Challenge the children to complete an obstacle course using radio controlled cars.
Early Learning Goal links
Understanding the World ELG: Past and Present – Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society;
Understanding the World ELG: People, Culture and Communities – Describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps;
Expressive Arts and Design ELG: Creating with Materials
– Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function;
– Share their creations, explaining the process they have used;
STEM vocabulary to introduce
Robot, robotics, machine, mechanical, programme, language, directions, commands, algorithms, forwards, backwards, left, right, up, down, turn, under, over
What to do – make a track
Remember to charge the cars or check the batteries!
Set out a track for the radio control cars to navigate. You might want to make this outside using chalk or inside using masking tape or different obstacles. You may want to have a target to aim for, as in our provocation.
What to do – control the cars
Tell the children that they are going to be observant like robotics engineers and test the cars to make sure that the controls are working correctly.
Challenge the children to drive the car around your track without hitting any obstacles. You may have a target or line for them to reach. Tell the children that they will need to be resilient like robotics engineers as it may take them a while to learn how to control the cars.
Let the children experiment with the controls until they can control the cars with confidence.
Questions to ask to support and extend learning
- How do you make your car move forwards?
- Can you make it go backwards or reverse?
- Can you turn your car?
- Can you turn it to the left and to the right?
- How will you get around that obstacle?
- Is there another way you can drive?
- Is it easy to control the cars?
- How do you think they work?
- How is the control telling the car what to do?
Other things to try
You could ask the children to draw or create the tracks for the cars.
Remember to refer to the children as robotics engineers and praise them for using the attributes. You could say things like:
“You have been resilient like a robotics engineer because you kept trying until you got the car to the target…”
The science of radio control
We have put together some useful information about the science of radio control to accompany this activity. Don’t worry, this is for your information only and to help you answer any questions children may have. We don’t expect you to explain this to the children in your setting!
How do radio control cars work?
Radio controlled toys have four main parts. You hold the transmitter in your hands to control the toy. It sends radio waves to the receiver. When we push the control, the transmitter sends a specific number of electrical pulses corresponding to that action through the air. The transmitter needs it’s own power supply to do this.
The receiver is in the car and has an antenna and circuit board inside the toy. This receives signals from the transmitter and activates motors inside the toy as commanded by the transmitter. The motor turns the wheels to make the car move or turn. There is also a power source in the receiver is which generally a rechargeable power pack.
When we press a button on the transmitter to make the toy go forward or backward, a pair of electrical contacts touch. The receiver identifies this signal and sends it to circuit board. This translates the number of electrical pulses (signals) into action. Full-function controllers have six controls (yours may have all or just some of these).
1. Forward: 16 pulses
2. Reverse: 40 pulses
3. Forward left: 28 pulses
4. Forward right: 34 pulses
5. Reverse left: 52 pulses
6. Reverse right: 46 pulses
What you’ll need
- Radio control car provocation
- Radio control cars
- Chalk (outside)
- Toys, blocks or other obstacles (inside)
- Masking tape (inside)
- The robotics engineer poster
- 5 to 10 minutes to set up or draw the track
- 10 minutes or so for the activity
- Overnight charging for the cars