Archive for the ‘Robot Virtual Worlds’ Category
A curriculum pacing guide is something that teachers have to consider whenever they examine their curriculum. This fact does not escape teachers of <a href=”http://www.robotc.net”>ROBOTC</a>. Whenever I come across teachers who are just starting to use the ROBOTC curriculum, often their first question revolves around how long the curriculum will take. Once again, teachers are used to having some type of pacing guide that delineates how a subject is to be taught. The ROBOTC curriculum is not organized in that fashion. Instead, the curriculum is organized by topic. The topics include basic programming fundamentals, robot movement, robot sensing, etc. The teacher is then free to spend an appropriate amount of time within each topic.
As teachers, this freedom is welcome. It is welcome because the pacing that comes with most textbooks is an impossible guide to follow. In order to create a true pacing guide, student background knowledge would have to be taken into account. Since every classroom is different (sometimes within the same grade, within the same school), it is impossible to gauge how quickly the students are going to master the concepts as they are presented. Additionally, as the teacher becomes more familiar with ROBOTC, they will find that they spend more time on particular concepts then they did the first time they taught the curriculum. For example, when I first taught ROBOTC, I spent 20 minutes discussing Flowcharts and Pseudocode. Experience has now taught me to spend a significant amount of time on these topics. I also spend much more time talking about Errors. Specifically, what should a student do when they get the dreaded compiler errors in their program? Experience has taught me to spend much more time on thinking about the logic of a program before the writing of ROBOTC and on debugging strategies once the code has been written.
Each of the aforementioned sections of the ROBOTC curriculum contains a programming challenge. The programming challenged is designed to showcase the skills that were emphasized in that section. Each section also contains an assortment of “mini challenges”. These challenges can be used at the teacher’s discretion. They all do not have to be completed. However, they can be very useful. For example, after the students have spent a day or two learning a topic, I will begin the following class with one of these mini challenges. They might not know all of the skills needed to complete the section challenge, but the mini challenge is a good assessment of what has been presented so far in that section. This also serves as a good change of pace for the class. Simply, you can’t learn to program without actually programming. In order to really understand the applications of while loops or if/else statements, students need to apply them. The mini challenges found within the ROBOTC curriculum serve as a great opportunity to scaffold skills toward their more challenging applications.
A beginning teacher of ROBOTC could teach the basic ROBOTC curriculum in one semester. By including many of the mini challenges, the curriculum can be stretched easily over a semester. I often tell teachers who are teaching the class for a year to do this, and then to end the year with a larger programming challenge. After the students have made it through the ROBOTC curriculum, I enjoy introducing them to Multi-Robot Communication. The sensor needed (NXTBee) is inexpensive, and there are a lot of great ideas for activities and programming challenges.
If you have a stronger background in computer science, and maybe you are teaching older students, you may be able to navigate through the curriculum much faster. What then do you do with students if you have them for an entire year? Luckily, there are many great ROBOTC projects on robotc.net. Moreover, the ROBOTC forum is also a wonderful place to look for ideas for projects, in-class competitions, and programming challenges.
Teaching robotics and ROBOTC is a lot of fun. The ability to watch your students apply what they learn in the ROBOTC curriculum in such engaging and open-ended activities is one of the main reasons why.
Once the physical hardware (robotics kits) are secured for a classroom, the next step is to install the software (ROBOTC and Robot Virtual Worlds). It would be nearly impossible to cover every single specific setup that could be encountered on a classroom’s computers, but this blog post will cover the basic installation steps and some of the more common installation issues that educators may run into when installing ROBOTC in a classroom.
The first thing you will need to do is install ROBOTC on the computers in your classroom. To do this, always make sure to grab the latest version of ROBOTC that your license supports from the correct ROBOTC download page. If the wrong version is downloaded and installed, or if there is already a different up-to-date version of ROBOTC installed on the computers, you will not need to uninstall and reinstall the program; instead, you will simply need to activate your license in ROBOTC (more on this later). During the download process, ROBOTC will also attempt to install the necessary drivers for communications with physical robots. Depending on the level of security on the computers, you may need to get your IT department involved in order to ensure that the drivers are installed properly.
