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Extend Your STEM Robotics Classroom with Robot Virtual Worlds

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Teacher Feedback

Whether you’re just starting a robotics program, or you’ve been teaching robotics for years, you’re probably on the lookout for new and interesting activities to keep your students engaged and learning. Robomatter’s Robot Virtual Worlds, a high-end simulation environment that enables students to learn programming without a physical robot, is a great tool to help.

Palm Island GameThrough classroom environments, competitions environments, and game environments, Robot Virtual Worlds enables you to create a scaffold learning experience to teach students important math, programming, proportional reasoning, and computational thinking skills.

And, by combining Robot Virtual Worlds with our curriculum, you gain access to step-by-step tutorial videos that teach students how to program using motors, sensors and remote control, as well as practice challenges that allow students to apply what they’ve learned in either a virtual or physical robot environment.
Designed to complement a physical robot classroom, Robot Virtual Worlds is a natural fit for teachers who have limited budgets. But, not only does Robot Virtual Worlds help you do more with fewer resources, you can also use it to enhance your students’ STEM experience.

Here are just a few ideas:

Create an In-Class Robotics Competition: Robotics competitions are a great way to motivate students and keep them engaged. But, they also provide a great opportunity to teach important math, programming, proportional reasoning, and computational thinking skills. By using Robot Virtual Worlds in conjunction with our curriculum, you can create a scaffold learning experience for your students that’s both exciting and engaging. The schedule below is just one idea for how you can use an in-class Robot Virtual Worlds competition in your classroom:

RVW_Teaching_Calendar copy

RVW Info 03

Use it as a Pre-Assessment: When students return from summer break, some will have retained all or most of what they learned the previous year. Others will have retained far less. But how do you know? Most teachers work under the assumption that they need to review everything before moving on to a new concept. Using a pre-assessment can help you make intelligent instructional decision about what you need to review and when you can move on. Here’s one way you can use Robot Virtual Worlds as a pre-assessment to direct your instruction: Create a challenge in the Robot Virtual World Level Builder that asks students to utilize different programming concepts. You’ll be able to see what skills the students have retained and what skills you need to review, and that can be a tremendous time-saver.

RVW Info 05

Use it to Manage Students Working at Different Levels: One of the hardest things for a teacher to do is teach to each individual student’s current instructional level. Robot Virtual Worlds can help. Let’s say you have a student who is struggling to learn some of the beginning ROBOTC concepts and another that is breezing through the curriculum. With Robot Virtual Worlds, you can easily differentiate instruction by using the Robot Virtual World Level Builder to create a challenge for each student. Additionally, if students are working in Palm Island or Operation Reset, you can have one student program their robot to make turns while using timing, and have the other student use the Gyro Sensor. That means you can differentiate instruction within the SAME lesson.

RVW Info 02

Assign Robotics Homework: One of the problems with using physical robots alone is that there often aren’t enough robots for each student to have their own. And, even if there were, you might not want to have students take the robots home, for all sorts of reasons. With Robot Virtual Worlds and the Homework Pack, you can easily assign robotics homework without having to worry about managing the logistics of physical robots. The Homework Pack allows students to have their own individual licenses to use Robot Virtual Worlds at home. The Homework Packs also come in handy for students who have missed class and need to make up work.

Measurement

Mathematize Solutions: With the Robot Virtual Worlds Measurement Toolkit, students don’t need to guess how far a robot needs to travel to solve programming problems. With intelligent path planning and navigation, you can have students do the math, show their work, and explain how they solved the problem.

RVW Info 04

Get New Students up to Speed: As teachers, your days are filled with the unexpected. One of the most challenging surprises is when you are told that you will have a new student in class because the student just moved to your district. Your class may be three or four months into the ROBOTC curriculum, and your new student may have no ROBOTC or programming experience. Here is where Robot Virtual Worlds came be a lifesaver. Instead of having the new student jump into whatever challenge your students are doing with physical robots, you can have the new student watch the lessons from the ROBOTC Curriculum and complete the challenges in the Curriculum Companion Pack. After the student begins to learn some ROBOTC basics, he or she can be introduced to the challenge that the rest of class is working on.

Go to robotvirtualworlds.com to learn more and get started with a free, 10-day trial!

