Oxford Virtual Academy Offers Lego Mindstorms Course to Homeschool Students

The Oxford Virtual Academy (OVA) is offering a LEGO Mindstorms NXT class to homeschool students at Kettering University. Enrollment for current students is through December 31, and open enrollment for all students is January 5-16.

Last semester was the first time the LEGO NXT course was offered. Students learned about using sensors to program robots. No previous programming knowledge is necessary for the introductory course.

Next semester, students who took the introductory course will be able to move up to a more advanced level that will get deeper into sensors and basic programming, navigating the file systems of the robots and using sensors to move them.

Robots Built with Programmable “Intelligent Bricks”

EV3 robotAn early hands-on introduction to robotics seems important to prepare the young to cope with a world where advanced automation plays an ever more prominent role, and industrial robots disrupt traditional manufacturing. The LEGO Mindstorms system permits learning while playing and is often considered as a toy, but expert users can build very sophisticated systems and do leading edge research work. Recently, scientists mapped the connections between the 302 neurons of a worm’s brain, simulated them in software, and uploaded the software to a Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot that exhibits worm-like behavior.

Also read: A Lego Mindstorms Body Powered by a Worm’s Mind

LEGO Mindstorms NXT is a programmable robotics kit first released by LEGO in late July 2006. It replaced the first-generation LEGO Mindstorms kit, which was called the Robotics Invention System. The main component in the kit is a brick-shaped computer called the NXT Intelligent Brick, which can take input from up to four sensors and control up to three motors. A NXT Educational Version, from Lego Education, is made for school use.

The third generation Mindstorms platform, called EV3, is a further development of the NXT. The software that ships with the EV3 set can be used to program the NXT.

The Oxford Virtual Academy is an online school that offers a different style of education from that provided by most public school systems. Begun in 2007, online education from the Oxford school system has to date changed the lives of thousands of students in southeastern Michigan.

Images from CHEN WS and Shutterstock.

Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.