Students use the robot paths they documented during the associated Robots on Ice Engineering Challenge activity to learn about and then make artwork. During the previous activity, students recorded the path of their robots through a maze in order to collect data during a remote research simulation. Now, they take a new look at the robot paths, seeing them from an art perspective as continuous line drawings. Students learn about Picasso’s famous works of art that used the same technique. Then they learn the artistic definition of a line and see examples of how it is used in different art pieces; they practice making continuous line drawings and then create sculptures of their drawings using colorful wire. A PowerPoint® presentation is provided to guide the activity.
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Students learn about humankind’s search for life in outer space and how it connects to robotics and engineering. NASA is interested in sending exploratory missions to one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, which requires a lot of preparatory research and development on Earth before it can happen. One robot currently being engineered as a proof of concept for a possible trip to explore Europa is the Icefin, which is an innovative robot that can explore under ice and in water, which are the believed conditions on Europa. This lesson provides students with intriguing information about far off (distance and time!) space missions and field robotics, and also sets up two associated robotics and arts integration activities to follow. The lesson can be used individually to provide new information to students, or as a precursor to the associated activities. A PowerPoint® presentation and worksheet are provided.
In a simulation of potential future space missions to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, student teams are challenged to direct a robot placed in an enclosed maze to search for and find the most “alien life.” The robot is equipped with a camera to send a live feed of its surroundings in the maze. Students control the robot from outside the maze by looking at the live feed on a smartphone and using the robot’s remote control, making a map as they go. The student teams compete as if they are space agencies creating their own exploratory systems to meet the challenge’s criteria and constraints and prove “in the field” that they have the best plan to win the mission contract and get the job. This activity simulates the real-world research of scientists and engineers developing a robot with the capabilities to explore under the ice-covered surface of Europa.