Educational Robots for Absolute Beginners -
LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Robots
Frequently Asked Questions
This page is about the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Course. If you’re interested in learning about LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot programming you may want to visit the LEGO Mindstorms NXT Robots Course
Frequently Asked Questions
I really am an absolute beginner - I've never programmed before and I've never done anything with robots - is this course really suitable for me?
- This course is designed for people who have absolutely no experience with programming or robotics, though you do need to have some computer experience. If you are comfortable using your computer to do things like create documents, surf the web, send emails, etc. and you have a basic understanding of how to find files and folders on your PC using "my computer" or on your Mac using "finder" you should be fine.
How do I sign up?
How does the course work?
- This is a five week course. Each week we will add roughly 10 short lessons to our course web site. Most lessons take the form of a few 5-10 minute videos plus some self-test questions for you to track your own progress. In addition, we give you five suggested "robot projects" to work on during the final 3 weeks of the course.
When does the course start?
How much time will it take each week?
- We estimate that week one (which has no robot activities) will take you an hour or two. We estimate that it will take most beginners 4-6 hours each week to watch the videos and do the activities for weeks two through five.
What happens if I don't have time to finish a given week of the course as scheduled?
- We encourage you to stick with our schedule - that way the discussions in the web forums will be more useful to you. However, if you're too busy to do so, you are welcome to take the course at your own pace.
Can I start this course late?
- We have no plans to close the course after registration - while we can not promise you that the course material will be up indefinitely, we anticipate that you will be able to sign up and begin the course later if you wish.
Is this course really free?
I'm not a teacher, can I still take this course for free?
- Yes. While this course is designed with teachers in mind, it is free and open to anyone who is interested.
Why do I need to have a Google account to take the course?
- Our course was built using the Google Course-Builder tool. In order to register for the course, you need to have a Google account.
How do I get a Google Account?
Do I need to have a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robot to take this course?
- There's no requirement that you have a robot. Week one of the course is a general introduction to the field of educational robotics in general and the LEGO EV3 robot in particular and doesn't require a robot at all. After week one you will need a robot, together with the LEGO EV3 software to complete all the exercises.
I don't have a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robot and software. Where can I get one?
- There are two ways to buy the EV3 robot and software. The course is based on the educational kit, but the commercial (or home) kit is very similar
- User Guide (PDF download)
- The commercial version of the software is available as a free download. This is very close to the educational software that we use in the course - there are only a couple of lessons ("robot educator" and "data logging") that you won't be able to do. This software works with both the educational and commercial kits.
Do you know of any resources for getting grants to fund the purchase of robots?
- Finding funding for robots can be a challenge. The one resource I know of specifically for this question is the LEGO Education Grants web site.
I have a LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot - can I use that for this course?
- If you have an NXT robot and the NXT software, you will find many similarities between programming the EV3 and programming the NXT. You're welcome to take our course, but if you're an absolute beginner, you may find the differences significant enough that it will be more confusing than helpful. Consider signing up for and taking the course we previously designed for the LEGO NXT robot: https://cs4hsrobots.appspot.com.
I have a LEGO Mindstorms RCX robot - can I use that for this course?
- If you have an RCX robot and the RCX software, you will find some similarities between programming the RCX and programming the EV3. You're welcome to take our course, but if you're an absolute beginner, you may the differences significant enough that it will be more confusing than helpful.
Why did you pick the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robot and not a different robot?
- There are many excellent robots available for educational use and we are not trying to suggest that the LEGO EV3 is the best for all applications. We picked the EV3 robot for several reasons including:
- They offer an easy-to-learn visual programming language
- Many schools may already own them
- We are big fans of (and involved in) FIRST LEGO League which is a great way to get 9-14 year olds in robot programming. FIRST LEGO League requires that teams use of one of the LEGO Mindstorms robots.
I'm a teacher. Is there a way for me to get professional development credit for this course?
- While we do offer a certificate of completion, we are not currently able to offer professional development credits at this time. The certificate of completion requires that a colleague review your completed robot projects and is signed by your school principal. You may wish to speak with your school district to see if they'd be willing to grant you professional development credits for this class.
I'm a teacher, can I get a certificate of completion for this course?
- Yes! To be eligible to receive a certificate of completion, you need to complete all 5 robot projects successfully and have them reviewed by a colleague that your principal designates. The certificate of completion has a line on it for your principal's signature, to certify that you successfully completed all the projects. We ask everyone, but particularly those who apply for a certificate of completion, to give us some feedback about the course so that we can make it better for you and future students.
I'm not a teacher, can I get a certificate of completion for this course?
- Yes, though it may not be as meaningful if you're not a teacher. Because we do not have a way to check your robot projects ourselves, we only offer the "teacher style" certificate which has a space for a principal's signature.
I'm a project reviewer, where can I find the rubrics for project evaluation?
- The rubrics will not be posted until the projects are made public. Once the projects are made public, the rubrics will be available at: http://www.rowan.edu/robots/cs4hs
I'm a school principal and have been asked to certify a certificate of completion. What does this mean?
- Due to the massive size of this course (we anticipate having hundreds of teachers participate), we are unable to evaluate the projects ourselves. We ask that you, or your designee (we suggest this be another administrator, supervisor, or teacher), review each of the five robot projects using the rubrics we provide. The rubrics will not be posted until the projects are made public. Once the projects are made public, the rubrics will be available at:http://www.rowan.edu/robots/cs4hs