Jaime Chenevey, agriculture teacher at West Holmes High School, was looking for a way to teach a unit about hydraulics to her eleventh and twelfth grade students in a way that was cleaner and simpler than working on large-scale equipment, so she developed the ?Hydraulic Robots? unit. For the project, students work in groups and are required to build a robot utilizing concepts about hydraulic systems. They must create their robot using only 10 syringes of varying sizes and five feet of plastic tubing. At the conclusion of the project, their robot must be able to pick up a Styrofoam cup, move it one inch up and down and three inches from side to side.
"The robot project allows students to be creative, enhances learning, and applies concepts, while creating a working robot," Chenevey said. "My favorite part of this project is that you give them very little instructions, which drives them nuts and makes them think outside of the box."
After all groups have presented their working robots, they write a report that analyzes the concepts and theories used in creating their projects. This self-analysis supplements the discussions that happen during the building process, helping students truly understand how hydraulics work and how their robots correlate to hydraulic equipment in the real world.
"The students feel a great sense of accomplishment when their projects have been built from scratch and actually work in the end!" Chenevey said.