Once ROBOTC and the appropriate drivers have been installed, you will need to activate ROBOTC on each computer manually. The license activation ‘unlocks’ the ability to download code to either a physical robot or a Virtual World, depending on which license is used. When ROBOTC is installed on a computer, all versions of ROBOTC (including different robotics platforms, such as the VEX and LEGO platforms, and different compiler options, such as Virtual Worlds compiler options) are installed at the same time. Instead of installing additional copies of the software on the same computer (or opening a new program every time you would like to change the compiler target), the additional platforms and compiler options are ‘unlocked’ by activating their respective keys.
Before we move on to the next blog (Setting up the Robots), here a couple more tips that may come in handy when setting up ROBOTC in a classroom:
- Depending on the programs, policies, and restrictions in place on the machines, your school’s IT department may need to be present for the installation or activation of ROBOTC, Virtual Worlds, or the installation of any drivers for the physical robots.
- If your school’s IT department images and deploys the classroom’s computers, make sure they reference the ROBOTC Deployment Guide on the ROBOTC wiki for important help and information.
- Make sure to check the computers’ hardware to the minimum requirements for ROBOTC or Robot Virtual Worlds before
- Always test one computer first! If there is a problem with the installation, it is better to find out about it early and fix it before they same issue appears on a classroom full of computers.
- John Watson
It is that time of year again … backpacks on our backs, buses on the streets, and lessons being planned. Yes, we are going back to school! To kick start the school year, we are introducing a six week robotics back to school blog series that highlights the technical and pedagogical side of planning for your robotics classroom. John Watson, from ROBOTC customer support, and Jason McKenna, a K-8 Gifted Support Teacher in the Hopewell Area School District outside of Pittsburgh, PA, will be sharing with you tips, tricks, advice, and recommendations on prepping your robotics classroom and curriculum.
As each blog is posted, the topics below will turn into hyperlinks, so feel free to bookmark this page!
- Organizing a Robotics Classroom
- Which Robotics Kit Should I Use? LEGO EDITION — VEX EDITION
- Reviewing ROBOTC Concepts After a Summer Off
- Setting up ROBOTC and RVW for the Classroom
- Robotics Curriculum Breakdown
- Setting Up Robots: LEGO EDITION — VEX EDITION
- Differentiated Instructions
- Troubleshooting Common Issues in ROBOTC and RVW
- Handling Common Teaching Issues
- Advanced ROBOTC and Robotics
- Assessment and Extension Activities
If you have any questions or would like to start a conversation on any of the topics, feel free to leave us a comment below!
The robot marathon has started! As the large autonomous vehicle drives down the empty street, it decides when and where to turn. The bot navigates through the streets, using the dashed lines as guides. There are a lot of potential wrong turns that it avoids as it rolls by houses and picnic tables. Eventually, it drives under the banner at the finish line much to the programmer’s delight.
Did this happen in your town? Maybe! In fact it might be happening in your town right now because it’s not a physical robot – but a virtual robot driving through a virtual town!
This is a game level created by Robotics Academy high school intern, Eddie, for the Beacons and Barriers level design competition. Eddie used Autodesk Inventor to create some of the models and imported them into the Robot Virtual Worlds Level Builder.
The competition asks participants to create a level for RVW Level Builder, including Checkpoints and obstacles, through which players will navigate a robot. In addition, participants must write instructions for the level.
How He Created the Level
Eddie used the design process discussed in the Computer Science Student Network’s (CS2N) course for level design called Create Your Own Level with RVW Level Builder.
This process starts with brainstorming and research. He jotted his notes on a piece of paper. You’ll notice in the image that the drawings are not perfect, that some things were crossed out. That’s perfectly fine – in fact – that’s what you want to do.
The process of jotting your ideas on paper allows you to see ideas. If they aren’t good or they won’t work like you thought they might, then you can modify them or come up with ones that will work. Notice how Eddie crossed out the first drawing with the curved road? He realized that roads might be easier to construct if they were straight.
Eddie then mapped out his level – showing the start tile, finish tile, checkpoints, and obstacles (in this case: grass). He then drew how the tiles should look. Afterward, he modeled the tiles using Autodesk Inventor. The Inventor Tutorials course on CS2N was helpful in showing him, step by step, how to create an object, export it and then import it into RVW Level Builder.
Once he made his level, Eddie tested it and wrote down ideas for ways to test it. He then gave the level to a peer to test. The test results proved that the level worked well and wasn’t too hard.
For the last phase, Eddie wrote the instructions for the level, zipped the level and the instructions into the same folder and submitted it to the competition.
