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Introduction to Lego EV3 Robotics

We have recently received some Lego EV3 Robotics systems in the department and the Informatics Centre was given the job of putting them through their paces.

James building the Lego educator

We got the robotics systems as part of an initiative funded by the Higher Education Academy to promote active learning to aid student retention and success.

For those who don't know about EV3, it is a system developed by Lego using pieces very similar to the technics pieces you may be familiar with. The big difference is that the EV3 system comes with a linux based "brick" computer and some very advanced software.

The software is used by students to get building instructions, program their EV3 brick, data logging and create portfolios of work.

We are also lucky enough to have the Design and Engineering software upgrade which gives us access to complex builds requiring some very intricate programming. Programming the EV3 system can either be done by using the lego education software or a third party piece of software for more advanced "hardcore code" programming.

Along with the Design and Engineering upgrade we also purchased a couple of expansion kits that gave us hundreds of extra pieces of specialist lego to build even bigger and better robotic systems.

So, when the geeks in the Informatics Centre were given the chance to test out the kits before we let the students loose on them, they jumped at the chance! After all, who would turn down a nostalgic chance to re-live your childhood!

The EV3 system was first spotted by Adam Crane and Dominic Langmead when the department sent them to BETT 2013. BETT is one of Europe's leading educational technology conference and exhibitions.

Whilst primary and secondary schools are using EV3 to teach pupils programming, we opted for a different approach. The user interface of the software is icon based and this appeals to schoolchildren. We feel that by using EV3 for level 4 students, the icon based software and functionality of the EV3 brick helps teach and promote logic or more, how to think logically. This is a core fundamental principle of programming.

Lego EV3 also helps promote team building, problem solving and working to deadlines.

So, whether you are a teacher, programming enthusiast, robotics fan or just a plain old tech geek, the EV3 system is a fantastic robotics and programming activity bundle. For those who don't work in a school or university, there is a retail version of EV3 available too!

Who built what?

Adam and Kate - The Stair Climber

Matt and James - The robot educator base model (Surprise, surprise, our lead developers wanted to dive straight into the programming!)

Lucas and Neil - The colour sorter (This is one of our favourites!)

James building the Lego educator
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