Introduction to Robotics/About This Course

Organization and MethodologyEdit

This course is being organized into logical blocks. Each block corresponds approximately to 3 hours of lecture and 3 hours of lab. In many settings, this is approximately 1 week worth of study, but it can be expanded or contracted to meet other needs.

The course will be predominantly hands-on. Much of the learning will be done in the laboratory setting. In some blocks, the lecture material will be relatively light, and it will be suggested that the instructor cut the lecture short to devote additional time to lab work.


The textbook for the course will be the PBASIC Programming textbook on Wikibooks. Other free wikibooks, such as those on electric circuits or robotics may also be used.


Every block has, at least:

  1. A lecture
  2. A Lab Assignment
  3. A homework or self-work assignment
  4. A quiz

The lecture notes will be set up for about 2 - 3 hours of lecture material per block. The lab assignments, also, will be set up for about 2 - 3 hours of material per block. Homework assignments should take about 1 hour to complete on average. Quizzes should take about 15 - 20 minutes.


Every second block will have a test that covers the previous two blocks. Starting at the fourth block onward, every second block will also contain a cumulative test option that will cover material from all previous blocks.

Instructors may decide not to have quizzes, tests, and cumulative tests all in the same block.

Tests are designed to take about 1 hour to complete. Cumulative tests are designed to take between 1 - 2 hours to complete and will serve as decent mid-term or final exams.

Tests and QuizzesEdit

The field of engineering, where robotics typically falls into, is based heavily on problem-solving and information synthesis. Tests and quizzes will contain some questions that involve rote memorization and comprehension. However, tests and quizzes will also test the student's abilities to solve problems. Some of these questions will ask students to interpret things that they have never seen before, or develop solutions to problems they have not been exposed to.

Questions of this type will be clearly delineated from the rest of the test/quiz, and it will be left up to the instructor to determine whether these questions are appropriate for the class.

Grading of these problems can be difficult because there is no "right" answer, and few students will be able to complete the questions entirely in the time alloted. However, it should be enough to see the intentions of the students, and determine if:

  1. The student is attempting to use information from class to solve the problems and
  2. If the student understands the concepts involved, and is able to figure out where to start the problem, if not where to finish it.


Every activity in a block has three components: An introduction page, a students page, and a teachers page. The student's page represents a handout, or other materials that are to be given to the students. The teacher's page represents the teaching notes and answer sheets that the teacher should see but the students should not. The introduction pages lay out the learning objectives of the activity, and other details that can be known by both teachers and students.

Term ProjectEdit

Depending on the timeframe of the class and the available resources, Instructors may want to institute a "design project" that will span the majority of the term. Design projects can be started by the third block, and should be continued throughout the entire course. We will discuss some potential design projects in another chapter.

If the class is being taught for engineering students, a term project is recommended.

Students should work in groups of 2 - 4, to help reinforce the ideas of team work and interdependence. Instructors may require the students to prepare a multimedia presentation about their project, or write a report about the project, or both.

Instructors may wish to use class time to work on the term project.

The term project will be presented at 3 different times:

  • It will be introduced in Block 2. Students should form groups and select ideas in Block 2.
  • It will be reviewed in Block 6, and information about the deliverables and final presentation, if any, will be given out to students.
  • The students will demonstrate their projects in Block 8, and will also give the instructor any necessary deliverables. The "For Teachers" page of the term project in block 8 will include grading guidelines.

Block ScheduleEdit

Blocks are arranged with a certain dependence from one activity to the other. Here is a breakdown of this:

  1. Lecture: Lecture introduces the topic, and provides background information.
  2. Assignments: Test the students on a individual basis to ensure that they've learned the necessary material in the lecture.
  3. Lab: Material learned in the lecture and assignment will be used hands-on in the lab
  4. Quiz: All lessons of the block will be summarized in the quiz. Lecture notes, assignments and lab work are all suitable study aides for the quiz.

Learning AidesEdit

Two types of learning aides are provided: Printed handouts, and visual aides.

Printed handouts, or more simply "printouts", are pages that can be printed and handed to the students for their own use. These sheets contain the days date, a space for the student's name, and a series of notes designed to fit on an 8 × 11 sheet of paper. Lab assignments and homework assignments will not be provided via handouts. Quizzes and Tests will be provided as printouts.

Visual aides are simple visual helper objects that can be used by the instructor during lecture. These aides are formatted to be used as a slide in a slide presentation (such as MS powerpoint), on a transparency projector, or as a diagram reproduced on the chalk board.