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Design Team Challenge

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Keywords: databases, Still photography, Robotics, comparative data
Subject(s): Photography, Algebra, Technology, Science, Math
Grades 4 through 8
School: Avondale Meadows Upper ES, Rochester Hls, MI
Planned By: Laura Amatulli
Original Author: Laura Amatulli, Rochester Hls
The purpose of the Design Team Challenge is for students to learn and apply science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) vocabulary and concepts by building, testing, racing, and presenting robotics projects at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum. Living in “Automation Alley,” only 10 minutes from Chrysler World Headquarters, we wanted to design a program that would help students understand our surrounding automotive community. We also wanted to encourage students to pursue careers in math, science, the auto industry, and other technical related fields. Having this close proximity allowed us to take advantage of the abundant opportunities like Chrysler’s “World of Work” program. A survey of local engineers in the industry helped to define what cutting edge skills are needed for STEM careers. These engineers also served as mentors and judges for our project.

Skills needed:
Cooperation, Programmable Controls, Analog, Problem Solving, Distribution of data, Understanding of the Bell Curve, Power Point, Artificial Intelligence, Use of Mean, Median, Mode, Wheel and Axle, Creativity

1) Cooperatively build an electronic robot using schematics and materials in teams of 3-4.
2) Program the robot to follow directions.
3) Make the robot individualistic using personal creativity with limited teacher direction.
4) Create an obstacle course for the robot to follow.
5) Test performance of the robots.
6) Gather, measure, and record data on the robot’s capabilities using Excel.
7) Statistically analyze data using a “Bell Shaped Curve.”
8) Apply concepts of distribution of data and research methodology, like Six Sigma, to the robotics project.
9) Use the data to improve the performance of the robot.
10) Create a culminating Power Point presentation to demonstrate knowledge gained including data analysis of the robot.
11) Meet local role models in the field that can be used as a resource.
12) Attend a field trip to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum to witness the evolution of automotive technology and how car design and manufacturing has improved over time.

The Design Team Challenge has a number of unique and creative outlets. Such as the robot fashion show which tests the creativity of the participants. After each robot and obstacle course is designed, the girls are allowed to add their own unique features. Excitement runs high as students add crystal gemstones, glitter, puffy paint, and even iridescent stickers. These designs are computer generated at first. Students take a digital picture of their robot and use paint to design their unique decorations. Some enhancements include buzzers, timers, lights, and other electronic features. They asked if they could create a video called America’s Next Top Robot, which has turned out to be a lot of fun. Video equipment is needed to enhance this aspect of the project. Students are interested in posting this on a website and sharing their efforts with others. These creative personal touches have really contributed to the excitement and interest level of the culminating project.

Fifth and Sixth grade students make different robots concentrating on diverse skills, and holding interest levels over a two year span. This creates a continuum for the enhancement of robotic skills. The fifth grade group builds a remote control robot called Marty the Martian which contains a circuit board that controls the robot. They actually program the remote control to direct robotic movement over an obstacle course, uniquely designed and built by the students. They are then timed on how quickly and efficiently their robot passes through the course.The sixth grade robot concentrates on artificial intelligence. These robots use sensors to follow a black line and maneuver over a student created course. Both obstacle courses are graded for distinctive features. Students concentrate on various physics skills such as angles, area, perimeter, speed, distance, acceleration, elapsed time,and velocity. The data is recorded on a spreadsheet and the mean, median, and mode times are calculated. This data then serves as an introduction to research methodology. Students use the mean, median, and mode to create a bell curve of data. Six Sigma concepts are introduced and the students work together to identify the most powerful variables to reduce variation and shift the mean. Which is a powerful tool to help them realize how to optimize their designs.

The groups also follow a tight budget. To study cost, minimizing defects, and reduction of waste we have developed a cost analysis requirement with the robots. For each extra part there is a cost. The girls must then test the product with the extra part and see if it was worth the money it cost. They run a project budget with all prices set at the beginning of the project and totals are kept through the culmination. When pieces are lost or broken a price is paid by each team. There is also a cost for waste products, this resulted in an increase in recycling. Databases and spreadsheets are used with this data, to compare and contrast.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Science, Engineering, Robotics
Materials: Database, Spreadsheet, Flash/USB Drives, Camera Bags, Digital Voice Recorders, Sports, Point and Shoot
Other Items: 15 Screw driver kits, $ 1.00 each, total of $15.00
30 Robotic Kits, $ 30.00 each, total of $900.00