NASA ePDN and Georgia Institute of Technology STEM Certificates and Self Directed Courses

NASA ePDN - Electronic Professional Development Network

Using Robotics to Enhance STEM Learning


Learn how to build and program LEGO Mindstorm robots and use them to promote student engagement and conceptual understanding of math, science and engineering. Explore robotics manipulators and end effectors like the ones NASA uses on the International Space Station, and integrate multiple sensors into your robot to allow for systematic control. Join your colleagues in the Grand Challenge to design, build, and program a robot to explore an environment and return with a sample for investigation.

Important note: LEGO Mindstorms education NXT base kit (W9797) is required throughout the course – you must have exclusive access to this kit and the associated NXT software (W900080) throughout the certificate series. The software will run on both PCs and Macs.

If you need to acquire a kit and the software you can do so by visiting LEGO Education.

Course 1: Getting Started in Robotics

In this course participants will be engaged in the use of online learning tools and will install the LEGO NXT Robotic Effector software on their computers to prepare them for programming the LEGO Mindstorms robot. You will become familiar with LEGO vocabulary and parts of the LEGO Mindstorms kit as you build structural components of a robot and use math, science, and engineering principles to design, build, test, and operate your robots. Capping off this course will be programming your robot to perform a specific task.

Course length: 6 weeks | CEU's awarded: 3.0

Course 2: Manipulators and End Effectors

Participants will examine industrial robots and how they are uniquely designed to accomplish their respective tasks. A simple end effector will be constructed and replicated with LEGO parts. Capping of this course will be the integration of manipulators into the robots designed in the previous course.

Course length: 4 weeks | CEU's awarded: 2.0

Course 3: Advanced Programming and Sensors

After working with the NXT kits to assemble a mobile robot base and explore manipulators and end effecters, the next step is to integrate the use of sensors to allow for systematic control of the robot components. In this course, students will use the sensors in the NXT kit to provide a sense of environmental navigation based on data received by the attached sensors. There will be a set of small design challenges that will explore the effectiveness of the sensor and progress to the use of the sensor to activate another prescribed action. During this time there will also be a discussion of NASA's Deep Space Communications Network and a review of some educational materials to further explore the Network's operations with students.

Course length: 2 weeks | CEU's awarded: 1.0

Course 4: Grand Challenge with the NXT Robot

Design and assemble a mobile robot that can navigate a planetary body and uses sensors to identify a specific location. Once the location is identified use a manipulator/end effector to acquire material samples for testing.

Course length: 3 weeks | CEU's awarded: 1.5