Robot Basketball

This lesson demonstrates the difference between precision and accuracy. Students design a device that can shoot a basketball free-throw shot accurately every time.

  • Explore precision and accuracy.
  • Design & build a device that can throw a free-throw shot accurately.
  • Implement the engineering design process to solve the design challenge.

Age Levels: 10-18

Build Materials (For each team)

Required Materials (Trading/Table of Possibilities)

  • Pieces of corrugated cardboard (different sizes cut out of boxes)
  • Card stock and/or file folders
  • Cups and Plates (foam, plastic and paper all different sizes)
  • Plastic spoons
  • Rulers
  • String
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Craft Sticks
  • Straws
  • Binder Clips (all sizes)
  • Paper Clips (all sizes)
  • Rubber Bands
  • Craft Wire or pipe cleaners
  • Wood skewers
  • Clay
  • Paper and/or Construction paper
  • Optional: Basketball
source:horillaz/bigstock.com

Testing Materials

  • Chair, desk or small table (surface is 2 feet above the floor)
  • Trash can (small)
  • Plastic cups (different sizes)
  • Masking tape
  • Ping Pong Balls (3 or more, the ones painted like a basketball are fun or use a sharpie to add the lines yourself)

Materials

  • Chair, desk or small table (surface is 2 feet above the floor)
  • Trash can (small)
  • Plastic cups (different sizes)
  • Masking tape
  • Ping Pong Balls (3 or more, the ones painted like a basketball are fun or use a sharpie to add the lines yourself)

Process

Set up the Testing Zone with a “net” – small trash can or a plastic cup (depending on how challenging you would like it to be)

  • Tape the “net” on a chair, desk or small table (2 feet above the floor)
  • Place a piece of masking tape on the floor 6 feet away from the net – this is the starting line
  • Place 3 ping-pong balls in a cup at the starting line
  • Have each team use their robot design to make 3 free throw shots from the starting line
  • Teams document how many of their shots go into the net and then calculate their percentage of accuracy (see below). They also note the precision of each shot (how close they land to each other)

Optional Testing Zone Set-up 

  • Tape a cup to the wall (2 feet above a desk )
  • Place a desk 6 feet away – this is the starting line
  • Place 3 ping-pong balls in a cup at the starting line
  • Have each team use their robot design to make 3 free throw shots from the starting line
  • Teams document how many of their shots go into the net and then calculate their percentage of accuracy (see below). They also note the precision of each shot (how close they land to each other)

Calculating Accuracy

  • Accuracy is how close a measured value is to the actual (true) value.
  • Precision is how close the measured values are to each other.

Each team calculates their percentage of accuracy by taking how many of their shots went into the net divided by 3 shots multiplied by 100.

2 in basket / 3 shots x 100 = 67% (rounded)

Design Challenge

You are part of a team of engineers challenged to design and build a “robot” basketball player. The “robot” must be able to accurately shoot three free-throw shots into a net that is 2 feet above the floor and 6 feet from the “robot.”

Criteria 

  • Net must be 2 feet above the floor (or desk) and 6 feet from the “robot.”

Constraints

  • Only get 3 free-throw shots for the tryout
  • Use only the materials provided
  • Teams may trade unlimited materials
  1. Break class into teams of 2-3.
  2. Hand out the Robot Basketball worksheet, as well as some sheets of paper for sketching designs. 
  3. Discuss the topics in the Background Concepts Section.
    • If you have a basketball, hold it up and ask…how many of you have ever played basketball? What types of shots do players have to make? [The official types of shots involved in basketball are the mid-range shot, the layup, the three-pointer, the dunk, the alley-oop, the half-court shot, and the free-throw shot.]
    • Ask a student to demonstrate the free-throw shot by throwing a crumpled-up paper into a trash can 6 feet away. 
      • Point out motion from the arm specifically from the elbow to the hands. 
      • Ask (or tell if they don’t already know about simple machines): What simple machine does this part of the arm look like to you?
        • A lever is a rigid bar that rotates around a fixed point called a fulcrum, which lifts or moves loads. 
        • In an arm, the elbow is the fulcrum and the forearm is the stiff bar.
  4. Review the Engineering Design Process, Design Challenge, Criteria, Constraints and Materials. 
  5. Instruct students to start brainstorming and sketching their designs.
  6. Provide each team with their materials.
  7. Explain that students must develop 
  8. Announce the amount of time they have to design and build (1 hour recommended). 
  9. Use a timer or an on-line stopwatch (count down feature) to ensure you keep on time. (www.online-stopwatch.com/full-screen-stopwatch). Give students regular “time checks” so they stay on task. If they are struggling, ask questions that will lead them to a solution quicker. 
  10. Students meet and develop a plan for their robot. They agree on materials they will need, write/draw their plan, and present their plan to the class. Teams may trade unlimited materials with other teams to develop their ideal parts list.
  11. Teams build their designs. Make special note of how students’ “robots” must be ACCURATE (successful in getting their “basketball” into the “net” 3 times in a row). See the Student Resource sheet or Background Concepts section for information on the difference between accuracy and precision. Their robot must be 100% accurate. Students can either test at their own station where they set up a mock testing zone of their own or they can use the class “testing zone” as they build.
  12. Test the robot designs using the testing zone outlined under the “Testing Materials and Process” section.
  13. Teams should document how many of their shots go into the net and then calculate their percentage of accuracy (see below). They also note the precision of each shot (how close they land to each other)
    Each team calculates their percentage of accuracy by taking how many of their shots went into the net divided by 3 shots multiplied by 100.
    2 in basket / 3 shots x 100 = 67% (rounded)
  14. As a class, discuss the student reflection questions.
  15. For more content on the topic, see the “Digging Deeper” section.

