This lesson will start with a brief history of robotics and explain how robots are beneficial to science and society. The lesson then will explore how robots have been used in recent space exploration efforts. The engineering design of the two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, will be used as prime examples. Finally, the maneuverability of their robotic arms and the functionality of their tools will be discussed.
Students generally do not know the complexity that goes into building and programming a robotic arm. In actuality, creating such an arm comes from a design that involves mechanical, electrical, and computer science engineers. This activity allows students to control a robotic arm from both a machine's and a computer science engineer's perspective by letting them perform a simple task with a few entertaining instructions and constraints.