Robotics class teaches science and math in a fun way

Students may not realize it yet, but the Robotics class now being offered to Norfolk Collegiate’s seventh-grade students is a combination of technology, engineering and mathematics in one course. Yet, to the students, the class is simply fun.

“It’s a language, it is hands on, teamwork and invention all in one,” said Science Teacher Claire Fornsel. The class is the first of its kind offered by Collegiate and is part of the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 series in which students build robots and use software to plan, test and modify the sequences to be able to affect the robot’s behavior. 

“It’s creativity at its best,” said Fornsel, who is leading the class. Although the program is in its infancy, the students have spent the last two weeks building their robots and getting the basics of the programming brick, which serves as the heart and brain of the robots and allows students to manipulate the bots maneuvers. The robots are equipped with sensors that detect movement and color. As the course progresses, students will be able to gather and analyze data from sensors on the robots using data logging functionalities. 

For now, Fornsel has been busy getting the students acclimated to the robots, including working with the students by measuring distance using the sensors on the robots and the wheels’ revolutions to determine how far it will take the robots. 

“It’s a program language,” said Fornsel. If the students want to make the robots travel three feet, they need to determine how many wheel revolutions it will take and then convert that into the number of feet they need it to travel. “It requires logical thinking to program it. It also requires engineering and at the end, there will be a robot.” 

The first set of students have enjoyed getting their robots built and in the beginning stages of being operational. They admit, though, it hasn’t been without its challenges, including working in groups and learning the basic programming. 

While it's early in the course, one thing is certain, “it is robotics and it is fun,” said Fornsel.