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Written by Cara Friez

September 1st, 2015 at 6:15 am

You spoke, we listened!

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Webinar Series

We’re here to help you make the most of your school year. That’s why we’re making some small tweaks to our webinar schedule, based on your feedback. To help you guys gear up for the competition season, we’re making the following changes:

  • Wednesday, September 9: Using ROBOTC and Robot Virtual Worlds to prepare for VEX Competitions
  • Tuesday, September 29: CS2N Automated Assessment Tools
  • Tuesday, October 21st: Using Robot Virtual Worlds in the Classroom

Read more about each webinars here!

Visit robotc.net/hangouts to join. In the meantime, if you have any questions, visit our forums for lots of great discussions and tips about Robot Virtual Worlds, ROBOTC, and competitions!

Written by Cara Friez

August 26th, 2015 at 11:02 am

5 Tips to Help You Streamline Your STEM Robotics Classroom

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Blog - 5 Tips STEM

Running a STEM robotics classroom can seem a little overwhelming, especially if resources are tight. How can you keep your classroom running smoothly if you don’t have a lot of resources? It’s easier than you might think. Here are a few tips to help:

Screenshot-2014-01-15_14.12.031. Use virtual robots. Virtual robots, like Robot Virtual Worlds, are a great way to add to your robotics classroom without adding to your costs. Designed to supplement physical robots, Robot Virtual Worlds allows you to teach robotics with fewer robots and more easily organize and keep track of your classroom.

You can also more easily mange students who are working at different levels, assign robotics homework, and use simulated fantasy worlds to capture students’ imaginations and make learning fun. Visit robotvirtualworlds.com to get started with a free 10-day trial.

 

2. Explore grants and other funding options. Curious about grants but don’t know where to start? There are a lot of grants and funding for STEM teachers, if you only know where to look.

Project Lead The Way has a great list of grants, as well as some information on citizen philanthropy on its site.  And, Edutopia’s “Big List of Educational Grants and Resources” page is also worth a visit.

 

CMU RA copy3. Take advantage of free resources. While this one seems obvious, it’s not always obvious where to go for quality resources. STEM is a hot topic right now, which means there’s a lot to sort through on the internet. Here are just a few of the free resources we like:

There are a lot of great webinars, blogs, and forums as well. For example, you can check out our Back-to-School Webinar Series or join the discussion on our forums.

 

4. Invest in training. Investing in the right training will help you get the most out of your STEM classroom. Because STEM requires students to take a more active role in their learning process, look for training programs that provide practical, hands-on experience to help you manage your STEM classroom and maximize your resources.

By partnering with Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy, Robomatter is able to offer a full line of training for STEM robotics teachers. Click here to learn more about online and onsite training for VEX and LEGO platforms.

 

Uncomplicate 25. Take advantage of contests and giveaways. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to get free stuff. There are lots of organizations who want to help STEM teachers and students. Take a look at these sites for some ideas:

Written by Cara Friez

August 25th, 2015 at 6:30 am

Join Us for the Back to School Webinar Series – UPDATED!

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Webinar Series 2

To make sure you’re ready to take on the school year, we’ll be hosting a series of webinars to help you get your robotics classroom up and running. Check out our webinar schedule below and visit http://robotc.net/hangouts to join!

 

  • You may have heard about Robot Virtual Worlds, a high-end simulation environment that enables students to learn programming without a physical robot. But, how do you use it in the classroom? Join this webinar to learn the many ways Robot Virtual Worlds can help you simplify and extend your robotics classroom.

 

  • CS2N Assessment Tools: September 29 @ 7:00 pm EDT
  • We know that all teachers love grading, right? Computer Science Student Network’s (CS2N) Automated Assessment allows teachers to keep track of their students’ submissions, scores, and progress. Learn how to create a CS2N Group for your different classrooms, import student rosters, automatically track progress of Robot Virtual Worlds, and how to utilize some of the free courses offered through CS2N

 

  • ROBOTC is the most used language for the VEX IQ Challenge, and for the VEX Robotics Competition. Robot Virtual Worlds provides a virtual environment for robotics teams to learn the program. Put the two together and you have a powerful combination that can help your team be competition-ready. And, you also have a great way to provide open-ended programming challenge for students of all abilities, whether those students will be competing or not. Learn more in this great webinar!  

