Vorpal Hexapod Activity: Race

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Contents

Required items

  • Floor space about ten feet (3 meters) by six to eight feet (about 1.8 to 2.4 meters). The floor should not be carpeted, but any smooth floor such as tile, wood, or linoleum will work.
  • Two items to race around. These can be any items that will lay flat on the floor and would be stable. Books are perfect. In this description we will use books, but any similar item could be used.
  • A small piece of any kind of tape to mark a starting line.
  • If you only have one robot, a timer of some kind. Most smart phones and tablets have timer clock apps built in.
  • Something to record scores on such as a white board, paper and pencil, laptop with a text editor app, etc.
  • It is good to have a few battery packs so each contestant can have reasonably fresh batteries.

Activity Procedure

  • Place the books (or whatever you are using to race around) on the floor about six to ten feet (2 to 3 meters) apart.
  • Designate some place on the floor as a starting line, mark it with a piece of tape.
  • If you only have one robot, each contestant takes turns racing against the clock, record times. If you have multiple robots, they may race all at once. Flip a coin to determine which racer gets the "inside track".
  • Decide on a number of laps. Two or three laps is enough. If you have very few battery packs, you can do a single lap.
  • The Hexapods will run in a "figure 8" pattern around the two stacks of books. Be sure each contestant knows what this means!
  • Best time wins!
  • NOTE: A battery pack using 6xAAA batteries will be fair for about 3 races consisting of 2 laps each race, after which the pack should be changed so things remain fair.

Hints

Try using "Scamper Mode" when you're not turning to maximize your speed. Although you don't have as much control it's much faster for short bursts.

Variations

  • STRAIGHT TRACK: This variation uses a straight race (like a sprint) with both a start and finish line where no turning is needed. You will still need to turn a bit here and there to compensate for drift. Although it will not teach the contestants as much about controlling the robot, for younger children a straight race is easier and can give them an initial success to boost confidence.
    • Hint: switching from scamper mode (W 4) for straight runs to small step mode (W 3) for course corrections is a good strategy.
  • RELAY RACE: If you have at least two robots, a relay race can be run. The first robot runs the first "leg" of the relay, when it touches the second robot (sitting in wait at the starting line) then the second robot goes, total time for the team of two players is recorded.
    • Pro tip: The referee should strictly require that the first robot touch the second before the second moves even a little. A time penalty should be assessed for an early start.