Student Reflection (engineering notebook)

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go well?
  3. Were there any trades-offs (an exchange that occurs as a compromise or concession) you had to make with your design?  If so, explain.
  4. What is your favorite element of your “Robot”?
  5. If you had time to redesign again, what changes would you make? 

Time Modification

The lesson can be done in as little as 1 class period for older students. However, to help students from feeling rushed and to ensure student success (especially for younger students), split the lesson into two periods giving students more time to brainstorm, test ideas and finalize their design. Conduct the testing and debrief in the next class period.

Divide into teams
Review the challenge and criteria constraints
Brainstorm possible solutions (sketch while you brainstorm!)
Choose best solution and build a prototype
Test then redesign until solution is optimized
Reflect as a team and debrief as a class

Accuracy and Precision  

Accuracy is how close a measured value is to the actual (true) value.  Precision is how close the measured values are to each other. 

Examples of Precision and Accuracy:

Low Accuracy Low Precision
High Accuracy High Precision

So, if you are playing soccer and you always hit the left goal post instead of scoring, then you are not accurate, but you are precise! SOURCE: (www.mathsisfun.com/accuracy-precision.html)

Internet Connections

Accuracy and Precision

Recommended Reading

Robot (DK Eyewitness Books) (ISBN: 978-0756602543)
Levers (Simple Machines) (ISBN: 978-1403485632)
Real World Math: Basketball (9781602792456) 

Writing Activity 

Students could write short stories about their team’s free-throw player and/or the World Robotic Basketball League (WRBL), personifying the “robot(s).”  Students could create an ad that will promote the WRBL to draw more people to the games. Students could write an explanatory essay detailing the steps their robot takes to make an accurate free-throw shot.

Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks

Note: Lesson plans in this series are aligned to one or more of the following sets of standards:  

National Science Education Standards Grades 5-8 (ages 10 – 14)

CONTENT STANDARD B: Physical Science 

As a result of their activities, all students should develop an understanding of 

  • Motions and forces  
  • Transfer of energy  

CONTENT STANDARD E: Science and Technology 

As a result of activities, all students should develop 

  •  Abilities of technological design  
  •  Understandings about science and technology

National Science Education Standards Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18)

CONTENT STANDARD B: Physical Science  

As a result of their activities, all students should develop understanding of 

  • Motions and forces  
  • Interactions of energy and matter  

CONTENT STANDARD E: Science and Technology 

As a result of activities, all students should develop 

  • Abilities of technological design  
  • Understandings about science and technology  

Next Generation Science Standards – Grades 3-5 (Ages 8-11)

Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

  • 3-PS2-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object. 

Energy

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

  • 4-PS3-1. Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.

Next Generation Science Standards Grades 3-5 (Ages 8-11)

Engineering Design 

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

  • 3-5-ETS1-1.Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2.Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3.Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Next Generation Science Standards Grades 6-8 (Ages 11-14)

Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

  • MS-PS2-2. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.

Engineering Design 

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

  • MS-ETS1-1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS-ETS1-2 Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (ages 11 – 14)

Measurement Standard

-Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements. 

  • use common benchmarks to select appropriate methods for estimating measurements

Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (ages 14 – 18)

Measurement Standard

– Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements.

  • analyze precision, accuracy, and approximate error in measurement situations.

Common Core State Standards for School Mathematics Grades 2-8 (ages 7-14)

Measurement and data

  • Measure and estimate lengths in standard units.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.1 Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.
  • Represent and interpret data.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.3 Estimate lengths using units of inches, feet, centimeters, and meters.

Ratios & Proportional Relationships

  • Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.6.RP.A.3c Find a percent of a quantity as a rate per 100 (e.g., 30% of a quantity means 30/100 times the quantity); solve problems involving finding the whole, given a part and the percent.

Standards for Technological Literacy – All Ages

Design 

  • Standard 10: Students will develop an understanding of the role of 
  • troubleshooting, research and development, invention and innovation, and experimentation in problem solving.

Scenario

The World Robotic Basketball League’s top ranked team, the BOTS are looking for the best free-throw player they can find.  Tryouts are today!

Design Challenge

Design and build a “robot” basketball player that can shoot three free-throw shots accurately each time. The player that is the most accurate will get the job!

Criteria

  • Net must be 2 feet above the floor (or desk) and 6 feet from the “robot.”

Constraints

  • Use only the materials provided.
  • Only get 3 free-throw shots for the tryout.

Planning Stage

Meet as a team and discuss the problem you need to solve. Then develop and agree on a design for your robot. You’ll need to determine what materials you want to use.

 

Draw your design in the box below, and be sure to indicate the description and number of parts you plan to use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team members:___________________________________________________

 

Team Name:  _____________________________________________________

 

Brainstorm designs for your Robot Basketball Player:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose your best design and sketch it here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Construction Phase

Build your robot. During construction you may decide you need additional materials or that your design needs to change. This is ok – just make a new sketch and revise your materials list.

Testing Phase

Each team will test their robot. If your design was unsuccessful, redesign and test again. Be sure to watch the tests of the other teams and observe how their different designs worked.

Sketch your Final Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evaluation Phase

Evaluate your teams’ results, complete the evaluation worksheet, and present your findings to the class.

Use this worksheet to evaluate your team’s results in the Robot Basketball Lesson:

  1. What went well?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What didn’t go well?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Where there any trades-offs (an exchange that occurs as a compromise or concession) you had to make with your design? If so, explain:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What is your favorite element of your “Robot”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. If you had time to redesign again, what changes would you make?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accuracy: ______________ %

 

 

Precision: _________________

Lesson Plan Translation

[language-switcher]

Additional Translation Resources

Downloadable Student Certificate of Completion