How Does an Ultrasonic Sensor Work?

Students learn about how ultrasonic sensors work, reinforcing the connection between this sensor and how humans, bats and dolphins estimate distance. They learn the echolocation process—sound waves transmitted, bounced back and received, with the time difference used to calculate the distance of objects. Two mini-activities, which use LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 robots and ultrasonic sensors, give students a chance to experiment with ultrasonic sensors in preparation for the associated activity. A PowerPoint® presentation explains stimulus-to-response pathways, sensor fundamentals, and details about the LEGO ultrasonic sensor. Pre/post quizzes are provided. This lesson and its associated activity enable students to gain a deeper understanding of how robots can take sensor input and use it to make decisions via programming.