What’s Nxt in Nanotechnology?
Principal Investigator: Linda Hamilton
Organization: Linda Hamilton of Marshall University Math department and Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian Transportation Institute (RTI)
Address: 14 Dickson Lane
Phone #: 304 696 3043 Math Dept.
(304) 696-7166 Red Rover Mars Station South Pole2 and SENSORS CITY
Total Budget: $10,000
Request from the Consortium: $5,000
Support from other sources: $5,000
Signature and Date:
Abstract, Goals and Objectives
The little yellow computer that students program to solve science,
math, and technology problems is moving to the Nxt stage on the next FIRST
LEGO League (FLL) challenge in Nanotechnology. I have used the yellow RCX
for my LEGO projects since they came out in 1998. The Nxt is the new, intelligent
LEGO brick connecting intelligent servo motors, new and improved sensors,
a rechargeable battery, Bluetooth communication, and new MINDSTORMS NXT
software platform. In the past I have worked with teachers and students
in over 20 Cabell County and the surrounding area schools to successfully
build and program robotic projects on simulated Mars terrain. During
the last two years, the FLL program’s themes have involved: 1) solving
the sorts of problems that people with different abilities face while overcoming
every day challenges, and 2) solving some of the environmental problems
that are affecting the world’s oceans. I am interested in continuing
this program with the two West Virginia NASA Explorer Schools - Mt. View
Middle School and Tucker Valley Elementary and Middle School - as well
as Huntington area schools, and discovering what students can learn through
the FLL’s 2006 challenges.
As our past LEGO programs have demonstrated, math, science, and technology become personally internalized by students when they become involved in building things with their own minds and hands. The results from previous funding of this program have been extensive. I go into classrooms where boys and girls have been equally recruited to participate in program activities. Each year, all-girl teams and teams with minorities have been very successful in FIRST LEGO League (FLL) International Robotics contests. We believe that when girls are equally successful in computer programming and practical use of technology it will help them to be successful in their future efforts.
The LEGO Red Rover at Davis Creek Elementary Mars has operated continuously since 1998 and has been teleoperated by people allover the world. The Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian Transportation Institute (RTI) is interested in the engineering education possibilities of robotics, especially the Red Rover Internet operation and hands-on transportation robotics building and programming. As a result, RTI supports a Red Rover site at Marshall University. Chris Rogers, the RoboLab software developer, has included me in his SENSORS grant. So, there is RoboLab programming and Internet data logging from the SENSORS CITY available to any interested person in the world.
The LEGO City and Mars sites are freely available to students and their schools. The classes I have worked in and teachers I have trained and worked with have produced students competent enough to talk to Cabell County Board of Education members, parents and other students. Last year, FLL teams in West Virginia were fortunate enough to have international connections with a team in Norway. During one of my summer training weeks, three people came for robotic programming and building training. Throughout the year the two groups exchanged programs and pictures. It was much like the exchange of ideas and learning in Saturday Team times in person at Marshall. The Norwegian team went on to win awards in the Scandinavian tournament. Clearly, training does not always have to be in the same location.
This project seeks to work with teachers to develop LEGO Robotics programs for fifth through eight grade students in the two West Virginia NASA Explorer Schools, as well as Huntington area schools. The project’s primary objective is to engage students in building and programming robots and actively learning such things as team building, problem solving, creativity, and analytical thinking. During these exercises, the students will be exposed to key concepts of math, science, computer technology, social studies, communications and other areas, as directed by the State of West Virginia’s Content Standards and Objectives. Another project goal is to introduce transportation and other engineering related careers to these students so they may consider continuing their education in one of these many fields.
Project Implementation Methods
Groups work on challenges (including the FIRST LEGO League International Robotics Challenge) at appropriate times during class, after school, or during Saturday enrichment programs. Students will engage in programming and hands-on building activities using engineering principles. While performing these tasks, they will follow and expand on student and teacher building instructions. Instructors employed by the Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian Transportation Institute (RTI) will undertake to match this effort.
