Applying Mechatronics to Promote Science / Central Brooklyn Robotics Initiative (AMPS / CBRI)

**James Muldoon**, MS (1st. year), Computer Engineering

**Summary:** Students use ultrasonic sensors and LEGO© MINDSTORMS© NXT robots to emulate how bats use echolocation to detect obstacles. They measure the robot's reaction times as it senses objects at two distances and with different sensor threshold values, and again after making adjustments to optimize its effectiveness. Like engineers, they gather and graph data to analyze a given design (from the tutorial) and make modifications to the sensor placement and/or threshold values in order to improve the robot's performance (iterative design). Students see how problem solving with biomimicry design is directly related to understanding and making observations of nature.

**Michael Hernandez**, Ph.D. (3rd. year) Chemical and Biological Engineering

**Summary:** Students explore the natural phenomenon of gravity through the use of the LEGO Mindstorms kit and the included Data Logging software. First, students learn about the role of gravity in various phenomena such as gravity keeping a planet in orbit around the sun and free-falling objects. Students become familiar with Newton's universal law of gravitation and calculate the theoretical value for gravitational acceleration, g. Next, the students construct a simple robot design as the one illustrated in the LEGO Mindstorms manual. The students add on the robot arm attachment illustrated in the included attachment. Students actively participate in a free-fall activity using the LEGO Mindstorms software, LEGO light sensor, and Data Logging software. Students calculate an experimental value for the gravitational acceleration experienced by all objects on Earth to a reasonable approximation.

Complete Activity (pdf) | Worksheet (pdf)

**Jennifer S. Haghpanah**, Ph.D. (4th. year) Chemical and Biological Sciences

**Summary:** Students will work as engineers and learn to conduct controlled experiments by changing one experimental variable at a time and study its effect on the outcome of the experiment. Specifically, they will conduct experiments to determine the amount of motor rotations it takes to compress a soft nanocomposite such as foam, marsh mellow and possibly dough. Students will measure the length and width of the object and also measure the change in length and width as a function of motor rotations to compress the object. Students will look at different objects and understand how they can compress a material.

Complete Activity (pdf) | Worksheet (pdf)

**Jasmin Hume**, Ph.D (2nd. year), Chemical and Biological Sciences

**Summary:** Students quantify the percent of light reflected from solutions containing varying concentrations of red dye using LEGO© MINDSTORMS© NXT bricks and light sensors. They begin by analyzing a set of standard solutions with known concentrations of food coloring, and plot data to graphically determine the relationship between percent reflected light and dye concentration. Then they identify dye concentrations for two unknown solution samples based on how much light they reflect. Students gain an understanding of light scattering applications and how to determine properties of unknown samples based on a set of standard samples.

**Ryan Caeti**, M.S. (2nd. year) Mechanical Engineering

**Summary:** This activity will introduce students to the concepts of flow rate and its dependency on pipe diameter. By attaching pipe fitting of various orifice diameters to a simple flow system, students discover what effects the differences in diameter have on the flow rate of the system. While the effects are readily seen by mere observation, students will learn to quantitatively measure the flow rate via the use of LEGO sensors to determine the time it takes to fill a container between two discrete points.

Complete Activity (pdf) | Pre Evaluation (pdf) | Post Evaluation (pdf)

**Jennifer S. Haghpanah**, Ph.D. (4th. year) Chemical and Biological Sciences

**Summary:** Students will work as engineers and learn to conduct controlled experiments by changing one experimental variable at a time and study its effect on the outcome of the experiment. Specifically, they will conduct experiments to determine the amount of force that is required to break different kinds of breads. First, the students will assemble a robot that can pull the bread apart. Second, they will design a program in NXT MindStorm that will cause the robot to pull apart the bread. Third, using Image 3 as a guide, students will setup their experiment for pulling the bread apart. Fourth, using a physics-based formula, they will calculate the amount of force it takes to pull apart the bread to a given distance. Fifth, they will change the amount of power delivered by the bread-pulling robot and use the same physics-based formula to calculate the force it takes to pull apart the bread to a given distance. Sixth, they will determine the force needed to pull apart the bread to different distances. Finally, students will determine the amount of force it takes to pull apart different types of bread.

