Adding Math and Science to your sTEm Project

welcome NYSMTP! The STEM based projects & activities below can be found on this website. These activities are ones that can be done in a classroom, and may actually be applicable without the lean towards manufacturing. However, feel free to brows through and see what can be done if you want to work it into an engineering or technology based setting.

Overview of HAB Project:

One of the most exciting projects, according to all of my former students, was the HAB, or High Altitude Balloon Project done in my Engineering Design & Development class. Looking back on it, it was one of the biggest challenges my students ever faced with the highest risk of failure as well, but with risk, comes reward. The view of the curvature of the earth on video was absolutely stunning!

Also in retrospect, this project required my students to apply more math and science concepts than any other as well.

  • Math: One former student developed an equation to determine accurately how much helium to put in the balloon. This equation is used widely in HAB projects worldwide.
  • Earth Science: Tracking teams had to analyze weather data and other factors to determine where it would land:
  • Physics: Students had to determine forces on all parts to determine failure points in the project.
  • Thermodynamics: Batteries do not work in low temps… how do you power it?
  • Fluid Dynamics: How does temperature affect the size of the balloon? Elevation? What makes it go higher?

HAB Explanation Video

Sample Data

Below is some sample data from our flight:

Ascent Rate5.52 m/sec18.1102 Ft/sec12.3 mph
Burst Altitude29,706 Meters97460 feet18.45 miles
Descent Rate6.15 m/sec20.177 ft/sec13.75 mph
Payload Mass1542.2 g3.39 lbs
Balloon Mass1000 g2.204 lbs
Neck Lift3308 g7.292 lbs
Launch Volume_____ m3105-115 cu ftFrom PM spreadsheet
Launch Circumference18.68ftRadius = 2.97 ft
Lat/Long Launch43.067  -775156PM HS
Launch Time9:18:30May 21 2014
Landing42°34.12’N  76° 58.57’W42.588860, -76.972154   Milo NY
Landing Time12:52:48

Graph Data

Image Gallery

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Introduction to RobotC and VEX Inputs & Outputs

When you think about it, in manufacturing, controlling things is necessary to perform very complex tasks to manufacture items to tolerances finer than a human hair. Think about all of the systems that have to be controlled in a single work cell in a factory… then multiply it by 10’s or 100’s of cells. Mind boggling! It’s all done with some form of logic controller. In industry they use PLC’s, in the classroom we use arduino and VEX components.

In this series of short videos, learn the basics of how to use RobotC to program a VEX micro-controller to control all of your VEX creations from robots to control systems. The videos in this series include:

  • Introduction to VEX Electrical Components– This video shows you what all of the components are, how they work, and how to interface them with the VEX Cortex & RobotC
  • Introduction to RobotC– This is the software side of your VEX creations… The code that makes the hardware work!
  • Uploading a Program to a VEX Cortex– Pretty easy, but without this step, nothing works!
  • Adding an Input Using a Limit Switch– It’s amazing what you cn do with a switch and a microcontroller when you really think about it!
  • Looping With Natural Language– Learn how to do things multiple times using Natural Language… the “easy” way.
  • Using While Structures in RobotC– OK… now we’re getting a little deep. Want to perform a complex task with your VEX hardware? Chances are you’ll need a While Structure to do it.
  • Variables– Believe it or not EVERY programming language uses variables, and there are many good reasons to. Here’s how to do it!
  • 7 Functions & Voids– What are functions and voids, and how can they make it easier to program your VEX hardware? Here’s the video for you…
  • Using IF Structures– to make a micro-controller complete complex tasks, IF statements can be the go-to to make it easier. In this video Jim shows you how.

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01 T&P Robot Axis & Movement

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Download Blank Field Template

Jointed arm robots are useful for many different tasks because of its range of motion and degrees of freedom. In this activity you will learn how to move a robotic arm in many different ways and write a program to make the robot write the word “CIM” with accuracy and repeatability. CIM stands for Computer Integrated Manufacturing.

Video Coming Soon…

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0.5 Presentation-Introduction to Robotics

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This is a presentation that can be used as the perfect introduction into the types of robots used in industry today and how it is applied with your classroom robot.

Video coming soon

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06 Presentation-Dobot Blockly Hardware Connections


This presentation is meant to be an introduction to all of the different devices that can be interfaced with the Dobot Magician in terms of hardware. Both Jim and I suggest using this in the classroom as a student resource, rather than a presentation that you go over slide by slide; Although, there may be some value in introducing some of the hardware that you may use in your class at this point.