 

If you can’t make a webinar, don’t worry! Each webinar will be recorded, post here, and posted on  http://robotc.net/hangouts the following day. Check out the past webinars below …

  • Getting started with ROBOTC for PLTW: August 19 @ 7:00 pm EDT
  • Learn everything you need to know about getting your PLTW robotics classroom up and running with ROBOTC. This C-based programming language has an easy-to-use development environment and is the premier robotics programming language for educational robotics and competitions. 

(Starts at 1:56)

Written by Cara Friez

August 14th, 2015 at 10:43 am

VEX CORTEX Trainer: Gyro Sensor Chapter Now Available!

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VEX Cortex Trainer The latest chapter within our latest VEX CORTEX Video Trainer Curriculum is now available … Gyro Sensor! Located in the Sensing section, this chapter will allow you to to turn the robot by measurements of degrees.

Some of the lessons you’ll learn within this chapter includes:

  • How the Gyro Sensor works

  • How to account for the momentum of the robot when turning.

  • How to use the Gyro Sensor to reduce Accumulated Error.

  • How to use the Gyro Sensor to increase turning accuracy.

 

Gyro Chapters
 

Check out one of the chapter videos here:


 

End Gyro SectionAt the end, there are two programming challenges, Mine Traversal and Robo 500, that can be completed with either a physical or virtual robot.

 

Check out the entire curriculum here!

 
 
 

Written by Cara Friez

July 2nd, 2015 at 7:25 am

Best #ROBOTC Twitter Posts – 3rd Edition

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We LOVE getting Twitter posts sent to us about ROBOTC. In the last few months, you have shared even more great posts and pictures with us. We decided to make a THIRD compilation of some of our favorites so you can check out some of the cool projects going on …

Do you have a ROBOTC picture/video/post you would like to share with us on Twitter? If so, include #ROBOTC or @ROBOTC in your message.

Written by Cara Friez

June 18th, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Robotics Summer of Learning Starts Today!

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SummerOfLearning2015_UPDATED

Robotics Summer of Learning Opens Today!

The Robotics Summer of Learning (RSOL) opens today! This summer, students have the opportunity to learn how to program virtual robots using a FREE copy of Robot Virtual Worlds where they can program VEX IQ or LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 virtual robotsAll RSOL courses are self-paced with e-mail support available at rsol@cs2n.org.

Sign up here!

 

 


Learn to Code : Learn to Think!

Just a few of the great reasons to join this year’s Robotics Summer of Learning:

  • All software and trainings are free for the entire summer.
  • No robotics hardware required.
  • Access to self-paced training and high quality curriculum designed to help new users.
  • Learning to program with Virtual robots takes 1/3 less time compared to physical robots! Read more about the study results here!
  • ROBOTC Graphical allows you to drag and drop blocks of code from the menu to get your program created even faster!
  • Earn a programming certificate and badges from CMU’s Robotics Academy.

 

It’s Easy To Get Started!

1. Visit The Computer Science Student Network

If you do not already have aCS2N account, sign up for free! Then click one of our Summer of Learning Courses (VEX IQ or LEGO EV3) to register.

 

 

 

 

2. Download the Software

Follow the instructions on CS2N to download bothRobot Virtual Worlds andROBOTC for free!

 

 

 

 

 

3. Start Programming!

Have fun learning how to code with fun Robot Virtual Worlds!

 

 

 

Sign up here!

 

Written by Cara Friez

June 15th, 2015 at 9:09 am

Download ROBOTC for VEX Robotics 4.32 Today!

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ROBOTC 4-32
 

The ROBOTC Development Team is very excited to announce our latest update, ROBOTC 4.32. This update is for the VEX Robotics (VEX EDR CORTEX and VEX IQ) robotics systems and includes new features, functionality and a load of bug fixes.

 

Click here to download 4.32!
Important Setup Information for ROBOTC 4.32:

VEX IQ Users:

  • Run the “VEX IQ Firmware Update Utility” and update your VEX IQ Brain to firmware version 1.15.
  • Users will also have to update their VEX IQ Wireless Controller in addition to any other VEX IQ Devices (sensors, motors) that may need to be updated as well.
  • After updating to the latest VEX IQ Brain firmware, users will also have to install the latest ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

VEX Cortex Users (with Black VEXnet 1.0 Keys):

  • You will need to update your VEX Cortex and VEX Game Controllers with Master Firmware Version 4.25 from inside of ROBOTC.
  • After updating the master firmware, users will also have to update the VEX Cortex with the latest ROBOTC firmware as well.

