CLASSROOM & GROUP TEACHING
Classroom Kits are Available for Using Intro to Robotics for Classrooms and Group Teaching
The Intro to Robotics course was designed to be used by people with no previous experience in electronics, programming, or robotics. Lessons start at the very beginning building foundational skills that increase in complexity over time.
Level A teaches students to build circuits with common electrical components, use a Raspberry Pi, and write code in Python to control the circuits they build with the code they write line-by-line. The program then moves on in Levels B and C to more complex electrical components and advanced programming while they learn complementary skills such as reading electrical schematics, troubleshooting, and building an Apache web server. In the final level of the program, students will take all the electronics and programming skills they have learned to build a fully programmable mobile robot from scratch.
Click here to see sample lessons and a detailed scope and sequence for each level of the program.
Our goal is for students to build strong base of electronics and programming skills that will enable them to go on in the future and tackle novel projects learning new niche skills along the way.
Level A: Building Circuits and Beginning Programming
- Learn how electricity and electrical equipment work
- Learn to properly use common electrical components that make up circuits including breadboards, batteries, LEDs, resistors, jumper wires, and switches
- Build both series and parallel circuits and understand how to use Ohm's Law when designing circuits
- Practice systematic troubleshooting techniques including half-splitting
- Learn to read schematic drawings
- Learn to use a Raspberry Pi (a mini computer) including connecting it to peripherals (keyboard, mouse, etc.) as well as downloading files and software updates
- Learn to use several included software packages including Raspbian OS, Nano, and Thonny
- Learn to to create basic Python programs including comments, merging strings, user input, mathematical functions, lists, if/else statements, and loops to control electrical circuits and create games
- Learn to identify and correct errors in Python computer programs
- Gain the skills to independently tackle advanced projects found online
- Learn troubleshooting skills for both electrical circuits and computer programs
Level B: Using Sensors and Intermediate-Level Programming
- Work administratively with files, folders, and directories
- Continue to expand coding knowledge to include functions, advanced list commands, logical operators, while true loops, advanced string techniques, try/except/finally, and multithreaded operations
- Understand pulse width modulation
- Learn to work with new types of switches, a matrix-style keypad, potentiometers, phototransistors, infrared sensors, RFID readers, temperature sensors, an I2C display, and ultrasonic range sensors
- Learn to use Github and adjust for various versions of Python
- Work with an analog-to-digital converter integrated circuit
Level C: Working with Audio-Visual and Advanced-Level Programming
- Expand project flexibility with networking and remote access
- Write Bash scripts and using Bash programming
- Use microphones, speakers, audio amplifiers, and audio software
- Work with servo motors to add movement to project
- Multiple methods for gathering data from internet feeds and databases including API data access as well as how to use data in projects
- Work with accelerometers and gyros to allow for multi-axis measurements in projects
- Use relays to control high-powered devices
- Create your own Graphical User Interface (GUI) using the popular module Tkinter to create a user-friendly interface for programs and display data
- Build a web server using popular server softwares like Bottle and Apache to add web page control to projects
- Use a camera to gather data and see real-time events
Level D: Building a Mobile Robot
- Learn to protect and recover operating files and project data
- Use a digital multimeter (included in kit)
- Construct the robot chassis including wheels, motor mounts, and motors
- Control the robot remotely via VNC
- Add and configure various sensors, an audio amplifier, and speaker on the robot
- Use a camera to collect information and see the world from the robot's point of view
- Set up the mobile power system including gaining understanding of benefits and drawbacks of various battery power options
- Learn to drive and troubleshoot motors through code including coordinating multiple motors
- Set up keyboard control of robot while accounting for focus, keypress, and repeat rate issues
- Build a webpage and use CGI scripts to control the robot remotely
- Use a web page to view video generated by the robot and trigger the robot to play audio files
- Gain the skills to systematically plan large projects including identifying needed functionality, part compatibility, and keep appropriate documentation
- Continue to improve troubleshooting skills for both electrical circuits and computer programs
- Continue to gain the skills to independently tackle advanced projects found online
We typically see schools using Levels A, B, C, and D for a full credit Robotics course over a full school year. Alternatively, Levels A and B can be used together for a half credit Electronics and Coding course over a semester. For planning purposes, please see below for classroom time required to complete each level.
