Archive for the ‘General News’ Category
China Daily Europe recently interviewed Terry Sy, executive director of China ROBOTC, about robotics education. Check out the article below!
They are here to teach, not to steal your job
Education using robots promotes employment, says licensee for top US training system
The widely held belief that robots cost jobs is a fallacy, a robotics expert says.
Terry Sy, executive director of China ROBOTC, the only organization authorized in China to promote what is considered one of the world’s premier robotics education systems, says: “Many parents have asked me about the future of robots. I tell them that if they want their children never to face unemployment, let them do something related to robots.”
ROBOTC was developed at the Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University, the global research university, based in Pittsburgh.
It supports several different robotics platforms and features a variety of functions, including tips and tools for educators and parents on using robotics to teach children about math, science, engineering and physics.
Sy established China ROBOTC in Xi’an, northwestern China, which is considered the center of China’s aerospace, controls and automation market – the perfect location, arguably, to attract the kind of modern young minds who might consider a career in robotics.
“The people who make, apply and repair robots and who teach about robots will always be needed in future.”
Speaking at the recent China International Robot Show in Shanghai, Sy said he felt strongly that Carnegie Mellon’s programs and systems will be a huge benefit to the teaching of robotics in China, and will help narrow the knowledge gap that exists between Chinese and Western students.
The ROBOTC programming language has already been translated into 15 languages and used in more than 40 countries.
In the US alone, more than 300 colleges and 10,000 primary and secondary schools are using its curriculum, Sy says.
ROBOTC is a programming language that uses what is considered an easy-to-use development environment that supports several of the simplest and most commonly used different robotics platforms, including LEGO, VEX PIC, Cortex and Arduino.
It contains firmware that boosts performance and greatly improves program download times, its developers say.
It also features an interactive, run-time debugger, which helps developers find and fix bugs in programs, allowing them to view and edit all of the values that the robot sees – motors, timers, sensors and variables – and quickly pinpoint and troubleshoot problems in programs, greatly reducing the time it takes to develop a program.
“It is easy enough for primary students to learn, but also satisfies the needs of programming experts,” Sy says.
He had the idea of bringing the system to China in 2012, when he was in Beijing attending a national seminar on physical robots, on behalf of the Carnegie Robotics Academy.
At least 20 Chinese universities were at the event, and he found that many wanted to set up robot courses, but did not have qualified teachers, professional textbooks or robot platforms, let alone know how to run courses.
“Chinese students are very good at showing off innovative technologies in competitions, but China doesn’t have a good robot education system,” he says.
He adds the biggest defect in China’s robot education system, however, is that students are not taught how to program and just use existing written codes, which are not enough to develop their own talent further, so he decided to bring ROBOTC to China.
“ROBOTC language can support the world’s biggest robot platforms. It can help children become more innovative, and college students and workers gain more technical skills,” he says.
He chose Xi’an as it was less expensive and crowded than Beijing or Shanghai, but also because the region boasts about 60 universities.
He is now looking for a subsidiary in Shanghai, and more outlets are planned in other cities.
His plan is to increase collaboration with universities and schools by setting up robots in college laboratories.
So far two universities and several primary schools have adopted the system, and the goal is to bring it to 100 colleges, 100 middle schools and 100 primary schools, providing specialist robot training for teachers and technicians.
It is planned to offer training online, so the language can also be brought to people in remote villages or locations that do not have the resources to support robot education.
Sy is confident that despite robots still being a novelty to many in China, their use is set to grow fast.
In 2011, US President Barack Obama decided to give greater priority to the use of robotics in teaching the vital fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Sy believes it is now important for China to move in that direction.
“That is why we want to bring this kind of robot education to as many parts of China as we can, to make it part of the Chinese education system. This training will definitely help people become more logical and confident.”
Anna Lynn Martino attended one of our Professional Development classes recently and wrote a wonderful blog about her experience. Check it out below …
Reblogged – “Robots Oh My!” from (link temporarily unavailable)
Last week I attended another teacher training at CMU’s Robotics Academy. My goals this year was to be more comfortable working with ROBOTC, which is the programming language that my FTC robotics team uses. Also, I am teaching/mentoring/moderating our robotics class in the fall. As a middle school with a programming class, I thought my students would be better served by teaching them robotC but also I thought it would be great to have them also prepped for the team if they are interested in becoming part of the team.