VEX Cortex Users (with White VEXnet 2.0 Keys):

  • The new VEXnet 2.0 keys have a specific “radio firmware” that you will need to upgrade to enable “Download and Debugging” support. You can download the VEXnet Key 2.0 Firmware Upgrade Utility here.
  • Download the “VEXnet Key 2.0 Firmware Upgrade Utility” and insert your VEXnet 2.0 key to any free USB port on your computer. Follow the instructions on the utility to update each key individually. All VEXnet 2.0 keys must be running the same version in order to function properly.
  • After updating your VEXnet 2.0 keys, you will need to update your VEX Cortex and VEX Game Controllers with Master Firmware Version 4.25 from inside of ROBOTC.
  • After updating the master firmware, users will also have to update the VEX Cortex with the latest ROBOTC firmware as well.

ROBOTC 4.30 —> 4.32 Change Log:

Robot Virtual Worlds Package Manager

Robot Virtual Worlds Package Manager simplifies keeping your RVW worlds up-to-date and allows you to easily download new ones.

RBC Macro Editor

The RBC Macro Editor allows you to quickly create a ROBOTC Text-Based or Graphical macro file that will pre-configure many aspects of the UI, such as platform, the debugger windows that are to be opened, the default save-as file name and many others. If you are targeting Virtual Worlds, you can also select which world should be used.

General Changes

  • Debugstream has been made more robust to prevent buffer overflows and corrupted data.
  • Added quick access, “Add License” menu item.
  • Added command line option to deactivate all active, non-building licenses (-DEACTIVATE).
  • “SensorValue” intrinsic definition changed from ‘word’ to ‘int’. This will allow it be be either ‘short’ or ‘long’ depending on the native “int” format of specific platform.
  • CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+D” is new keyboard accelerator to open preferences.
  • All libraries (DLLs) and executables are now signed.

General Bug Fixes

  • Fix issue where a “save as” with a new document -> then a subsequent “save” would cause a “save as” prompt in the wrong location.
  • Fix enumeration bug in Joystick Driver
  • Context menu for large ICON toolbar changes now take immediate effect.
  • Fix the repeatUntil(0) warning message to say “‘repeat until’ expression is constant ‘0’. Loop will never exit.”
  • Fix issue with command line deactivation with building licenses
  • IDE was not removing error flags from graphical blocks.
  • Long operands on opcodes “&” “|”, “^” and “~” were incorrectly handling negative 16-bit constants.
  • Fix bug in addTo/MinusTo/DivideTo/TimesTo opcode when variable is a global short variable and the operand is a 16-bit or less compile time constant.
  • Fix issue that prevented functions that return pointers to be dereferenced in an expression.
  • Fixed a bug where the missing “Name” field would cause a crash for the command line activation.

Graphical

  • Hitting the Control key no longer deselects all the things.
  • Bug causing Graphical Block artefacts on the screen has been fixed.

VEX

  • Added 2 more RVW Cortex Standard Models.
  • Enhancements to improve the VEX Cortex IME functionality in Virtual Worlds
  • Fixed download firmware button not allowing you to cancel the procedure
  • Small fix for VEX Cortex to disable sensor ports during initialization to prevent solenoid jitter.
  • Fixed issue of “SQUAREBOT” standard model having PID control enabled with quadrature encoders.
  • Fixed issue of “SQUAREBOT” standard model not having the VEX LCD configured.
  • Removed the quadrature encoders from the “SQUAREBOT – IME” standard model.

Happy Programming!

Written by Cara Friez

June 12th, 2015 at 5:29 pm

ROBOTC for LEGO MINDSTORMS 4.32 Available Today!

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ROBOTC 4-32 LEGO
 

The ROBOTC Development Team is excited to announce our latest update, ROBOTC 4.32! This update is for the LEGO MINDSTORMS (NXT and EV3) robotics systems and includes new features, functionality and a load of bug fixes.