We generally recommend the Intro to Circuit Building course or Intro to Robotics Level A for middle school students. Mature and highly motivated middle school students may also be able to complete Intro to Robotics Level B.
Please note, the concepts covered in Intro to Robotics Levels B, C, and D are significantly more complex than Level A. We encourage teachers to carefully review the sample lessons and detailed scope and sequence for each level prior to making any purchasing decisions. A sample for Intro to Circuit Building can be found here.
If you decide your middle school student group is ready for both Levels A and B, we would encourage you to plan a full school year to complete both levels.
The Intro to Robotics course was originally developed for high school students so between the reading comprehension level and the attention to detail needed when working with electronics and code, we do not typically recommend the program for students younger than middle school.
However, in the event you are working with particularly mature upper elementary students and have a low student-to-teacher ratio, the Intro to Circuit Building course or Intro to Robotics Level A may be options. Click here to view sample lesson materials and a detailed scope and sequence for Level A. Click here to view a sample lesson and scope and sequence for Intro to Circuit Building.
Intro to Circuit Building consists of the first eight lessons of Intro to Robotics Level A. It is designed as a short, basic course that can be used to teach simple electronics skills to a wide variety of age groups. Click here to download a sample of Intro to Circuit Building.
Advantages: Intro to Circuit Building teaches students how to build electrical circuits using common electronic components including breadboards, jumper wires, resistors, LEDs (one color and RGB), and pushbutton switches. It also covers systematic troubleshooting techniques and reading simple electrical schematics. The course typically requires 6-10 hours of classroom time depending on the age and maturity of the students. The course can generally be used with students ranging from 5th grade through adults.
Disadvantages: The content of Intro to Circuit Building is limited. The course does not cover writing code or using a Raspberry Pi.
Here are some example courses we've heard being offered by high schools using our lessons and kits:
- Electronics and Coding, 0.5 credits, using Intro to Robotics Levels A+B
- Electronics and Coding, 1.0 credit, using Intro to Robotics Levels A+B+C with a novel final project designed by students
- Robotics, 1.0 credit, using Intro to Robotics Levels A+B+C+D
For High School Students and Adults:
- Level A: 18-25 hours of classroom time
- Level B: 35-45 hours of classroom time
- Level C: 40-50 hours of classroom time
- Level D: 25-40 hours of classroom time
Generally speaking if your high school STEM class is meeting 4-5 hours a week, Levels A and B can be completed during the first semester and Levels C and D during the second semester.
Intro to Circuit Building generally requires 6-10 hours of classroom time depending on the age and maturity of the students.
For Intro to Robotics courses, we recommend adding at least 50% additional classroom time to the estimates above when working with middle school or upper elementary students.
There are three line items that will need to appear on the purchase order:
- Instructor Set: Includes online classroom login for the instructor and one set of component kits
- Student Licenses: Consumable license, includes online classroom access, purchase one for each student (required even if student won't be directly using the online classroom)
- Classroom Component Kits: We recommend one set of component kits for every 1-4 students (see below)
Unused student licenses can be used the following semester or year, but your organization will need to contact us to reset the use expiration date for any unused student licenses. Additional student licenses can be purchased separately at anytime.
For example: Let's say your school purchased 60 student licenses initially and 50 students take the course during the 2021-2022 school year. The school would have 10 valid/unused licenses left over to use the following school year. So if 80 students take the course in the 2022-2023 school year, the school could use those 10 leftover licenses and would only need to purchase 70 new student licenses to stay in compliance for the new school year.
Please let us know if you have questions about licensing. We are happy to help you calculate how many licenses you need each semester or school year.
Generally speaking, we recommend purchasing an equipment kit for every 2-3 students. This ratio strikes a nice balance between hands-on time for the students and school equipment budgets.
If your school is placing a high priority on hands-on experience for students, we recommend purchasing an equipment kit for every 1-2 students.
