Students work as physicists to understand centripetal acceleration concepts. They also learn about a good robot design and the accelerometer sensor. They also learn about the relationship between centripetal acceleration and centripetal force governed by the radius between the motor and accelerometer and the amount of mass at the end of the robot's arm. Students graph and analyze data collected from an accelerometer, and learn to design robots with proper weight distribution across the robot for their robotic arms. Upon using a data logging program, they view their own data collected during the activity. By activity end , students understand how a change in radius or mass can affect the data obtained from the accelerometer through the plots generated from the data logging program. More specifically, students learn about the accuracy and precision of the accelerometer measurements from numerous trials.
Engineering Inquiry Lessons
Students use ultrasonic sensors and LEGO© MINDSTORMS© NXT robots to emulate how bats use echolocation to detect obstacles. They measure the robot's reaction times as it senses objects at two distances and with different sensor threshold values, and again after making adjustments to optimize its effectiveness. Like engineers, they gather and graph data to analyze a given design (from the tutorial) and make modifications to the sensor placement and/or threshold values in order to improve the robot's performance (iterative design). Students see how problem solving with biomimicry design is directly related to understanding and making observations of nature.
The learning of linear functions is pervasive in most algebra classrooms. Linear functions are vital in laying the foundation for understanding the concept of modeling. This unit gives students the opportunity to make use of linear models in order to make predictions based on real-world data, and see how engineers address incredible and important design challenges through the use of linear modeling. Student groups act as engineering teams by conducting experiments to collect data and model the relationship between the wall thickness of the latex tubes and their corresponding strength under pressure (to the point of explosion). Students learn to graph variables with linear relationships and use collected data from their designed experiment to make important decisions regarding the feasibility of hydraulic systems in hybrid vehicles and the necessary tube size to make it viable.