It’s been a long time in the making but now…. the flame has been lit… the Olympians have circuited the arena… the audience is seated…all eyes are on the contestants…. the excitement builds… the crowd becomes silent as the commentator picks up the microphone and loudly announces… Let the Robot Olympics begin!
As we discussed in our last STEM inspiration post, using a sporting context can be an excellent way to engage students in robotics – Gooooal. It’s also heaps of fun!
Today, we’re using the example of the Olympics as our context for robotics. You may have seen the Japanese robot demonstrating perfect 3 point shooting technique at half-time of the USA vs France basketball game.
Robolympics Shot-Put event
Our chosen sport for this example is Shot-Put! This is an event where the athlete throws a very heavy round ball as far as possible. What better event to test our Fable robot? We’ll be incorporating design, coding and robotics into a hands-on series of STEM lessons. We are focusing on years 5-6 in this example but this can easily be adapted to Years 7-8 or 9-10 (or more experienced students) by including some of the expansion ideas listed below the example.
- Lego blocks
- Table tennis balls
- Measuring tape
- Fable Joint module
- Lego adaptor plate
Students will work in teams of 3 to design, build and code their own shot-putting robotic arm. The throwing arm should have a joint module and a platform for the ball. This is particularly important to consider when designing the lego arm. Using design thinking, each team comes up with a number of different arm designs to test. The lego throwing arm the team eventually accepts will be the one they use in the Robolympics shot-put event.
Core: Digitech & Design Tech
|Core Curriculum||Australian Curriculum Link||Year Level|
|Digital Technology||Design, modify and follow simple algorithms involving sequences of steps, branching, and iteration (repetition) (ACTDIP019 – Scootle )||Yr 5/6|
|Acquire, store and validate different types of data, and use a range of software to interpret and visualise data to create information (ACTDIP016 – Scootle )||Yr 5/6|
|Design Technology||Select appropriate materials, components, tools, equipment and techniques and apply safe procedures to make designed solutions (ACTDEP026 – Scootle)||Yr 5/6|
|Investigate characteristics and properties of a range of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment and evaluate the impact of their use (ACTDEK023 – Scootle )||Yr 5/6|
|Maths||Solve problems involving division by a one digit number, including those that result in a remainder(ACMNA101 – Scootle )||Yr 5|
|Use efficient mental and written strategies and apply appropriate digital technologies to solve problems (ACMNA291 – Scootle )||Yr 5|
|Interpret and compare a range of data displays, including side-by-side column graphs for two categorical variables (ACMSP147 – Scootle )||Yr 6|
|English||Understand that the pronunciation, spelling and meanings of words have histories and change over time (ACELA1500 – Scootle )||Yr 5|
|Understand how to use knowledge of known words, word origins including some Latin and Greek roots, base words, prefixes, suffixes, letter patterns and spelling generalisations to spell new words including technical words (ACELA1526 – Scootle )||Yr 6|
|Science||Identify, plan and apply the elements of scientific investigations to answer questions and solve problems using equipment and materials safely and identifying potential risks (ACSIS103 – Scootle )||Yr 6|
If we were to include this in a secondary classroom, the curriculum areas we would focus on would include:
- Digital technology, for example: (ACTDIK024 – Scootle ); (ACTDIP028 – Scootle ); (ACTDIK034 – Scootle )
- Design technology, for example, (ACTDEK031 – Scootle ); (ACTDEP039 – Scootle ); (ACTDEK043 – Scootle )
- Science, for example, (ACSIS126 – Scootle ); (ACSIS130 – Scootle ); (ACSIS148 – Scootle ); (ACSIS174 – Scootle )
- English, for example, (ACELA1528 – Scootle ); (ACELA1541 – Scootle ); (ACELA1550 – Scootle ); (ACELA1573 – Scootle )
- Mathematics, for example, (ACMSP171 – Scootle ); (ACMSP207 – Scootle ); (ACMMG221 – Scootle ); (ACMMG222 – Scootle )
- Health and Physical Education, for example, (ACPMP087 – Scootle ); (ACPMP088 – Scootle ); (ACPMP106 – Scootle )
Suggested Unit breakdown
Week 1. STEM / English / HPE (45mins)
Discuss the Olympic games and the various sports included
What were the students’ favourite sports to watch and why
Discuss the sport of Shot-Put. Did any of the students watch this event?
Discuss the rules of shot-putUse worksheets to look up relevant words and use them in sentences.
Take the class outside to have a go at shot-putting
Discuss what they need to think about when doing this, e.g. safety, rules of the game, how they measure how far the ball goes, etc.
Week 2. Digital Tech (45mins)
Build our robots
Program the robot to move using Blockly
Code the robot to spin
Week 3. Digital Tech (45min)
Attach the Fable throwing arm to the robot
Program robot to throw ball using basic Blockly
Code the robot to throw a ball using the Fable throwing arm
Using the Fable throwing arm, throw the ball 3 times and measure how far it goes using a table and work out the average distance thrown
Throw the ball 20 times and using the formula* below work out the frequency the ball travelled a observed distance
Week 4. Mathematics / Digital Tech / STEM (45mins)
Reflect on code:
How can we make our code better?
Identify any problems with original code.
Based on reflections, test and trial different ways of programming robot using blockly;
Share what you have learnt – what worked & what didn’t work.
Week 5. Design Tech / Digital Tech / STEM (45min)
Using design thinking, design a Lego block throwing arm for the Fable robot
Student teams can design their own team flags to fly at the robot shot put event.
Week 6. Design Tech / Digital Tech / STEM (45mins)
Build our robots
Build the throwing Lego arm based on the accepted design
Adjust the coding for the robot to throw the ball using the Lego throwing arm
Using the Lego throwing arm, throw the ball 3 times and measure how far it goes using a table
Work out the average distance
Throw the ball 20 times and using the formula* below work out the frequency the ball travelled an observed distance.
Week 7. Mathematics / Digital Tech / STEM (45mins)
Compare the data between the Fable throwing arm and the Lego throwing arm. Which one threw the furthest? What about on average?
Each team looks up the shot-put records for a historical (past) olympic game and completes a similar analysis (e.g. for 2021/ 2016/ 2012/ etc.)
Program the robot to spin and release the ball as a real Olympic shot-putter would.
Compare the average size of an Olympic athlete shot-putter to the size of your fable robot. Taking into consideration the size discrepancies between the average human shot-putter and our Fable robot, determine if the average distance the ball can be thrown is similar.
Week 8. Design Tech / Digital Tech / HPE / STEM (45mins)
As a class, create the rules of the Robolympics Shot-Put event
As a class, design an Olympic platform for the robots to stand on (try to include enough levels for each team’s robot)
Design the medals for your robots
Build Robolympic platform
Design an arena for the robots to circle around with their flags prior to the start of the Robolympics
Will you have a Robolympic “flame”? What could this look like?
Week 9. Digital Tech (45mins)
Test and edit code before week 10 Robolympics
Program robot to respond to a colour to throw the ball (‘shot-put’)
Week 10. STEM / Digital Tech (45mins)
Teams compete to see which robot can throw the furthest using the Lego arm they have designed
To expand these sessions further, we suggest:
- Include rotating – spin module
- Include colour recognition to start
- Use Advanced Blockly rather than Simple Blockly
- Use Python rather than Blockly (especially at secondary level)
Learn more about Fable here