June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
13.66.1 - 13.66.10
A Multidisciplinary Laboratory Course: Robotic Design and Programming with Mindstorms
This work describes an introductory mechatronics/computer information systems laboratory course, Robotics with LEGO Mindstorms NXT, offered in Fall 2007. The course is designed to employ discovery-based learning in a multidisciplinary environment using robots. A current, high-profile, engineering problem, DARPA Urban Challenge, was selected to motivate students. The challenge was modified to fit the LEGO Mindstorms robotic environment available for the course. A configurable route consisting of modular route segments was developed. Our assessment metrics show exceeding of the learning objectives set for the course and high student satisfaction.
To facilitate discovery-based learning, learning in a multidisciplinary environment, and promote further development of graphical programming skills, a Robotics with LEGO Mindstorms NXT course was developed and implemented. This is a two-hour laboratory, one semester, upper division course offered within two programs at the Colorado State University - Pueblo: the Bachelor of Science in Engineering with specialization in Mechatronics program and the Computer Information Systems program.
This course was inspired by an actual robotics competition, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Urban Challenge, a 2007, $2,000,000 prize autonomous vehicle challenge to complete 60 miles in traffic in less than six hours. The challenge took place on November 3rd at Southern California Logistics Airport.
Previous Work and Justification
The major function of the Robotics with LEGO Mindstorms NXT course is to promote discovery-based active learning and knowledge systematization. Robot building is a powerful student motivational tool1. Mimicking an actual multimillion-dollar robotic prize competition2 further enhances student motivation. A set of new tools like LEGO Mindstorms Education Base Set with NXT technology (became available in August 2006) and the National Instruments LabVIEW Toolkit for LEGO Mindstorms NXT (became available for downloads in mid- December 2006) are implemented in this novel engineering design course.
The Robotics with LEGO Mindstorms NXT course is a part of the pedagogical system implemented in our Mechatronics curriculum. This pedagogical system is based on McCarthy’s3 version of the Kolb4 learning cycle and was motivated in part by work presented by Harb et al5. New concepts can be learned by following a pattern called the learning cycle exemplified by the questions why, what, how, and what if. Active discovery-based learning is considered an important part of this learning cycle, especially in engineering6. Bruner7 defines discovery
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