Lego Robotics Programming

Hartwick Students to Showcase Robotic Programming Skills for Local Elementary School

January 22, 2013

Lego Robotics Programming is an introductory course offered at Hartwick College for students with no prior programming background. Offered every January term by Susan Carbone, associate professor and chair of the department of Computer & Information Sciences, and Associate Professor Howard Lichtman, the course covers the fundamentals of computer programming and then moves to the special topic of robotics programming.

"The Robot Showcase has become very popular with people from all over - both on- and off-campus - who look forward to seeing what our students have created each year," shared Carbone. "For the first time ever this year, Riverside Elementary School students will be coming to visit us. We are very excited about showcasing our students' creativity and programming skills."

Using LEGO NXT-G kits, students build and program robots of increasing complexity throughout the course, beginning on the first day. Robots must adapt their behavior based on input from the environment and simple algorithms. The LEGO NXT-G robots have input sensors for sound, light, touch and distance plus three motors for movement. Students build and program their robots to perform and modify them to handle more sophisticated problems as the student progresses in programming ability. Tasks for robots to perform include following a line, staying within a set boundary, advancing forward and backward avoiding obstacles, among others.

During January term, students have worked in teams of two in order to build and program several different robots including a card reader with a lock box, an M&M sorter and a robot that plays the children's game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors." As a final project, each team will build and program a robot of their choice; either something they have designed on their own or a robot whose building plans they have followed. On Friday, February 1, the class will host its Annual Robot Showcase, where students will present their final projects. This showcase, held on the Hartwick College campus, is free and open to the public. 

In addition to the Showcase, this year, Hartwick will host the local Riverside Elementary School grade 4 classes on Thursday, January 31. Select students from the programming course will present and demonstrate their projects and several other robots. The event will provide for an engaging learning opportunity for the grade 4 attendees and they'll also receive the chance to interact with certain robots during the demonstration as well.

For additional information, contact Carbone at 607-431-4852 or

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Valerie Capullo
Phone: 607-431-4031