Lego NXT Mindstorms Robotics for High School
How We Use Lego Robots in Our Homeschool
My boys have always loved Legos and model building with Legos. Middle school came along and they were ready for a challenge, building ever increasingly complex models with motors from Lego. We were introduced to the Lego NXT Robot in a homeschooling group and they started to soar in their abilities to make all sorts of things with the Lego Mindstorms kit.
This lens will gather lots of our resources and experiences for you to read more about and possibly get started in your own robot building adventure. Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part. My best advice is to purchase the kit, one of the recommended books, and then take it one step at at time. There is a lot of online support for the NXT 2.0 robots and plenty of project ideas. If your child is interested in this sort of project building, they will start to self-teach and answer their own questions.
Honestly, I don't know all that much about robot building but I can research and find information for my boys to use to be on their own LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 adventure. I hope that you will find some ideas for getting started and for making your child's dream of building their very own robot come true.
Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0
This is the set my boys work with each week as part of their high school robotics course. We have used this set since it was released and it has been enough pieces and resources to build every robot so far that has been covered in the books below. It needs 8 AA batteries to run the Mindstorm brick and they last fairly long except if you are running motors a lot for the operation of your robot.
Building robots is more than a hobby with my boys. They are learning teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, how to deal with frustration, and the feeling of accomplishment once the project is finished. Priceless!
Why Robotics for High School?
First I wanted something that would spark their interest and that would be something they could do at home, on their own to start with. Both boys had participated in a Lego Mindstorms class through a local homeschooling group a few years ago and it was a big success. We were able to borrow from the teacher a Lego Mindstorms set to use at home over the summer. They enjoyed every minute of it.
Secondly, I wanted to see how the boys would handle a course that would basically be self-taught and handled on their own. One of our goals in our homeschooling is to encourage the boys to be motivated on their own to dig deeper and to go farther than what I could plan for them. Robotics is the course that will totally test that quality.
Nuts and Bolts of Our Robotics Course
They are assigned a portion in the book to read and then to follow the instructions to build a specific model. We started off with the , working our way chapter by chapter. This book gives you every step and the programs to use so your child will get some experience with the pieces and the software. Unofficial LEGO Mindstorms NXT Guide
After they build the model they get on the computer and write the programming using the step by step instructions in the book. This is where the child will either decide he likes this sort of project or not. It is fun to build the models but it takes a certain tenacity to work through the bugs in the programs, testing and fixing things as problems arise.
There is still quite a bit of room for creativity within the instructions so it is interesting to see how each son completes the task in his own way. We always started off with the models from the book and then after accomplishing the task I would ask the boys if they could come up with a way to improve the model. They usually had an idea or two and they would be off to see if they could improve the design or the programming.
After they have programmed the robot, they give a demonstration of what the robot does and we take a photograph.
Sometimes they get it right on the first try but sometimes they have to go back to the computer and figure out what they did wrong. I love the skills and qualities that this complete process brings out and then hones in my boys. They have learned a lot of great things besides model building and programming while using the NXT robots.
Lego Mindstorms Robot Dragster
Links to Projects for the Year
I usually post on my blog about our robotics projects with videos. Here are a few for you!
- Self Parking Car-Scroll Down to See the Video
NXT project from One Kit Wonder book
- Robotic Hand-Scroll Down to See the Video!
NXT project from One Kit Wonder book
- Card Reader - Scroll Down to See the Video
Project from One Kit Wonders
- Robot on a String - Scroll Down for the Video
Project from Mayan Adventure Book
Books We Used to Get Started
Since we live in an area that does not have a Lego First robotics team, we were on our own as far as getting going with the Lego NXT Mindstorms robot. My two boys have always worked well together so we decided we could build a homeschooling course around their interests and at their own speed using their own kit and some books from Amazon.com.
This was the book we used first with the kit.
This book we used our second year and we actually built the model of the tomb and completed all the tasks.
This is our third book of our course.
Don't miss the ebay auctions for the Lego NXT robots. You may catch a sweet deal.
Helpful Links - For Fun and Inspiration
- No Starch Press
This publisher has a whole line of books that you can use with your NXT robots. Great resources.
- Link to One of Our Current Books
You can read about the One Kit Wonder book here and see a video of how it works.
- Projects for NXT 1.0
My boys like to tinker around with the plans on this website. They are designed for the 1.0 but you can adapt with some extra pieces to the 2.0 Kit.
- NXT Step- Lego Mindstorms NXT Blog
Always a source of great information and videos!
- MAKE online magazine
Not just NXT but lots of inspiring ideas for your LEGO engineer.
- LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Bonus Models
Building instructions for bonus models for the 2.0.
- NXT Free Plans
More plans for your NXT.
- More Advanced NXT
There is sure to be something you can learn from this site.
Check out LEGO education for more ideas!
More Links to Help You Get Started - Lego Education has lots of great links.
- My Son's Favorite "Go To" Link on Lego Education
See how others are solving their problems....
Lego Storage Ideas
My Son's Lego Lenses Here on Squidoo
Want to see more on Legos? Try these lenses out!
Lego NXT on Ebay
Try your luck with finding a kit on Ebay!