Above is a collage showing the ROBOTC graphical interface, some “regular” ROBOTC, and a Tetrix bot.
Again, it was a really great workshop and I learned a lot! It is crazy. I have been teaching Scratch and this summer I introduced kids to Python and some basic programming in Arduino and I was struggling with explaining variables and functions. I got the basics but I had a hard time explaining it because I do not have a Comp Sci background but this time, I totally understood how variables and functions operating within a programming language. Tim Friez, our instructor, was really amazing and his style of teaching was perfect. I think, that his style is what a lot of teachers are starting to go for – in the parlance of our field – student-driven/centered.
We also had a teacher, who works on curriculum development at the center, come in and give us tips and hints about teaching robotics. It was practical advice and just giving us tips on what to be aware of. Also, in order to have a class, there is a fair amount of start-up costs.
What you need:
- The Robot kits (you might want different types)
- Fields (for kids to do their challenges on)
- license for the programming language
- license for the curriculum
- remote controls
- wifi/bluetooth adapters
- challenge elements (blocks, balls, cut pvc pipes, folders or books for walls
- colored electrical tape
- expansion kits if you have advanced students (which you will probably have)
I also met some really amazing people and it was great hearing what their challenges are and how they dealt with them. Most of us were just “regular teachers” which also made the prospect of having a robotics class less daunting.
I am again super excited about it but I also realize that I need to recharge. I am taking the next few weeks to do that before orientation week. I worked all of June and July. I do not want to go back feeling like I did not have this time to process all that I did this summer and last year.
If anyone is thinking about teaching robotics, I would highly highly recommend the CMU Robotics Academy. They offer online and campus workshops in the summer. They are going to have webinar soon about EV3 and ROBOTC.
Follow them on Twitter @ROBOTC or subscribe to their blog
Thank you, Anna for the great blog post! To read more from here blog, visit her at (link temporarily unavailable)!
FIRST TECH Challenge invited us to participate in their Summer Conference this week! Tim Friez, Senior Software Engineer, shared some advanced concepts in using ROBOTC such as understanding more about the Debugger, using 3rd Party Sensors, and coding practices to make your team more efficient and productive to develop reliable competition code. Check out the video below featuring his full presentation …
We were delighted to hear about an inaugural weeklong robotics summer camp happening in North Carolina that is using ROBOTC, ROBOTC Graphical, and the VEX Robotics IQ system to help teach students STEM while keeping them connected to their military families. (One of the mentors was trained at the Robotics Academy last summer too!) Read the story and watch the video highlighting this program below!
Reblog from East Carolina University’s News Service
ECU partners in Operation LINK mentoring program
Ten-year-old Tyrrek Grizzle took control of his paddle, maneuvering his miniature land mover with ease.
He and a teammate moved his robot across a grid and past an opponent to pick up as many green-colored blocks as possible and dump them in a coordinating green basket. The team that filled the basket with the most blocks in the three-minute competition won.
Grizzle attended an inaugural weeklong robotics summer camp through Operation LINK, an AmeriCorps school-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics mentoring program for elementary and middle grades students in eastern North Carolina. The STEM program, with a special emphasis on students from military families, will transition from an afterschool program to part of the regular school day this fall.
Offered this spring in Wayne County, the program aims to promote positive behaviors and success in school while keeping military youth connected to family. It’s a partnership between East Carolina University, AmeriCorps, military family support networks, veterans groups, community colleges and public schools.
The summer camp, held at Greenwood Middle School in Goldsboro, allowed students to make real robots from designs they developed in their afterschool program.
Counselors and campers used a box kit to construct a robot with up to 650 pieces. A software program (ROBOTC) developed at Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy gave the students the ability to control movements.