Complete Activity (pdf) | Worksheet (pdf)

**Jennifer S. Haghpanah**, Ph.D. (4th. year) Chemical and Biological Sciences

**Summary:** Students will work as engineers and learn to conduct controlled experiments by changing one experimental variable at a time and study its effect on the outcome of the experiment. Specifically, they will conduct experiments to determine the angular velocity for a gear train with varying gear ratios and lengths. First, the students will assemble a robot with various size gears in a gear train. Second, they will design a program in NXT MindStorm that will cause the motor to rotate all the gears in the gear train. Third, students will use MindStorms Data Logging Program to setup their experiment with the light sensors. Fourth, they will run the program with the motor and the light sensor at the same time. Fifth, they will analyze the plot from MindStorms Data Logging Program and determine the angular velocity with a physics based formula. Sixth, they will manipulate the gear train with different gears and different lengths. Finally, students will analyze all these factors and figure out which manipulation has a higher angular velocity.

Teachengineering.org | Complete Activity (pdf)

**Paul Phamduy**, Ph.D (2nd. year) Mechanical Engineering

**Summary:** A gear is a simple machine that is very useful to increase the speed or torque of a wheel. In this activity, students learn about the trade-off between speed and torque when designing gear ratios. The activity setup includes a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® pulley system with two independent gear sets and motors that spin two pulleys. Each pulley has weights attached by string. In a teacher demonstration, the effect of adding increasing amounts of weight to the pulley systems with different gear ratios is observed as the system's ability to lift the weights is tested. Then student teams are challenged to design a gear set that will lift a given load as quickly as possible. They test and refine their designs to find the ideal gear ratio, one that provides enough torque to lift the weight while still achieving the fastest speed possible.

**Keeshan Williams**, Ph.D. (3rd. year), Chemical & Biological Engineering

**Summary:** Using the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT kit, students construct experiments to measure the time it takes a free falling body to travel a specified distance. Students use the touch sensor, rotational sensor, and the NXT brick to measure the time of flight for the falling object at different release heights. After the object is released from its holder and travels a specified distance, a touch sensor is triggered and time of object's descent from release to impact at touch sensor is recorded and displayed on the screen of the NXT. Students calculate the average velocity of the falling object from each point of release, and construct a graph of average velocity versus time. They also create a best fit line for the graph using spreadsheet software. Students use the slope of the best fit line to determine their experimental g value and compare this to the standard value of g.

**Andrew Cave**, MS (2nd. year) Computer Engineering

**Summary:** In this activity, students conduct an experiment to determine the relationship between the speed of a wooden toy subway car at the bottom of an incline and the height at which it is released. They observe how the photo gate-based speedometer instrument is used to "clock" the average speed of an object. Students tabulate the results and create a graph plotting the measured speed in centimeters per second against start height in centimeters. After the experiment, students design a brake to keep the speed of the cart at the bottom of the hill over a specified minimum speed and under a specified maximum speed.

**Jennifer S. Haghpanah**, Ph.D. (4th. year) Chemical and Biological Sciences

**Summary:** Students will work as engineers and learn to conduct controlled experiments by changing one experimental variable at a time and study its effect on the outcome of the experiment. Specifically, they will conduct experiments to determine the amount of weight need for an object to travel far. First, the students will assemble a robot that can launch objects. Second, they will design a program in NXT MindStorm that will cause the robot to launch objects. Third, using Image 3 as a guide, students will setup their experiment for launching objects. Fourth, they will launch objects of different weights and record their distance. Fifth, they will change the angle of the launcher and see how far the same objects travel. Sixth, they will manipulate the length of the arm and see how far the object travels. Finally, students will analyze all these factors and figure out which manipulation makes the object travel farther.

Teachengineering.org | Complete Activity (pdf) | Worksheet (pdf)