LERO101-2: 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+

  • 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 Challenge

The last 4 weeks of this session are dedicated to a “search and rescue” robotics project. There has been a radioactive waste leak at a trash incinerator, and the surrounding area has been contaminated. Your mission is to build a robot to seek out the survivors who are holed up in rescue pods and bring those pods outside of the contaminated zone. Students will need to follow the Project Specifications [6]to resuce as many pods as possible within the time limit.

Student Learning Outcomes & Objectives

Student Learning Objectives[7]

Course Objectives[8]

Class expectations[9]

Engineering Design Process

Course Outline/Schedule

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

Week 1: Structures and statics (building a bridge and calculating strength ratio)

Day 1[10] (parents encouraged to join for the beginning of class)

Day 2[11] (Finish bridges)

Week 2: Circular motion and gears (building a "fast" Lego car)

Day 1 [12](gear trains)

Day 2[13] (finish cars)

Week 3: It’s electric… (introducing microcontrollers and motor control)

Day 1[14] motor control

Day 2[15] EV3 and coding

Week 4: Senses (introduction to basic sensors and coding)

Day 1 [16]touch sensors

Day 2[17] IR (& Ultrasonic)

Week 5: Search and rescue project (starting larger group project)

Day 1[18] the challenge intro

Day 2 [19]build day

Week 6: Retrieval project (finish hardware build)

Day 1[20] build day

Day 2[21] build day

Week 007: Retrieval project

Day 1[22] build day

Day 2[23] test day

Week 8: Finish retrieval project

Day 1[24] final test day

Day 2[25] last class 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).

  • Contaminated zone will be elevated (top of a table)

  • Buffer zone is 3' radius around the table (no human can enter the buffer zone)

  • There will be 10 rescue pods, starting on the table

  • Rescue pods must be completely outside of buffer zone to be considered "saved"

  • TIme limit for rescue mission is 10 minutes

  • Knowledge and implementation of the Engineering Design Process

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

  • Understanding gear ratios: speed and torque tradeoffs

  • Basic understanding of and practical experience with:

  • Touch, Light, Ultrasonic & IR Sensors

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

  • Using Technic parts to build a simple “powered” car using rubber bands, weights, etc.

  • Understanding how an electrical motor works

  • Basic understanding of 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 in a group 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!!!

  • Get acquainted with “the lab”

  • Free build

  • Introduction to the Engineering Design Process

  • Introduction to trusses and bridges

  • Strength to weight ratios

  • Lego structural integrity “best practices”

  • Start designing bridge!


Free build

Lego structural integrity “best practices” review

Finish bridges

Bridge “stress test”!

Calculate strength to weight ratios

  • Free Build

  • Review strength to weight ratios

  • What is a gear?

  • Introduction to gear ratios

  • Introduce the car challenge

  • Start designing gear trains for cars

  • Free build

  • Review gear ratios

  • Review structural integrity “best practices”

  • Finish the cars!

  • Speed measurements!

  • Free build

  • Review gears

  • How electric motors work

  • Introduce different motor control VIA Discovery Bot controller

  • Build a simple car that can turn: 2-3 cars

  • Free build

  • Review motors

  • Introduce EV3 microcontrollers

  • Introduction to Scratch coding environment

  • Motors in Scratch

  • Motion

  • Rotation feedback

  • Program car to drive in a square

  • Free build

  • Review EV3

  • What is a sensor?

  • Introduction to coding: “if” statements

  • Play the //code “on the brink” game

  • Build simple robot with a touch sensor

  • Use Scratch to program touch response


Free build

Review coding: “if” statements

Play “on the brink” game again

Intro to color + IR sensors in Scratch

Add to car program so it can respond to touch and another stimulus

  • Challenge introduction

  • Individual brainstorms

  • Present ideas to group

  • Delegate components

  • Start building

  • Review challenge

  • Component updates

  • Continue building

  • Present progress

  • Review challenge

  • Component updates

  • Continue building

  • Present progress


Review challenge

Component updates

Continue building

Present progress

  • Coding sensors in Scratch

  • Continue building

  • Review challenge

  • Code updates

  • Finish building/coding

  • Test progress

  • Project updates: what needs to be done?

  • Test and refine

  • Review structures, motors, sensors, coding

  • What makes a robot a robot?

  • Present challenge and final solution