Teaching and Learning Resources from Diane Hawkins

Kent NGfL Robolab Project
2000 - 2001


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Advanced Control Technology - Inventor Level

Two children from Year 4 and two children from Year 6 spent an afternoon with Mrs Hawkins and Dr Smith (an advisory teacher from Kent NGfL) learning how to use the Inventor level of Robolab, with a view to peer group teaching later this term. These children had already successfully programmed a set of traffic lights to work in the correct sequence, using Pilot level 4. They had also attempted to program some of the pre-designed models from the Amusement Park kit, such as the Tour Bus or Bumper Car.

The children were asked to think about home security. We discussed various features and came up with the idea of security lighting, used by many homeowners. When someone comes within range of a sensor, a strong light is switched on and the house is illuminated. The children were asked to simulate these events. They first of all built a simple house out of lego and attached a light and a light sensor. They were shown how to pick and place icons from the palette and how to string them together. With very little further help, they came up with this program, using Inventor level 3 (NASA, eat your heart out!)

Program sequence screenshot by kind permission of LabVIEW,a registered TradeMark of National Instruments

This program reads as " Start the program. When the sensor detects an object moving into its vicinity (light sensor icon), the light attached to out A will switch on. When the object moves out of the vicinity, all activity on output A should stop. End program."Having tested this program, the children were asked to build in a repeat command to their sequence.

Program sequence screenshot by kind permission of LabVIEW,a registered TradeMark of National Instruments


To the  top of the pageThis was achieved quickly by the children. Help was given in so far as it was necessary to remove some of the "string" (the pink lines linking the icons together) so that more icons could be added. These icons then had to be strung into the program, which was then tested. We discovered that the repeat command only repeated the program twice, which was not acceptable for home security! An endless loop did not seem to be an available choice, so the children opted for a repeat sequence of 100.


Program sequence screenshot by kind permission of LabVIEW,a registered TradeMark of National Instruments

The children were then challenged to add a motor into their sequence. Amy and Emily came up with this model. The Lego figure at the door of the shop is about to come into the range of the light sensor. When it does, the light sensor will activate the light and the motor. Attached to the motor spindle is a sticky label, which when the motor is turned on, revolves at high speed and makes a noise. This is the children's equivalent of the shop keeper's bell on the door, alerting him to the presence of a customer if he is not behind the counter.

Lego model photo by Diane Hawkins  

   Lego model photo by Diane Hawkins

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