“We had fourth-graders writing code,” said Michael “Mike” Dermody, associate professor of cinematic arts and media production in the ECU School of Art. Dermody, who grew up in a military family, said “It’s amazing how quickly they adapt. It’s a very tactile and hands-on experience. They go in and test and modify it. There’s lots of activity between the computer itself and the robot.”
For Grizzle, a rising fifth-grader at Tommy’s Road Elementary School, taking his work from the computer lab to create a functioning robot is exciting. “Robots help you in a lot of ways,” said Grizzle. “They help us do things we can’t normally do ourselves.” Grizzle has cousins who serve in the military.
The pilot program will become part of the curriculum this fall at three Wayne County schools with a higher population of children from military families, said Lou U. Rose, Operation LINK coordinator in the ECU College of Education, which has facilitated the program.
“We will be able to impact more kids that way.”
Area teachers observed some of the program activities. “Some will do it as an elective in science and math classes,” Rose said.
“The beauty of this is they can tailor it and run with it and be creative. It brings relevancy in the real world, and maybe will get students interested in science.”
Michael Giddens, an AmeriCorps camp mentor who earned a teaching certificate in middle grades science and math from ECU in May, said students learned to collaborate and work as a team at the camp.
“The energy has been electrifying,” Giddens said. “Keeping them (students) engaged is a challenge in the classroom in the 21st century.”
One old-fashioned value students have learned has been patience, Giddens said, such as when broken robots have had to be re-assembled. Now poised to reach more students, the initial idea for the Operation LINK program was to create a way for military parents to interact with their children – via the web – while the parents were away from home. “It’s (been) a way to keep the child connected,” Dermody said.
Amy Perry’s nine-year-old daughter Kayla and 10-year-old daughter, Alexis, participated in the afterschool program. Perry, a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The Perry family doesn’t have a computer, internet or cable in their home. So the program has helped support her girls’ interests in science and technology. “It works for us,” she said.
Perry said the counselors encouraged her daughters’ unique personalities. “It’s allowing them to have the space to be who they are,” she said. “Respecting others is important.”
Kayla Perry said she enjoyed the computer lab and making a virtual robot. “I like the teachers. All the time they think of cool things for us to do,” she said. “They always come up with these amazing ideas.”
Program activities have helped build relationships between mentors and students, and among students, said Virginia Harris, a retired teacher and military spouse who taught 23 years in several states and overseas.
“I’ve seen changes in the students, being able to work together and learning to follow rules better,” Harris said. “One of the main things they learn is you’re not an island. You have to get along with people in life. I think it’s difficult for little people to work together as a team sometimes.”
To learn more, visit www.ecu.edu/operationlink.
ROBOTC user, Sigtrygg (forum name), recently shared a project on the ROBOTC forums that they have been working on called the NXT Room Explorer Bot with Mapping Functions. Check out the YouTube video of the robot in action …
Sigtrygg description and breakdown of the bot …
The robot is based upon a standard REM-Bot but in addition equipped with a HiTechnic gyro, HiTechnic compass sensor and an omni-wheel. First the robot moves about 360° to calibrate the compass using the gyro (thank you to Xander Soldaat for code!). Then the robot moves its sonar-head to the right, to the left and in front position to get the distances according to its position. After doing this it turns around to the wall with the minimum distance and drives in front of it until sonar sensor detected a minimum sensor distance, e.g. 20cm. Then the robot turns parallel to the wall, moves his sonar-head to the right detecting the distance to the wall and drives counter clockwise parallel to the wall balancing distance. A mapping-task records the compass and odometry data every second and calculate the polar coordinates to cartesian coordinates (x,y). The coordinates are written as “map.txt”-file. So you can use Excel or an other program to draw the path which the robot had moved. In addition to that you can follow the path at the NXT-LCD-screen. I had to choose a scale for it, so you have to suit the scale to your room size. If the robots touch sensor has detected an obstacle the robot moves back and turn left for 90 degrees and continuous his explorer-duty always running counter clockwise with wall to the right. How to expect the end of path doesn’t suit exactly to the beginning because of inaccuracies of compass and odometry measures.
To read more about this project, check out the ROBOTC Forum post here!
