Robotic Power System Activity Guide

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Introduction

The Power System activity is designed to help teachers bring high tech making into the classroom. This is a multi-day activity, and consists of building a physical model of Ontario's electricity system together! It will have models of each kind of electricity generation type: nuclear, wind, hydro-electric, etc. We'll bring craft materials, and you will ask the kids ahead of time to bring in recycled materials.

This activity was designed with Ontario's power system in mind, but can easily be adapted for any other location.

Curriculum Connections

This activity has many specific connections to the Ontario grade 6 curriculum. This makes it easier to dedicate the classroom time to it, since progress is being made on this curriculum.

Science

The Ontario grade 6 science curriculum is available online here: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/scientec18currb.pdf

Core concepts of the Electricity unit covered:

  • Electrical energy can be transformed into other forms of energy.
  • Other forms of energy can be transformed into electrical energy.
  • Electrical energy plays a significant role in society, and its production has an impact on the environment.
  • Society must find ways to minimize the impact of energy production on the environment.

Math

The Ontario grade 6 math curriculum is available online here: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/math18curr.pdf

Core concepts covered:

  • Problem solving
  • Fractions and percentages
  • Collection and Organization of Data
  • Representations of mathematical ideas

Art

The Ontario grade 6 art curriculum is available online here: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/arts18b09curr.pdf

Core concepts covered:

  • Creating and Presenting
  • Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing
  • Exploring Forms and Cultural Contexts

Materials

Parts and materials to obtain:

Equipment

  • Computer(s)
  • Soldering iron and soldering supplies
  • 3D Printer

For the 3D printer, we recommend Ultimaker or Printrbot. Both companies make very good quality printers, consistently scoring near the top in Make Magazine's 3D Printer tests. Ultimaker is more expensive, but is also easier to use and maintain.

Electronics

The Particle Photon does not put out enough electrical current to directly power the motors. The motor driver board is required to amplify the Particle's output and power the motor(s).

Craft supplies

  • Glue guns
  • Recycled materials such as cardboard tubes, boxes, plastic cases
  • Craft foam for colour details
  • Foamcore sheet for the base
  • Duct tape
  • Any other craft materials you like!

Preparation

In addition to ordering the materials, you must also plan for the sessions.

Seek out a way to present the power system model when it is complete. This gives the kids a purpose - they are going to actually use the model to teach people about our power system.


Session 1

The goals of the first session are to introduce the concept to get the kids thinking about the power system, and to introduce them to the technologies that they will use to build their model.

Introduce concept

Start with telling the kids that they are all science centre exhibit designers! This is a real project to teach science to kids and adults. The first step is to start a discussion about what makes a good exhibit. Guide them towards these key points:

  • Information
  • Interaction
  • Fun!

Next, dissect some existing exhibits that they have seen in science centres and museums. Start a google document with their favourites, and have them work in groups adding this information about each one:

  • Find a picture of the exhibit
  • What does it teach you?
  • List the good things about the exhibit

This google doc will be useful for assessing the students understanding later.

Introduce technology

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- Plan the physical model - Gauge tech interest and existing skills