August 22, 2014

NXT Sensors. Building robots. Typical Wednesday.

The classroom was bustling when I walked into the Tiger Woods Learning Center at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. But when TWLC teacher Mark McGlone said “Tiger” to the class, the room roared, responding, “Woods!”

That’s how the day began, with a little recognition to Tiger Woods Foundation founder Tiger Woods as a classroom device. It worked.
It’s the light sensor! 

The goal of the Tiger Woods Learning Center week-long summer session is to provide a hands-on and interactive career-focused experience. 

“Which sensor made the robot move?” Mr. McGlone asked the class. He challenged his students to find answers to his questions as well as their own. Responses come in the form of “touch,” “light” and “sound.” 

As the class discovered how the sensors worked, some students took on a teacher role and explained in detail. 

“When the sensor responds to touch, you press it down,” Zara said. “When you bump it, the sensor runs into something else.” 

I was so impressed by the students’ understanding of the sensors, as I heard them say “this one uses sonic waves like when sound waves channel through the ocean and use reflections.” 

Your mission

The students started rummaging through the box of Legos when Mr. McGlone interrupted for an announcement. He said a mission was requested for the students to create a robot that transports food from desk to desk at a local hospital. Each student was to design a robot either using the Lego Mindstorms NXT Robotics system or drawn by hand. 

“Can I copy and paste a past design?” Issac asked. 

“No, this is all your own creation,” Mr. McGlone responded. 

Most of the students claimed their spot at a computer and used the Lego computer program to build their robots. 

As I walked around the room, students told me: 

“I’m starting with the wheels so the robot can move, then I need to make a flatbed to carry the food,” Monique said. 

“This is just the start of an awesome design,” Zara said.  

“I’m going to put these parts together then make a shovel to scoop the food,” Isaac said.

It was eye-opening for me to see the students interact with one another and help each other find pieces on the Lego program. They wanted to help each other succeed at the mission, and had a little competition too, as they strived to design the perfect robot. 

The class had until the end of the week to accomplish their mission, and that is what the summer sessions at the Tiger Woods Learning Center are all about. From learning about robotics fundamentals to utilizing computer programming and design, these students were taking their education to the next level. 

To learn more about signing up for a future Tiger Woods Learning Center program or if you would like to donate to the Learning Center, please visit our website