LEARNING WITH MINDSTORMS
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?
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'.
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
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