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Middle school program brings Legos to life

This past fall semester at Halifax County Middle School, students enrolled in Regan Priest’s Lego robotics classes were introduced to the world of engineering, programming in design.

The courses are designed to provide the students with a basic understanding of technology, problem solving and programming while using Lego robotics to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts learned. 

During the first half of the semester, the students were divided into teams and began building a basic robot design. They learned about different sensors (light, sound, touch, ultrasonic) and their functions as they attached and programmed them to their robots. 

Each team learned to build, modify and program the robot to meet various ever more complex challenges and perform investigations using the capabilities of robot and sensors.

The second half of the semester consisted of the students choosing different projects to engineer and program. The projects ranged from robotic cars to rattlesnakes to humanoid robots. 

While some students were able to create multiple projects, others were only able to produce one because of the complexity of the robot.  There was also a Robo Sumo Tournament designed after Sumo Wrestling in Japan.  Each team of students designed their own fighting robot with remote controls and brought them to the fighting ring. The object was to design a robot to either push the other robot out of the ring or flip it over.

Some students even participated in the Lego Automation Station.  This project came to life through the mini-grant given by Halifax County Public Schools Education Foundation. 

Priest built a prototype remote controlled Lego R2D2 from the Star Wars films using a Lego set that he had purchased from the Lego Company. He altered the building instructions and redesigned it using multiple XL motors, infrared receivers, sound chips and LED lights. 

The finished product was a fully automated, remote controlled R2D2 droid.  The head could rotate and light up, it could be “driven” around, and it could play different sounds straight from the motion picture with a push of a button.  

Priest used the mini-grant money to purchase the parts necessary for the students to create an R2 droid based on this prototype.  The students’ droid also was altered to be in blue and orange colors of the middle school.  

With the project completed, Halifax County Middle School had its first robotic mascot.