Using Lego Mindstorms EV3 in ENG 100

Using Lego Mindstorms EV3 in ENG 100

Academic Year:
2016 - 2017 (June 1, 2016 through May 31, 2017)
Funding Requested:
$445.00
Project Dates:
-
Applicant(s):
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
Many students enter the College of Engineering with previous engineering experience from Project Lead the Way courses or FIRST Robotics experience in high school. In my ENG 100 section of almost 60 students, about a third of those enrolled have had these experiences. I aim to find a way to keep these students engaged and challenged during our design-build-test class project, while not discouraging those with less experience or exposure to engineering. To help blend teams with students having a lot of experience and those very curious, but with minimal engineering experience, I would like to try having a team work with a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit as part of their design-build-test experience this semester.
Projects around the Lego platform might appeal to a mix of engineering disciplines. Those considering Mechanical Engineering may enjoy building physical prototypes quickly, while the large number of students looking to pursue programs in Computer Science or Electrical Engineering could have a chance to easily code and quickly see results. Kits, such as the Lego Mindstorms EV3 afford an opportunity to build first with instructions, where the entire team is at the same level and there is little to no risk of “failure”. Once the team (experienced and novice) sees a working device, they would be expected to build off of that experience to solve their own identified problem.
From this, I would hope to see students stay engaged with their team and project regardless of previous experience, and to observe how using robotics kits might be scaled for the entire section in future semesters.
Number of Graduate Students Affected Annually:
0 graduate students
Number of Undergraduate Students Affected Annually:
60 undergraduate students
Proposal PDF:
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:
Many students enter the College of Engineering with previous engineering experience from Project Lead the Way courses or FIRST Robotics experience in high school. In my ENG 100 section of almost 60 students, about a third of those enrolled have had these experiences. My objective was to try to find a way to keep these students engaged and challenged during our design-build-test class project, while not discouraging those with less experience or exposure to engineering.
Project Achievements:
Two teams were able to modify their open-ended design project for ENG 100 to use the Lego Mindstorm kit. Using the kit allowed them to be able to build a physical prototype more quickly than other groups and focus more attention on programming and sensors, which had been the groups' primary interest from the start, with all of the students being interested in autonomous vehicles and all leaning towards CS as major. The objective was to help blend groups of students with prior experience with those without, and in this way, the project worked. It appeared that all students were starting at the same point in using the Lego programming language, and some of the previous experience wasn't necessary or useful for this particular project. Using the kit helped two teams move further on their project than other teams that were limited by fabrication tools/ resources. Legos are quick to build with and students didn’t need to source and purchase sensors/ motors/etc. It helped to keep a team engaged that would have been otherwise less interested in the class, having decided that they all want to go CS. Having books available with beginning to advanced projects also seemed to help the entire team stay engaged. The teams were seen often using the books as part of their problem-solving.
Continuation:
This project would only continue if an entire section had access to Lego Mindstorms kits. Two teams struggled to share the single kit, and other project teams mentioned that they would have re-thought their proposed project had they know they might have access to a Lego Mindstorm kit.

The kit was given to teams that had a CS interest and with some having previous experiences and with a project idea that aligned with the kit. Others would have chosen a project more in line with the kit given the option, but were already down a physical prototype path.
Dissemination:
The books/ kit will be kept in the ENG 100 Lab and available to other sections that may wish to try using the kit in another way.