Making Robot






This project assignment, at first consideration, seemed to me to be completely daunting and 'undoable'. What would I be able to do with this box of Lego bricks and a computer? How was I to build and program an 'object to think with' and relate the outcome to something in 'real life' that is capable of interaction with its own environment?

eager hands

Lego? Children! 'That's it!' I thought. Bring the project to the classroom and learn 'by doing with' the children how to construct a robot, any robot, to begin with. The children (a combination of 5th and 6th class pupils), eyes widened at the sight of the colourful Lego, opened my eyes as they took to the various tasks like the proverbial 'ducks to water'. During this period of trial and error I was enthralled by how quickly they completed the tasks, noting that their collaborative work seemed to effect speedy results. The barriers I had internally constructed towards the assignment began to be broken down bit by patient bit.

smart bird

While the children were examining the various effects of using the different sensors I was quietly formulating a plan for our robot and its program, having gained confidence in my own ability to follow the computer instructions and construct an interactive robot. The resultant robot, SMART BIRD, is designed and programmed to be a representation of a small injured bird and how it might instinctively behave if it found itself in the centre of a rectangular room. SMART BIRD was now our 'object to think with' and our window to the world of robotics and programming.

To effectively program SMART BIRD to perform the required tasks, it was necessary to help the children focus more carefully on the finer points of programming. They were happy to program using 'Big Blocks' only and to by-pass the bulk of the training missions. Together we decided to pay close attention to all of the step-by-step training missions before making any attempt to use the 'Small Blocks' or 'My Blocks'.

Constructing the robots for each training mission was crucial to the learning outcome and an enjoyable part of the learning experience.


The program had to be written, re-written, tried and tested many times before success was achieved.
Finally, having suffered the frustrations of working alone on this assignment, I was reminded of the benefits of reaching out for assistance when needed.


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