The Rahall Transportation Institute is a national University Transportation Center housed at Marshall University. The methodology for program delivery is worked-out on an individual basis with each school. School visits are made weekly or bi-weekly either in the classroom or after school. We find it is more effective to work with two to four students at each session during a regular scheduled class to avoid disruption to teaching schedules. As a math teacher, I find it extremely easy to make a student hands-on project fit in with regular classroom topics. The LEGO Educational teacher materials make it easy for classroom teachers to do the same. After the students have been sufficiently introduced to engineering and have learned to program LEGO robotics, the entire group works on building and programming large projects, such as cities. One to five day workshops are also effective in bringing in other classes and instructing teachers. Classroom activities include graphing data and operating robotic vehicles over the Internet, from one room to another, and at Marshall University’s Mars Station, South Pole and other Mars stations.
For the teams planning to go to the West Virginia State FIRST LEGO League tournament, there will be an intense 8-week period of teacher, parent, mentor, and student involvement. This preparation will take place both during and outside of school time to prepare for the 10 missions of the International challenge. Preparation also includes a research project on nanotechnology that the students will present at the FLL tournament.
• Register Robotics Teams before September.
• Mid-September the FLL International Challenge is announced.
• Early fall order and purchase gears, motors, and other building materials, as well as the team sets.
• Determine ways to accommodate other students in addition to those previously presenting their interest.
• This will include some after school projects in current schools and weekend “Team Time” at the Marshall University Marrow Library public technology area.
• Work with each group from September through December on building and programming projects.
• Assist with organization for the research presentation.
• In mid-October register teams travel to State Tournament.
• November - present projects to principals, parents, and other classrooms.
• December - go to tournament.
• Work with teachers during the school year with classes that are using the hands-on tools of these LEGO educational materials for covering specific objectives in math and science.
Supplies and LEGO Nxt
Educational materials -Team sets and extra motors $300 each for 12 groups $3,600
FIRST LEGO League and Tournament registration $200 each for 5 teams $1,000
Software RoboLab Nxt $400
Salary and equipment from RTI $5,000
Evidence of Supportive Collaboration
Using LEGO Robotics in TAG classes has been so successful that the Cabell County that the Board of Education’s TAG director has added LEGO educational materials in two more classes.
School teachers in regular classes have appreciated me coming into their classes to add to a graphing session or other math and science related topic.
The Red Rover Internet connections at Spring Hill Elementary Math and TAG classes exist because of the support of the school’s teachers, principal, and the Cabell County School Board.
Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian Transportation Institute (RTI) supports the Red Rover site at Marshall University.
Tufts University's Chris Rogers, the RoboLab software developer, has included me in his SENSORS grant. He continues to assist with RoboLab programming for SENSORS CITY.
The Planetary Society lists me as a “Success Story” on their website and has me “beta testing” the latest versions of its Mars Stations Red Rover.
Methods for Evaluating Project Effectiveness
• Using the robotics rubric that was reworked last year for FLL, we will compare the results of the old and new platforms.
• The Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian Transportation Institute will conduct the group skills assessment and compile the data.
• Students and teachers will be surveyed pre and post on computer
use and science, math, and technology interest. Where parents are involved
they will be surveyed also.
Plans for Publicizing the Project
Newspapers and TV have been extremely generous in covering the ongoing activities and final contests. As in the past, I will go to WV State Science Teacher Convention and other conventions. For completeness, I post pictures and descriptions of each activity on http://www.marshall.edu/LEGO.
Mrs. Linda Hamilton, B.S., M.A.
• Marshall University math instructor
• Parent volunteer at Davis Creek Elementary
• Director of LEGO Educational projects at Davis Creek Elementary
• Teacher of LEGO classes after school enrichment
• Math technology, science, and robotics teacher at Marshall University Continuing Education Children's College
• Taught math, science, and elementary education in Ecuador, Pakistan, Rhode Island, Montana, North Carolina, Florida
• 30 years experience building LEGO projects
• Bachelor of Science degree in Math Education
• Master of Arts degree in Mathematics
• Presenter to local, state, and national Math and Science Teacher Conventions
• Beta tester for Mars Stations Red Rover - a part of the Red Rover Goes To Mars project of The Planetary Society, LEGO, and NASA
• Administrator at SENSORS, Science and Engineering NASA Site of Remote Sensing of Tufts University, SENSORSCITY
WebPages and pictures on http://www.marshall.edu/LEGO
Web camera on http://legocamera.marshall.edu/
Teleoperate LEGO CITY at http://lego.marshall.edu/
NASA site of Remote Sensing on http://sensorscity.marshall.edu/