School Robotics - An Engineering Service Learning Course


Kingsley Elementary School, Pomona Unified School District
Collegewood Elementary, Walnut Valley School District

Robot Rally 2007
Sumo Robot Competition 2008

School Robotics Initiative - An Outreach Initiative to Prepare Teachers and Inspire Students to Choose a Career in Engineering and Science - American Society for Engineerign Education, Pacific Southwest Annual Conference, Reno 2007 - PDF File

Why Robotics?
Robotics is increasingly being considered as the Fourth essential R (after the 3 Rs, R eading , w R iting and a R ithmetic). Robotics is a truly multi-disciplinary field which combines mechanical, electrical, electronics engineering and computer science. Even though robots are very complex machines and building robots require multidisciplinary skills, current technology makes it possible for everyone to build, program, and control their own robots. Experience indicates that learners, who are immersed in the activity, acquire important skills in math and science without realizing that they are intensively engaged in the learning process.

Mentor Activities
Attending mandatory training
Building at least three robots and programming before the visiting partner schools
Visiting partner schools every week
Understanding gracious professionalism
Getting to know each elementary school student by name
Recognizing the diversity in classrooms and understating various learning styles
Facilitating student learning at respective partner school sites
Helping students to get started and wrap up at the end of each session
Documenting interesting and unusual observations
Taking photographs of robots and practice sessions
Planning and organizing the Robot rally at Cal Poly Pomona
Final report and questionnaire
Reflection meeting

Training for Cal Poly Pomona Undergraduate Student Mentors
Mentoring is possibly the most effective method for learning. Undergraduate students from Cal Poly Pomona serve as mentors for elementary schools students and facilitate learning. Becoming an effective mentor is a process which requires commitment and engagement. EGR 200 provides a short training for undergraduate student mentors. Mentor training includes the following topics:

Role Play - The biggest fear for college students is standing up in front of a classroom full of young children. This fear can be eliminated or at least minimized by adequate preparation, which includes role-play
Understanding Personalities - Mentors are exposed to a personality test instrument. This instrument helps them to identify which of the 16 potential personality types they belong to. In addition, this test also helps them to understand the personality types of their mentees. Cal Poly Pomona Engineering students are provided access to a website that provides them a battery of four instruments; personality test, interest inventory, skill profiles and values assessment. The website for these tests can be accessed from the following link,
Understanding Learning Styles – Short introduction to Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences.
Developing Instructional Strategies – Mentors are made aware of various instructional strategies adopted by teachers and the one that school robotics initiative emphasizes, Experiential Learning.
Working with Children – Present information that will help mentors understand the characteristics, the strengths, weakness and the needs of the children whom the mentors will be working with. Present specific examples from the past.

Correlation to standards
Measurement , Problem Solving, Reasoning and Proofs, Geometry, Communications, Connections

The Nature of Technology, Design, Constancy, Change, and Measurement, Abilities for a Technological World, Form Follows Function

Systems, Order, and Organization, Evidence, Models, and Explanation, Constancy, Change, and Measurement, Evolution and Equilibrium

School Robotics - Weekly Activities

Weekly Activities

Week 1:
Ground rules
Introduction to robotics
Build your first robot

Week 2
Complete building the robot
Program your robot to go forward EXACTLY 3 m at 50% speed, turn right, go forward EXACTLY but faster 2 m, reverse 1 m EXACTLY and stop. |
What is the average speed of your robot?
Program your robot to go 2 m at full speed. Measure the time. Determine the average speed.
Follow the guidelines to program “Hit the Red Ball” Robot.

Week 3
Programming notes
Wait (you already know how to use this)
Note: Comment your code
Don't change the default port unless there is a good reason
Using sequence beam
Don't use sound/display blocks
Switching off the side menu
Check your battery
Develop “Drive in a 2-ft long Square” program using loop.
Write a program using loop to keep your robot within the specified area (ring or a rectangular area) enclosed by black line. Use light sensor.
Design, build and attach accessory unit(s) to your robot so that your robot can sweep the entire floor (3 ft-round area) in less than 20 seconds without leaving the area.
All small logo pieces on the arena must be swept off from the arena.  

Week 4-5
Open Floor exercise - Your robot must perform a series of actions on the floor. Actions can be performed in any sequence. Robots cannot leave the floor during performance.

  1. Go forward seconds when you clap and stop (use sound sensor)
  2. Go forward, detect black line, reverse and turn (use light sensor)
  3. Go forward, detect an obstacle without touching it, reverse and turn (use ultrasonic sensor)
  4. Go forward, detect an obstacle by bumping, reverse and turn (use touch sensor)

Week 6
More programming
Review Loop command
Switch command
Data hubs
Math commands

Week 7
Basic sumo robot base design
Sumo robot strategies
Big and slow vs small and fast  

Week 8
Sumo robot Competition – Rule and regulations
Sumo robot programming  

Week 9-12
Sumo Robot Design

Sumo Robot Competition at Cal Poly Pomona


©2005 Jawa Mariappan