The Calculator-Controlled Robot Program enhances math concepts taught in elementary, middle and high school. Students learn TI Basic programming language as they program their graphing calculators to perform missions which were modeled after the MARS Rover program. The curriculum was developed by Tyson Tuchscherer, an Einstein Fellow and math specialist in the NASA Explorer Schools program. The curriculum for the Calculator-Controlled Robots is available for free download at NASA's website:
To complete the missions, students learn to program their calculator robots to carry out a variety of tasks, including determining distance from speed and time measured with the robot, exploring the relationship between circumference, diameter, pi and programming the robot to navigate a maze. Extension exercises include using the calculator robot to simulate NASA's Crawler-Transporter, which was used to transport the Space Shuttle from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch platform.
The robots are manufactured by Norland Research and sold as kits. Assembling the kits involves attaching the wheels and traction covers, the touch-sensor bumper, installing the batteries, and configuring the link cable to attach to the calculator. Any Texas Instruments Graphing Calculator (TI-83 series, TI-84 series, TI-85 series, TI-86 series, TI-89 series and TI-92 series) can be used with the robot.