Archive for the ‘Robot Virtual Worlds’ Category
We continue the new section to our blog called Teacher’s POV (Point of View) with another post by Jason McKenna, a K-8 Gifted Support Teacher in the Hopewell Area School District outside of Pittsburgh, PA. He took the time to give some examples of how you can use Robot Virtual Worlds in your classroom.
Robot Virtual Worlds is a powerful tool to teach ROBOTC to students. The unofficial motto for Robot Virtual Worlds is “No Robot, no problem.” That is absolutely true. If you are just starting a robotics program, or if your budget just can’t handle the cost of physical robots, Robot Virtual Worlds is a powerful tool for teachers.
However, the use of Robot Virtual Worlds is not just limited to replacing physical robots. Even if you have dozens of physical robots at your disposal, Robot Virtual Worlds can still be a powerful addition to your curriculum. Here are some examples:
- Differentiating Instruction. One of the hardest things for a teacher to do is to teach to where each individual student currently is in the curriculum. Robot Virtual Worlds allows teachers to do this. Let’s say you have a student that 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 create a challenge for each student. Creating a challenge for a student is easy. A new challenge can always be created in the Robot Virtual World Level Builder. Additionally, if students are working in Palm Island or Operation Reset, one student can program their robot to make turns while using timing, and the student that is progressing faster can be shown how to use the Gyro Sensor. In this manner, a teacher can differentiate instruction within the SAME lesson. That is the goal for all educators, and it can be achieved easily with Robot Virtual Worlds. To use another example, let’s say a student quickly solves a basic movement challenge (ex. Robot Slalom) with a physical robot. Instead of having to wait for the rest of the class to finish, that student can use the Curriculum Companion Pack to solve the same challenge virtually. Only now, the student can use encoder values to move precise distances, instead of just timing.
- Teaching to Mastery. Because Robot Virtual Worlds allows you to teach programming concepts faster (Physical vs Virtual Programming Fall 2012 Study Results), it also affords teachers the opportunity to present more repeated practice to the students. Missions in both Operation Reset and Palm Island reinforce all of the fundamentals of programming that are found in the ROBOTC Curriculum. For instance, if a student has just learned how to line follow with their physical robot, they can then complete missions in both Operation Reset and Palm Island that also require line following.
- Introduction to New Students. As teachers, our 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 is 3 or 4 months into the ROBOTC curriculum, and your new student has no experience with ROBOTC at all. Here is where the Robot Virtual Worlds came be a lifesaver. Instead of having the student jump into whatever challenge the students are doing with physical robots, the student can watch the lessons from the ROBOTC Curriculum and complete the challenges in the Curriculum Companion Pack. After the student has begun to learn some of basics of ROBOTC, he/she can be introduced to the challenge that the rest of class is working on.
- Beginning of the School Year. When students return from summer break, some will have retained all or most of what was taught to them the previous year. Others will have retained far less. With this example, Robot Virtual Worlds can be used as a pre-assessment that can then be used to help direct that teacher’s instruction. For example, a teacher can create a challenge in the Robot Virtual World Level Builder that asks the students to utilize different programming concepts. By doing this, a teacher can see what skills need to be reviewed and what skills the students have retained. This is a tremendous time-saver. Most teachers work under the assumption that they had better review everything before moving on to a new concept. Using a pre-assessment eliminates this need. Robot Virtual Worlds are a perfect fit for this pre-assessment.
- Robot Virtual Worlds Levels Builder. This is a great tool for, once again, those unexpected occurrences in the classroom. Let’s say you you’ve been pulled into a meeting without a previous notice. A substitute has been sent to your class for coverage. You’re a little hesitant to let the students practice with the physical robots because the students are just beginning and the sub will not be able to answer any of their questions. You don’t have time to introduce a challenge in one of the Virtual Worlds; therefore, you quickly tell the students to open the Levels Builder and tell them to create challenges for each other. The students are now engaged and busy, and you can proceed to your meeting.
Those are 5 quick ways that Robot Virtual Worlds can be a big help for any teacher, not matter how many physical robot a teacher may or may not have. Robot Virtual Worlds are not just a replacement for physical robots, they are a tremendous asset in and of themselves.
Unsure what Robot Virtual Worlds is? Check out this video …
Thank you, Jason! If you are a teacher who would like to share your experiences on our blog, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We designed the RVW Model Importer so students and teachers can expand upon the learning already going on in their classrooms. We released the first version with support for importing Stereolithography format (.STL) files because these allowed models to be made using the engineering industry-standard Autodesk Inventor and Solidworks solid modeling software packages already used in many classrooms. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a universally-supported format for 3D models, so, while we hope to release support for more formats in the future, we knew we were excluding some powerful and easy to use tools.