If your school has budgetary concerns, we have had some schools use one equipment kit for every 4 students. While it results in less hands-on time for each student, we've also received feedback that it is a workable ratio.
Be sure to consider whether your school has an adequate supply of monitors, keyboards, mice, etc. prior to deciding how many equipment kits to purchase (see below).
The Raspberry Pi used in the Intro to Robotics course (and included in the equipment kits) is essentially a very small, stand-alone computer. To use the Raspberry Pi and complete the levels of the course, please see the lists below for additional equipment needed. The equipment listed is specific to each set of equipment you plan to use with your class (i.e. every set of equipment will require a separate monitor, keyboard, etc.) Please note, all levels of the Intro to Robotics program build on previous levels. So each subsequent level requires all skills and equipment used in previous levels.
Levels A and B:
- Internet access and an Electronic Device to Use to Access the Online Classroom (course lessons, including videos, are provided via the online classroom so high speed internet access is needed; we do not recommend attempting to use the online classroom with a phone due to the small screen size)
- Computer Monitor with HDMI input port (a television can also be used provided it has HDMI inputs, please note, a laptop computer or Chromebook will not work for this purpose as only very high-end laptops have an HDMI input port)
- HDMI cable (likely attached to your computer monitor)
- AA Batteries x2 (these are used in Lessons A-1 to A-9 to power circuits prior to learning to use the Raspberry Pi)
- Keyboard and Mouse (please use a wired keyboard and mouse if possible. Wireless models do not work reliably with the Raspberry Pi. Visit the Level A Resource List for a list of inexpensive keyboard and mouse options)
- A Desktop Computer, Laptop, or Chromebook (this can be the same device the student is using to access the online classroom; in Level C this is used in networking lessons)
- Anti-Static Mat (highly recommended to prevent damage to more sensitive equipment such as the Raspberry Pi camera; click here to find one at a bargain price; this is particularly needed in Level C)
- AA Batteries x6 (these are used to power the robot in Level D; we recommend rechargeable batteries, click here to learn more)
- 9v Battery
- USB Drive (minimum 4 gb)
- Electrical Tape (used in Level D to build a track on the floor for the robot to follow; use black electrical tape if you have light colored flooring, use white electrical tape if you have dark colored flooring)
- USB to SD Card Adapter (optional; Lesson D-1 activity shows students how to back up their SD card to their computer, click here to see links to adapters)
Most schools we work with use their computer lab to teach the Intro to Robotics course. As long as the monitors in the lab have an HDMI input, they should work for this purpose. VGA/HDMI adapters are available commercially but tend to be less reliable.
If your school or group does not have a computer lab available, we generally recommend checking thrift stores and pawn shops for inexpensive monitors, keyboards, and mice.
For Levels A and B, we do sometimes see schools sharing equipment kits between multiple sections of a course. If your classes will need to share equipment, you will need to ensure that all circuits are disassembled and properly stored at the end of each class period. Please note, since some projects in the course (particularly in Level B) carry over from one lesson to the next, additional class time will be needed to reassemble (and troubleshoot) a previous circuit prior to proceeding with the new lesson.
For Levels A and B, please be aware that some of the smaller components (resistors, LEDs, etc.) do tend to wear out with repeated use and may need to be replaced over time. However, those components are also the very inexpensive ones and we can help you with bulk replacement options.
For Level C, we do not typically recommend sharing equipment between sections. The circuits built in Level C are quite complex and carry over from one lesson to the next in many cases. Rebuilding (and troubleshooting) these more complex circuits at the beginning of each new lesson would be very time consuming.
The classroom teacher and each student will require their own login to access the online classroom. These logins will be set up and provided to your organization at the time your organization's purchase order is processed and the equipment kits shipped.
Each student will use their own individual login to access the Intro to Robotics' online classroom.
We do not offer access to the online classrooms separately from the kits. We are 100% committed to troubleshooting any bumps you or your students may face on the road to learning. Unfortunately component connections can be configured differently or may not be compatible depending on the specific component or manufacturer, even though they may look almost identical. That means you'd likely to run into incompatibility issues and makes it really difficult (and potentially impossible) for us to troubleshoot effectively. Our goal is for our classroom sets to be open-and-go and low-stress for teachers. Ensuring students are working with a standardized kit of parts helps make that happen.