Click here to download 4.32!

Important Setup Information for ROBOTC 4.32:

LEGO NXT Users:

  • Simply update to the latest ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

LEGO EV3 Users:

  • All users will need to update the  LEGO EV3′s Kernel by connecting the EV3 and selecting “Robot Menu -> Download EV3 Linux Kernel” from inside of ROBOTC. The version number (1.07X) is the same to keep alignment with the EV3 Programming Software and LEGO’s releases.
  • After updating your EV3′s Linux Kernel, you’ll also need to update the ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

ROBOTC 4.30 —> 4.32 Change Log:

Robot Virtual Worlds Package Manager

Robot Virtual Worlds Package Manager simplifies keeping your RVW worlds up-to-date and allows you to easily download new ones.

RBC Macro Editor

The RBC Macro Editor allows you to quickly create a ROBOTC Text-Based or Graphical macro file that will pre-configure many aspects of the UI, such as platform, the debugger windows that are to be opened, the default save-as file name and many others. If you are targeting Virtual Worlds, you can also select which world should be used.

General Changes

  • Debug Stream has been made more robust to prevent buffer overflows and corrupted data.
  • Added quick access, “Add License” menu item.
  • Added command line option to deactivate all active, non-building licenses (-DEACTIVATE).
  • “SensorValue” intrinsic definition changed from ‘word’ to ‘int’. This will allow it be be either ‘short’ or ‘long’ depending on the native “int” format of specific platform.
  • CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+D” is new keyboard accelerator to open preferences.
  • All libraries (DLLs) and executables (EXEs) are now signed.

General Bug Fixes

  • Fix issue where a “save as” with a new document -> then a subsequent “save” would cause a “save as” prompt in the wrong location.
  • Fix enumeration bug in Joystick Driver
  • Context menu for large ICON toolbar changes now take immediate effect.
  • Fix the repeatUntil(0) warning message to say “‘repeat until’ expression is constant ‘0’. Loop will never exit.”
  • Fix issue with command line deactivation with building licenses
  • IDE was not removing error flags from graphical blocks.
  • Long operands on opcodes “&” “|”, “^” and “~” were incorrectly handling negative 16-bit constants.
  • Fix bug in addTo/MinusTo/DivideTo/TimesTo opcode when variable is a global short variable and the operand is a 16-bit or less compile time constant.
  • Fix issue that prevented functions that return pointers to be dereferenced in an expression.
  • Fixed a bug where the missing “Name” field would cause a crash for the command line activation.

Graphical

  • Hitting the Control key no longer deselects all the things.
  • Bug causing Graphical Block artefacts on the screen has been fixed.

MINDSTORMS

  • New Linux image, updated to 1.07X to ensure compatibility with LEGO EV3 Programming Software. Please be sure to update your brick to the latest Linux firmware.
  • EV3 brick can now be renamed from both the file and the communication utilities in the Robot menu.
  • Refreshed the Driver Suite files for both NXT and EV3
  • getColorRGB() will now also work with a standard LEGO NXT Color sensor.
  • Added intrinsic getSensorConnType() to retrieve sensor connection type.
  • Fixed multi-tasking issue in EV3 VM where multi-tasking was not possible with programs started directly from the EV3 Brick.
  • Fixed a division by zero error in DatalogTest.c sample program
  • Fixed an issue where uploading a file from your EV3 to your PC removed the file extension from the uploaded file.
  • LEGO NXT Sensors that are normally auto-ID’d no longer have their autoID flag disabled for that port.
  • LEGO Energy Meter was improperly configured.
  • Fix Standard Model issue for EV3 (Gyro was improperly configured)

Happy Programming!

Written by Cara Friez

June 12th, 2015 at 5:29 pm

The Robotics Summer of Learning is Back!

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SOL Coming Soon

We are proud to announce the return of our Robotics Summer of Learning program! This summer, students have the opportunity to learn how to program robots, earn a programming certificate and badges, and play with cool software for FREE! We will provide all of the software and training materials at no cost to you or your students.  The course will consist of three modules: movement, sensing, and program flow and will be taught using the Robot Virtual World software.

The Robotics Summer of Learning starts June 15th, register here and we’ll send you a reminder when it opens up!