Just give it to the kids as a resource, let them download it, and use it as they need it!

Video Coming Soon…

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00 Presentation: Dobot Blockly Programming


This presentation is meant to be an introduction to all of the different Blockly commands, and where to find them in the interface. Both Jim and I suggest using this in the classroom as a student resource, rather than a presentation that you go over slide by slide.

Just give it to the kids as a resource, let them download it, and use it as they need it!

Video Coming Soon…

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14 Blockly-Curriculum

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This curriculum was designed to teach high school and college level students the basics of
robotics, as used in industry, using the Dobot Magician, DobotStudio software, and the
blockly programming language.
Through these activities, you will also be able to make the robot interact with other devices
including, but not limited to:
● Arduino microcontrollers
● Color sensors
● Conveyor belts
● Other outputs like motors and LED’s
● VEX Cortex microcontroller
● Infrared sensors
● Other robots
● Other inputs like microswitches and
Introduction: Defining Artificial Intelligence
A lot is being reported about artificial intelligence and robotics in industry, and it is probably
one of the most controversial issues surrounding robots… If you do not understand it. The
way that we wish to address it in this document depends on how it is defined. For our use
here Jim and I will define it as such:
Artificial Intelligence(AI): Using computers, microcontrollers, and other
electronic devices to replicate intelligent behavior to automate tasks and make
manufacturing more efficient.
We would like to look at AI from a practical standpoint. How AI helps us in industrial robotics
and automation is what intrigues us the most and what we are most passionate about. In that
vein, the next question to answer then is: “How does this curriculum embody artificial
With the above definition of AI, isn’t a lot of automation & robotics considered artificial intelligence? Take these instances of what students will be able to do with a dobot and this
● Make a motor run forward or backwards depending on what time it is.
● Make a light bulb light up when you want it to. Better yet, make different color lights
light dependent upon what you want.
● Determine what color an object is and then decide where to put it.
● Change the speed of a motor dependent upon where an object is.
● Mathematically calculate where to put the next box on a pallet, or to stack objects
● Make a robot talk to another robot and decide when to perform certain actions.
● Make a robot talk to another device to perform a myriad of automation and
manufacturing tasks.
● Make a robot 3D print a necessary part for you, or laser engrave a barcode on each
passing part of an assembly line. All of these are possible with only a Dobot Magician, A microcontroller, this curriculum, a little
determination, and a lot of curiosity.
Introduction: Defining Industry 4.0
Here’s another term that is being widely used in Industry, and being touted as the next
greatest thing in manufacturing. What does it mean? Again, we have to define it for ourselves
so that we can move forward, and possible embrace it. From our limited research and
knowledge of the topic we would like to define it this way:
Industry 4.0: The 4th industrial revolution where manufacturing facilities employ
computers, machines, and technology, that have inputs and outputs that allow them to
wirelessly connect to ever larger manufacturing systems.
No more is a drill press just a drill press. It may be a CNC machine that has a vision system
that knows where a hole has to go as well as what size it is. Also this machine can be
programmed on the fly to change rapidly if a different order comes in from a different vendor.
It’ll even tell the customer when the part will be done, and in some instances, some factories
will even let customers watch their parts being produced via webcam. The list of tasks above
in the definition of AI are all within reach of high school and college students alike, and aren’t
these tasks all a part of Industry 4.0?
With a Dobot Magician, this curriculum, and a bunch of spare parts, computers, and some
ingenuity, students will definitely be headed in the right direction towards being a part of the
future of Industry; no matter what it’s called when they graduate.

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11 Blockly-Workcell Design

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A robotic workcell is defined as the complete environment around a robot. This environment may include tools, machines and/or other robots.

In this activity you will use a robot and a microcontroller system to recreate a workcell. Your workcell will incorporate all of the devices that you have learned about in previous activities including:
● Inputs & outputs
● Sensors
● Conveyor belt
● Machines
● Robots
You and your team will design, organize, create, program and test a full work cell.

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10 Blockly-Handshaking Dobot to VEX


Often robotic arms need to communicate with other devices or controllers in a work cell, or factory. This is called HANDSHAKING and can be done between different machines, devices and robots. It is a very simple form of communication and is done with simple ones and zeros; or “ons” and “offs”.

In this activity you will use all of the knowledge learned in previous activities to make a Dobot Magician Robot communicate with a VEX cortex.

Video Coming Soon…

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