Generally speaking, equipment kit are reusable the next semester or following year for a new group of students with a few caveats:
- Small parts such as resistors and LEDs do tend to wear out and break with repeated use, we do recommend planning to replace these items regularly (please note, these are the inexpensive parts of the kit and we can help you with bulk replacements)
- How well the equipment will last from one class to the next is dependent on how gentle the students are with it. Equipment should be treated carefully and stored appropriately. Replacement parts for all kits can be purchased individually on our website.
- The primary components on the robot chassis are not meant to be disassembled and therefore we would recommend planning to replace them for each new group of students (this includes the chassis plates, breadboard, hardware, wheels, and motors).
Please note, individual components and equipment sets can be purchased individually as needed as enrollment numbers increase or as equipment is damaged by students.
While equipment kits are reusable, student licenses are consumable and must be purchased for each new group of students. Please see the student license information a little further up this page.
We are happy to help you work through this course with your students! Contact us via email and we will help you get back on the right track. While we also provide support via phone, we strongly recommend using email as it's easier to send pictures or copy of your code back and forth--this can help us troubleshoot far more efficiently. If you do need us to call you, please let us know days, times, and time zone that work well for you. We realize you are a busy person and we want to catch you at the right time!
Also, please head on over to Facebook and join the 42 Electronics User Group. It's a great place for current or perspective users to ask questions, get project ideas, and connect with others using the Intro to Robotics program.
Yes! The Raspberry Pi operating system tends to change fairly regularly. Sometimes the changes are minor, such as moving a menu item, and sometimes the changes are major, such as process changes. As we learn of changes to the Raspberry Pi OS, modules, repository libraries or any other resources used in the course, we will update the online classroom ASAP. When accessing the materials through the online classroom, you will always have access to the most up-to-date version of the lesson materials.
No, we are unable to offer discounts or free shipping on classroom products. Actual freight charges will be added to the final invoice when ordering via purchase order.
Please note, while student licenses are consumable, if not consumed, they can be used the following semester or year. Your organization will need to contact us to reset the expiration use date for all unused student licenses.
Equipment kits can be returned in resellable condition (unused and in their original packaging) within 30 days of purchase. Please contact us within 30 days of receipt for information on how to return equipment kits. Please note, the purchaser is responsible for the cost of return shipping.
We are happy to put together a customized quote for your district, school, or group. Please contact us and include the following info so we can expedite your request:
- Which levels of the course you are interested in purchasing? (Level A+B vs. Levels A+B+C+D, etc.)
- How many students total you anticipate enrolling in the course?
- The number of students you anticipate sharing each equipment kit (we recommend 2-3 students per kit)
Please note, estimates are fine. We realize student enrollment numbers can fluctuate greatly and we can adjust the quote later, prior to purchase, if needed. Also we can assemble multiple quotes for different scenarios if that is helpful for your school's decision making process.
We generally try to respond to quote requests within 1-2 business days, but during our busy season (July and August) it may take a bit longer for quotes and PO processing. Please plan accordingly.
While you are welcome to order your classroom set online, we do strongly recommend utilizing our custom quote option so we can ensure you get the correct number of student licenses and equipment kits (we can often save schools money) and your student's logins for the online classroom can be set up at that time as well.
Most schools order our program via the following steps:
- Request a custom quote by contacting us (see above); we will provide a quote and W-9 form for your purchasing department
- Submit a purchase order to us; we recommend including the classroom teacher's email address on the PO so we can set up a download account for the teacher at the time the order is created. This will allow the teacher to access the lesson files without delay
- We will generally process your purchase order and ship your equipment kits within 2-3 business days; please note there can be short delays in processing for orders containing 100+ equipment sets or during our busiest season (July and August)
- Equipment kits are shipped from North Carolina via UPS Ground and generally take 2-8 business days to arrive; UPS will require a school staff member to sign for any package containing >$500 in equipment