LERO102-2: Lego, and not-so-Lego, Robots

Course Syllabus

Instructor Information

About me: Alex Milewski

I am a Movement Artist, Engineer and Educator based in Boulder. I started my obsession with Engineering at age 8 when I got my first Lego mindstorms set for Christmas. I never looked back, and ended up graduating CU Boulder with a degree in Mechanical Engineering 15 years later (2013). I founded a tech startup in Australia in 2012, and ran that for 5 years out of school. I am also a professional dancer (primarily Breakdancing) and have taught and performed around the world. In 2009, I discovered that my passion for Engineering and Legos was eclipsed by my Love for sharing wonder and excitement with kids through teaching. My Robotics classes are a direct manifestation of my Love for Engineering and teaching, and i'm so grateful for the opportunity to share my passions with students!

Contact info[1]

Class location: 3371 Hickok Pl. Boulder, 80301. **Please either park in the spot #8 (second from the end on the left) or in a "Visitor" spot: we cannot park in any other spot numbers without sad neighors.

Child safety and rules for everyone to be aware of

House Safety[2]

No secrets[3]

Body autonomy[4]

Safe touch[5]

Course Information

Course Description

  • This class is designed to serve as a continuation into the magical world of LEGO (and not so LEGO) Robotics. We will be using LEGO Mindstorms & Technic robotic parts. We will use Lego EV3 microcontrollers to control our creations!


  • Ages 7+ and some Lego Technic and/or Mindstorms experience

  • Express interest in STEM

Course Materials

All class materials will be supplied, students are always welcome to bring a creation from home to show and tell!

Project based learning

The majority of this session is dedicated to individual student projects. While we will do some group work, it is imperative that every student get hands on experience with all aspects of a project: brainstorming, designing, building and coding, on their own. Students will need to follow the individual Project Specifications to complete each project.

Project 1: tractor pull challenge

  • Build a single-motor tractor that can pull a "sled" with as much weight on it as possible!

  • Tractor and sled will be on carpet

Project 2: circumnavigation

  • Students will work alone to design and build a robot that can drive around a given object and end back where it started with a minimumsuccess rate of 80%.

  • This is a 2-week project!

Project 3: security bot

  • Students will buiild a robot that detects entry and sets of a a warning "alarm", as well as firing a Lego cannon at the intrudor if they get to close

  • 2 week project

Project 4: self-directed challenge

  • Students will have 3 weeks to work on a project of their choice! This can be anything at all they want, but some ideas include:

    • Table climber: robot that can get on top of the table.

    • Walker: robot that can walk on 2 or 4 legs

    • Brick sorter

    • Marble dispenser

    • Drummer robot

    • Robot claw

    • Maze solver car

  • Students can work individually or in teams!

Student Learning Outcomes & Objectives

Student Learning Objectives[6]

Course Objectives[7]

Class expectations[8]

Engineering Design Process

Course Outline/Schedule

**Note: schedule is subject to change based on group interests/speed. The flow is vital.

Week 1: Traction

Class/lecture day[9] (Intro)

Lab day[10] (Finish tractors)

Week 2: Dead reconning!

Class/lecture day[11] Circumnavigation project intro

Lab day Project work

Week 3: Final reconning!

Project build[13]Continue work on Circumnavigation project

Lab day[14] Project work

Week 4: Sense of security...

Class/lecture day [15]Intro to security project

Lab day[16] Security project work

Week 5: Finish Security

Project build[17][18]Project work or add wheels

Lab day [19]build day

Week 6: Open projects!

Class/lecture day[20] Project intro and brainstorming!

Lab day: project build!

Week 007: build week!

Class/lecture day[21] Project updates

Lab day: project build!

Week 8: Finish self-directed projects

Class/lecture day[22] final test day (parents welcome to join for show-and-tell last 30m of class!)

Lab day[23] last lab of session

- May the Force be with you! -


Office Hours: Whenever

Telephone: 7205158455



Open Door Policy:

All inside doors will always be open during classes. My front door is always "open" as well, and all parents are encouraged to stop by (or stay) for class whenever possible!

Substances & guns:

There are no illegal substances of any sort in my home. Any legal & prescription substances are kept out of sight and not in "public" spaces. This is a gun-free home: there are no firearms or other dangerous weapons (beyond kitchen knives) here.


I will never ask students to keep secrets from eachother or parents.


All children have a right to physical autonomy and to feel comfortable. If they feel uncomfortable in their body, they are encouraged to honor that and I will always support them in that autnomy.


I will only initiate consensual, safe touch like high fives. If a student initiates a casual hug, I will reciprocate that...

I also ask students to limit rough-housing and maintain their body autonomy with eachother in class, and will support students if they seem uncomfortable with physical play from peers (and communicate with parents if this happens).

  • Further knowledge and iterative implementation of the Engineering Design Process

  • Intermediate understanding of how motors and gears work, including worm & rack gears

  • Ability to apply gear ratios: speed and torque tradeoffs

  • Understanding of and practical experience with:

    • Touch, Light, Ultrasonic & IR Sensors

    • Introductory programming concepts (if statements, loops, etc)

    • Electrical motors and basic dynamic mechanical systems

  • Understanding of bracing, structural integrity and building sturdy machines

  • Using sensors, motors, coding and a microcontroller, to allow a machine to respond to stimuli in its environment

  • Working over multipls days to solve a specific problem

  • Having fun

  • Sparking curiosity

  • Teamwork

  • Learning basic problem solving skills and the Engineering Design Process

  • Understanding what makes a robot a robot, vs just an electrical machine

  • Deeper understanding of building/prototyping machines with LEGO

  • Basic understanding of what programming is

  • Attend

  • Engage

  • Communicate

  • Work together

  • Ask constructive questions

  • Be respectful and kind to others


  • Welcome: Overview of the session!

  • Get re-acquainted with “the lab”

  • Free build

  • Review the Engineering Design Process

  • Review gear trains

  • Introduce the 1-motor tractor pull challenge

  • Start building tractors!

  • Finish tractor builds and wiring.

  • Test tractors!

  • Calculate tractor strength to weight ratios!

  • Work on circumnavigation project!

  • Free build

  • Present progress and discuss plan for the week

  • Work on cars!

  • Work on circumnavigation project!


Update on projects/progress for security bots

Can add wheels and/or swivel to security bot if it is ready to go!

  • Challenge introduction

  • Individual brainstorms

  • Present ideas to group

  • Delegate components

  • Start building

  • Security bot final build day

  • Self-directed project intro

  • Review Engineering Design Process

  • Brainstorming session for project ideas!

  • Decide on teams or solos

  • Start workoing on projects


Share project progress/updates!

  • Project updates: what needs to be done?

  • Test and finish projects!

  • Present final projects to parents

  • Final project tweaks/additions (based on class day)

  • What makes a robot a robot?

  • Disassemble