How You Can Create Your Own Level
This was Eddie’s first time using the RVW Level Builder and he has had limited experience using Autodesk Inventor. He learned how to use these programs by enrolling in free courses at www.cs2n.org. You can too! And since they are online, you can learn at your own pace
Check out the courses:
Introduction to Inventor – Learn the basics of Inventor.
Create Your Own Level with RVW Level Builder – From ideation to product release, learn how to create levels using the RVW Level Builder.
Inventor Tutorials – Step by step instructions on creating an object in inventor and importing it into RVW Level Builder.
Once your level is complete, upload it to one of our level design competitions on CS2N.
We are happy to announce a new course on CS2N, Create Your Own Level with RVW Level Builder. In this new course, you will go through the steps of making your own custom level inRobot Virtual Worlds‘ Level Builder!
The class is structured on a 5-phase version of the engineering process (Concept, Design, Production, Testing, Release). In each phase, you will take a further step towards completing your level, either through planning, creating, or testing your level.
Level Builder enables users to easily create levels and challenges for others to solve. Teachers can create custom challenges for their classrooms or generate unique challenges for each student. Multiple real and fantasy themed robots and objects are available for use. You can also import your own objects with the 3D Model Importer. Your level plays like any other virtual world. You can access all of the motors and sensors on the virtual robot to solve the challenge using ROBOTC code.
Sign up for CS2N and this FREE course today - Create Your Own Level with RVW Level Builder. And don’t forget we have a Level Builder competition going on until August 31, 2013, Beacons and Barriers, with a chance to win some great prizes!!
We are happy to announce that the leaderboards for the Robotics Summer of Learning competitions are live! Each leaderboard shows the overall scores as well as the leaders in each division. The results are real-time, so check back often to see where you stand. The competitions run until August 31, 2013.
VEX Toss Up
- Middle School Division - 6th to 8th Grade (for the 2013-2014 School Year)
- High School Division - 9th to 12th Grade (for the 2013-2014 School Year)
- Open Division - Teachers, Mentors, Coaches, Educators, Hobbyists, Everyone!
The official rules are listed on the official Robotics Summer of Learning page.
We’ve featured a couple of robotics students the last few weeks, but this week we showcase a robotics teacher who uses ROBOTC and Robot Virtual Worlds in the classroom. Check out Jeff Maxwell’s interview on why and how he uses Robot Virtual Worlds with his students …
Happy Friday! I thought it might be nice to end the week with a little sneak preview into our newest Robot Virtual World game, “Expedition Atlantis: A Calculated Deep Sea Adventure.” We are still working on it, so things might change, but wanted to share an inside look. The game and curriculum will be available this Fall. Check back for more info soon!
Every student who completes a ROBOTC Summer of Learning course will have the opportunity to take a ROBOTC Student Certification Exam! This certificate will represent a student’s programming and robot problem solving accomplishments.
Throughout the course, the student will earn badges as they successfully complete challenges. Each badge contains information to help others understand what a student knows: who awarded it, who recognizes it, when they earned it, links to example student code, their videos, their scores, the types of questions they answered, or other information designed to show off their accomplishments.
At the very end of the course, students will have the opportunity to take an exam. This certification exam will consist of 125 questions to be completed in 100 minutes. Students will need to earn a score of 70% or higher in order to earn the certification.
Every student enrolled in one of our Robotics Summer of Learning class will have the option of taking the ROBOTC for LEGO or the ROBOTC for VEX student certification exam. Sign up for a class today:
And don’t forget about our free ROBOTC live training, starting Monday, June 17th:
Starting Monday, June 17th, our free online classes will begin for the Robotics Summer of Learning. The ROBOTC team will show you the best ways to get started using ROBOTC and answer your questions LIVE! The goals for these classes is to support you, our users, and help you earn a ROBOTC certification!
The classes and Q&A sessions will take place throughout the summer on WebEx at the times listed below. The length of the class will be based on how many questions we need to answer.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays at 11:00am EDT
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays at 12:00pm EDT
**Classes will be recorded and posted online after each session.**
How to Sign Up:
1. Register for Summer of Learning - Choose one of the following Robotics Summer of Learning Courses and sign up!
2. Choose a WebEx Course - Join your choice of WebEx courses 30 minutes before scheduled course begins:
If you would like to ask questions during the live class, make sure to have a USB headset. You can also submit your questions before and during each class through the ROBOTC forum or our social media sites.