One of these was SketchUp, an easy-to-learn 3D modeling program originally created by Google and now developed by Trimble. (We like it enough that we even made a set of introductory tutorials.) Thus, we were happy to discover there's now a plugin for SketchUp that allows models to be exported as STL files. Here's a set of instructions to get you started. These were developed using SketchUp 8, but should work as well using newer versions.
1. Make sure you are logged in on your computer as a user account with Administrator privileges.
2. If you don't already have it installed, download and install SketchUp. You can get started learning how to model either using our tutorials on CS2N or the Getting Started guide developed by Trimble.
3. Download the plugin file from https://github.com/SketchUp/sketchup-stl/raw/master/sketchup-stl-1.0.0.rbz.
4. Open SketchUp, then open the Window menu and choose Preferences, then select the Extensions page.
5. Click the Install Extension button and select the plugin file you downloaded in step 2.
6. A popup window will appear asking you to confirm that you want to install the extension. Click Yes.
7. If you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7, you may need to allow SketchUp to make changes to your system when prompted.
8. Click OK in the popup telling you the plugin has been installed. Confirm that the checkbox next to the STL Import/Export plugin is checked, then click OK to close the preferences window.
If you're looking for models to experiment, look no further than SketchUp's 3D Warehouse: open the File menu, then 3D Warehouse, and select Get Models. To export a model as an STL file in SketchUp:
1. Activate the Select tool by clicking the pointer icon on the toolbar or by opening the Tools menu and clicking Select.
2. Click on the model in the scene you want to export. A blue box will appear around it.
3. Open the File menu and choose Export STL.
4. Name the exported file and click Save.
5. A popup will appear telling you how many faces and lines have been exported. This lets you know that the export process has finished.
You now have an STL file you can use with the RVW Model Importer. Check out the Model Importer overview video for directions:
At this time, there is a limit to the complexity of models that RVW can use. If when importing you get a message that says "Mesh could not be reduced enough to be compatible with RVW," you'll have to make a simpler version.
- Ryan Cahoon
This summer students have the opportunity to learn how to program robots, design games, animate stories, and earn a chance to win over $10,000 in prizes and scholarships! The Robotics Summer of Learning program hopes to effectively increase students’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) related fields. The program is hosted online at the Computer Science Student Network.
The Summer of Learning initiative is sponsored by Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy - an educational outreach of Carnegie Mellon University and a part of the university’s world-renowned Robotics Institute. The Robotics Academy mission is to develop educational tools and resources to use the motivational effects of robotics to excite students and teachers about science and technology.
The Computer Science Student Network (CS2N) is a collaborative research project between Carnegie Mellon University (including the Robotics Academy) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) designed to increase the number of students pursuing advanced Computer Science and STEM degrees. CS2N is an online network for students and teachers to connect together and use engaging activities designed to teach how to program robots, animations, web pages, and games.
CS2N also includes tools for teachers/educators to create their own individual groups for students to join. Using the “groups” feature, teachers can track their students’ progress through every activity offered on the site. All of CS2N’s learning activities are designed to align with national educational standards.
Check out all the great features and challenges that will be offered through the Robotics Summer of Learning…
The Robotics Summer of Learning will offer students the opportunity to program a variety of robots in deep space, on a tropical island, and a VEX or FTC game board. The robots are programmed in ROBOTC, a programming language for LEGO, VEX and Arduino robots. Beginning ROBOTC users are able to utilize simple Natural Language commands like forward, reverse, and pointTurn at the introductory level and then migrate to full C-Programming to learn advanced computer science concepts like recursion, pointers, multitasking/threading, and multi-agent communications.
Students will program the virtual robots using the ROBOTC language and ROBOTC’s Robot Virtual Worlds (RVW) software, an interactive educational video game software that allows every student to experience the same benefits of learning robotics and programming. RVW tracks and stores student’s progress, through CS2N, as they solve different levels in each World. After successfully completing a World, students earn a badge that documents their achievements. At the end of the summer, students will have the opportunity to take an exam that will earn them a Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy programming certification, which can be included in the student’s academic portfolio.
Introductory programming lessons are taught in the tropical themed Palm Island, one of three virtual environments in Robot Virtual Worlds. Once students learn the basics in their first mission, they are then challenged to complete missions on Planet H99 in deep space, and underwater in the Ruins of Atlantis. The final challenge is a national robot programming competition that will include over ten thousand dollars in scholarships and prizes. Two new “programming only” robotics game have been developed specifically for the Robotics Summer of Learning programming competition, which take advantage of current VEX and FTC games in Robot Virtual Worlds. The games are played by autonomously programming your robot to place objects into scoring positions as quickly as possible.
Animation programming languages, such as Scratch and Alice, make it easy for students to create video stories, animations, games, music, and art. By using storytelling and animation as a motivator, students learn the importance of the design process while using and learning interactive programming software.
