Instructor uses Legos in classroom

Instructor uses Legos in classroom

Monday, August 15, 2011

Contact

College Director of Communications
417.447.2655 publicinfo@otc.edu
Steve Koehler
Coordinator of Media Relations (417) 447-2666 koehlers@otc.edu

Tiffany Archer spent hours as a child building skyscrapers with Legos.

Today, Archer continues to use plastic building blocks in her classroom as an instructor in the Computer Information Systems department at Ozarks Technical Community College.

Only, the classroom version of Legos comes to life with software that make the finished products move and respond to their surroundings.

Archer, who teaches computer programming at OTC, has been using the Lego robot kits in a class for two years. The class is specifically designed to teach students how to program the miniature machines.

“Legos have a nice appeal to students, many of whom, like me, played with them as a child. While the students learn programming in other classes, this class teaches them to program differently by programming robots,” Archer said.

Archer said what the students learn in the classroom about programming robots is directly applicable to what’s taking place in manufacturing today.

“Manufacturing isn’t going to change. There is more and more automation taking over. It will not shift back to humans,” she said.

The robots used in the classroom can be made into dogs, spiders and a machine with a claw. Archer’s most recent robot is a dog named George.

George, with his orange eyes and long, gray Lego ears, can be run with a remote tethered to him or without the leash. He scoots across the floor until he hears Archer’s voice, stops and turns toward the sound. A second later, he is at her feet waiting for her voice to speak again.

The robots can also be programmed to follow a certain path or to stop when they come to the edge of a table to avoid falling off.

The robots are great recruiting tools at high school fairs.

“They really spark the younger students who have played with Legos as a child,” she said.

Steve Koehler is coordinator of media relations at Ozarks Technicall Community College. Contact him at koehlers@otc.edu.