Day 3: Robot Buggy Lab

After a less than stellar board meeting, I decided it would be a good idea to start the AP class today by reviewing what was discussed yesterday. I gave the groups a couple of minutes to make a list of things they learned or were reminded of yesterday. Then, I used the Randomly app to call on some people and write a list on the board for the whole class. I didn’t have to guide them towards anything; they remembered all the important stuff. Crisis averted.

Once we finished, we started the Buggy Lab. 33 kids and only 5 buggies led me to replace buggies with Lego Mindstorms EV3 Robots–I’m the robotics coach at my school–and I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this sooner. This allowed me to program each group’s robot to move at a different speed, and I’m excited to see this in their results.

Buggy Lab for me plays out as a guided inquiry lab. I set up the experiment by showing the robot moving across the front counter and asking them what about the motion we can measure. This year, immediately someone said, “It’s moving at constant speed,” so I replied by asking about the difference between observations and claims. Someone said, “Claims need proof,” and just like that, we’re ready.

As I’m checking in with the groups, I notice one doing something with tape. I ask them what they’re doing, and a student replies, “Every two seconds, we’re sticking a piece of tape at the position of the robot so we can tell if it’s covering the same distance.” They made a motion diagram! I had a box of sugar packets I was saving for later for this very thing. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Kids are brilliant.

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