Every teacher struggles with coming up with lesson plans that emulate real world scenarios for their students. At the STEM day at UC Davis on May 6th, we witnessed some fascinating students use the Mobot modular robot to solve difficult problems modeled after real world situations. The students were tasked to direct their Mobot in such a way that it navigated around obstacles through a course to capture an object.
Not only did the mission challenge their problem solving and team-building skills, but it also tested the students’ ability to code in C++ and geometry skills. Each student had to first evaluate the problem and program the Mobot to move around barriers towards a ping pong ball at the end of a table. Utilizing each individual member’s strengths, the team had to work together to find the precise path the Mobot needed to take to achieve the objective, and tweak the code as necessary until the desired result was achieved.
While the end result may have seemed simplistic in nature, the students can now build upon these fundamentals to take on real world tasks. Obviously, the goal of the competition was not necessarily capture a ball, but to perhaps one day apply these skills in real world situations such as programming a robot to navigate rough terrain in search of potential survivors in a disaster area. These skills coupled with the ability to work together with other engineers will pay dividends much later as they pursue their careers.