We are excited to give you a preview into our newest curriculum series: The Introduction to Programming VEX IQ with ROBOTC. The website is still in-the-works, but it should be completely ready by August. The focus for this curriculum is on the VEX IQ virtual and/or physical robot and the ROBOTC 4.0 software featuring the new graphical function. It consists of videos, PDFs, quizzes, and our famous easy to use step-by-step videos. Check out some of the videos of from our curriculum series …
The Introduction to Programming VEX IQ with ROBOTC is a curriculum module designed to teach core computer programming logic and reasoning skills using a robotics engineering context. It contains a sequence of projects (plus one capstone challenge) organized around key robotics and programming concepts.
Why should I use the Introduction to Programming EV3 Curriculum?
Introduction to Programming provides a structured sequence of programming activities in real-world project-based contexts. The projects are designed to get students thinking about the patterns and structure of not just robotics, but also programming and problem-solving more generally. By the end of the curriculum, students should be better thinkers, not just coders.
What are the Learning Objectives of the Introduction to Programming VEX IQ Curriculum?
- Basic concepts of programming
- Sequences of commands
- Intermediate concepts of programming
- Program Flow Model
- Simple (Wait For) Sensor behaviors
- Decision-Making Structures
- Engineering practices
- Building solutions to real-world problems
- Problem-solving strategies
For more info and to see the online version of the curriculum, visit http://curriculum.cs2n.org/vexiq.
An article titled, “Robots Are Everywhere! Learning About Technology From Robotics” was recently published on the Huffington Post website featuring the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy! The author, Dr. Julie Dobrow from Tufts University, reached out to some of the staff at the Robotics Academy to get their take on robotics in the classroom. Here are some excerpts from the article …
The “Robotics Academy” at Carnegie Mellon University features a variety of tips for educators and parents on using robotics to teach kids about math, science, engineering and physics. Their extremely well-organized website offers curricular information, products and support to demonstrate ways to use both VEX systems (essentially a kit with all the component parts that enables kids to build a robot) and LEGOs to teach many STEM principles. All of their work and products are based on extensive research.
Robin Shoop, Director of the CMU Robotics Academy, believes that some of the work they are doing at CMU can make learning come alive. “Robots provide the hook that can be used to excite students about STEM academic concepts. Robotics activities in and of themselves will not improve STEM academic performance, but if robotics technologies are introduced correctly, and the STEM academic concepts are properly foregrounded, then robotics provides an excellent organizer to teach kids about STEM.”
Ross Higashi, lead curriculum developer at CMU says, “It’s a common misconception that involving robots in a curriculum or afterschool program makes STEM magic happen. That’s simply not true… Robotics presents a wealth of opportunities to teach meaningful content. But doing that, it’s not trivial. It’s hard work. You need well-targeted lessons, and you need a teacher who can support students who are learning by doing. In the end, though, as many students and teachers will tell you: it’s absolutely worth it, and the hardest fun they’ve ever had.”
And kids do have fun. And not only kids. Jason McKenna, a K-8 teacher in the Hopewell(PA) Area School District who works with the CMU Robotics Academy points out that it’s the combination of high engagement, the ability to teach each student at his or her instructional level and provide opportunities for differentiated engagement “that makes Robotics such fun for me as a teacher.”
The ROBOTC and Robot Virtual World teams are thrilled to announce the availability of our newest virtual world: VEX IQ Highrise! Like previous simulations of the VEX competitions, this virtual world includes a fully programmable robot, the correctly scaled field, game objects, and score and timer tracking. It’s absolutely perfect for teams who want to do strategic planning and learn how to program.
Just like the official 2014-2015 VEX IQ competition, the object of the game is to attain the highest possible score by Scoring Cubes in the Scoring Zone and by building Highrises of Cubes of the same color on the Highrise Bases. Each Cube Scored in the Scoring Zone is worth a point value equal to the Highrise Height of the same color as the Cube. That is, if a team builds a Highrise of 3 red Scoring Cubes on the Highrise Base, a red cube in the Scoring Zone is worth 3 points.
The download for the VEX Highrise virtual world, along with additional helpful information can be found at RobotVirtualWorlds.com/VEXIQ.