the scientists had to do.

  1.  Gather data through observations using the senses of sight and touch.
  2.  Make inferences (based on evidence and reasoning) about hidden items based upon the data collected.
  3.  Develop a conclusion based upon the results of this activity.

Why this lesson? This lesson helps to develop critical thinking skills and understanding of how some simple robots and their code work based on a true Mission to Mars story.

What did we learn?

When a robot is built and coded for a purpose, it needs to be done in a way that makes sense. It is not a human being! It can’t reason or think for itself. It needs instructions and guidance! It needs very precise information to be programmed into it’s brain to work. It may be able to store information and make an inference based on what it ‘think’ it sees or feels, but that is about it. Hopefully, this lesson made you think about how a robot’s brain works! That was what I hoped you leant.

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