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Center for STEM Research

Overview - Preparing for the Lego League Design Challenge

Robot in Space Design Challenge and Teacher's Guide

The Lego League Design Challenge, sponsored by U.S. FIRST, is a very exciting and technologically motivating experience for middle school students, teachers, parents and friends. As part of its ongoing efforts to support science, math and engineering/technology education, the Hofstra Center for Technological Literacy commissioned three teachers to develop a design challenge that would help students learn the educational fundamentals that underpin the Lego League Design Challenge.

Patricia Poggio (Longwood (NY) Middle School) and Jim Wandizlak (Dodd Middle School, Freeport, NY) are middle school technology education teachers who have worked with extra-curricular student teams participating in the Lego League Design Challenge. Brian Schor (Dodd Middle School, Freeport, NY) is a middle school mathematics teacher who teaches with Jim. The mathematics Knowledge and Skill Builders were created by Brian. All the teachers are teacher-leaders in the NSF funded Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Partnership (MSTP) project which is demonstrating how to improve student mathematical understanding (www.hofstra.edu/MSTP ). One of the key strategies employed in MSTP is the informed design process, the design process used in this design challenge. Detailed information about informed design may be found at www.hofstra.edu/CTL. Essentially it is design that models engineering design, where new designs are built on a knowledge base of math, science and engineering/technology. This knowledge base is developed through guided Knowledge and Skill Builder activities (KSBs) students perform prior to developing their preliminary, then final, designs.

The Robot in Space Design Challenge and Teachers Guide was developed by Patricia, Jim and Brian. We wanted to create an informed design challenge that would provide students (and teachers) with the knowledge and skills necessary to have teams more effectively compete in the Lego League Design Challenge. The curriculum can be used in middle school engineering/technology classes, or it may be used in extra-curricular clubs in preparation for the contest. The knowledge, skills and abilities that students gain will support them in future math, science and engineering/technology classes. Importantly, the materials directly correlate to New York State and national standards in mathematics, science and technology education.

A Guide to the Teachers Guide.
We separated the Teachers Guide into several parts so teachers can readily select which parts they want to use.

  1. The Design Activity Specs and Layout
    This document provides the design challenge, with specifications, and the layout of the game board.
  2. Team Organizational Strategy
    This document shows one way to organize the design team in building and programming the initial robot.
  3. Design Portfolio for Robot Challenge
    This document is a middle school design portfolio following the informed design process with the required KSBs for students. Students will need more blank pages for sketches, journaling and testing.
  4. Mathematics KSBs
    This document provides many possible KSBs for teachers to use with students, or for students to work on independently. The document includes the two essential KSBs in the Design Portfolio.
    1. Appendix A - Programming PowerPoint
      This document provides a basic programming guide for the Lego brick. It uses images of computer screens.
    2. Appendix B - Robot Construction Sequence
      This PowerPoint document provides step-by-step guidance on constructing a robot. This will not be the students' final design for the Lego League Competition, but enables them to construct a simple robot. This is needed to complete KSB 1 in the Design Portfolio.