Our Robotics Summer of Learning Animation Challenge is called Nature Doc-u-mentary. This challenge asks students to write a creative narrative and make an animated documentary using either Scratch, SAM Animation, or Alice 2.0.
Designing a digital game allows students the opportunity to creatively brainstorm ideas, create 3D objects to import into the game board, learn how to program in order to test the success of the game, and challenge them to think of ways to advance and optimize the gameplay. Robot Virtual Worlds comes with two great tools, the Level Builder and the Model Importer. The Level Builder uses a 12-inch by 12-inch board and our “desktop” models to create their very own Robot Virtual World. The Model Importer allows students to import their own 3D models into Level Builder to take their game to the next level. Students can use both tools while designing their own game board for a virtual robot to successfully complete!
Our Robotics Summer of Learning Animation Challenge is called Beacons and Barriers. This challenge will have users focus on creating levels for a virtual robot to navigate through. They will use the Model Importer, included in Robot Virtual Worlds, to create objects to serve as checkpoints and obstacles.
The Robotics Summer of Learning Program is excited for the opportunity to advance students’ interests in STEM and advanced their programming skillsets! Software and training will be provided for free throughout the summer. Students will have 24/7 access to the online course materials, as well as professional support from developers of the software and curriculum. There will be over $10,000 in prizes available to participants in the challenges, including free software, robot kits, and college scholarships. The Robotics Summer of Learning kicks off on June 1 and runs to September 1, 2013.
Also offered during the summer are our Professional Development courses. These courses provide teachers and coaches with a solid foundation for robot programming in the respective languages, and experience in troubleshooting common student mistakes. It also focuses on identifying and extracting academic value from the naturally occurring STEM situations encountered in robotics explorations. Classes are available on-site or online.
In preparation for the 2013 Robotics Summer of Learning, we’ve released updates for the Palm Island (v2.1.0), Operation Reset (v3.1.0),Curriculum Companion (v2.4.0), and Level Builder (v2.0.11) Virtual Worlds!
In Palm Island, Operation Reset, and the Curriculum Companion, we’ve added two highly-requested features: Graphics Quality Control andUpdate Notifications.
Graphics Quality Control
In the Options section of each virtual world, we’ve added a new Graphics Quality setting. Choosing LOW (FASTER) will reduce the visual quality of the virtual environment, but will allow the virtual worlds to run more smoothly on older computers. MEDIUM is the default setting and is a balanced choice between quality and speed on most computers. Choosing HIGH (SLOWER) will improve the visual quality and is the most resource intensive; it is only recommended if you have a newer computer with a dedicated graphics card.
If your computer is connected to the Internet and you log in using your CS2N account in the virtual world, it will now check if there is a newer version of the virtual world available. If an update is available, a notification about the new version appears with a DOWNLOAD NOW button. Simply press it to download the latest version available!
RVW Level Builder
We also updated the RVW Level Builder! We have improved the performance of the menus and fixed an issue where line tracking tiles were getting “stuck” once they were placed. Thank you to everyone who has sent in feedback! We’ve also released a series of videos to help get started with the Level Builder:
The updates can be downloaded from the RVW Level Packs Download area at ROBOTC.net or RobotVirtualWorlds.com.
We recently added a great new feature to our Robot Virtual Worlds … the Measurement Toolkit! There is no more guessing on how far a robot needs to travel to solve programming problems. It allows for intelligent path planning and navigation. You can now have students do the math, show their work, and explain how they solved the problems.
Check out our newest video that talks about what the measurement toolkit can do in RVW!
We understand the challenges robotics classrooms face every day in terms of cost, number of robots, batteries, and homework. That is why we created Robot Virtual Worlds (RVW). With RVW, every student can experience the same benefits of learning robots, right on their computer. RVW currently simulates popular real-world VEX, LEGO, and TETRIX robots in a 3D environment; while using the same language, ROBOTC, to program both your virtual robot and your physical robot.
To help you get started and get a better understanding of what RVW can do, we are offering five FREE webinars through Google Hangout with project manager, Jesse Flot, and some members of his team! We will show you a brief tutorial on the specific topic of the day then take a few questions from the Google Hangout chat or on twitter using hashtag #RVWHangout.
Listed below are the specific dates and topics we will be covering …
Free Robot Virtual Worlds Webinars on Google Hangouts
- What is Robot Virtual Worlds?
- Overview of RVW.
- Why RVW?
- Step-by-step tutorial on getting started.
- Additional RVW Resources.
- Using the RVW Curriculum Companion.
- Free ROBOTC Curriculum, including programming challenges.
- Programming challenges, along with the curriculum robots.
- Solve one of the challenges.
- Benefits of using RVW in addition to or in place of real robots.
- Badges with RVW and on CS2N.
- Using the RVW Level Builder with Model Importer
- What is Level Builder and why we made it?
- Sample level.
- Program levels using ROBOTC.
- Share levels with another person.
- Import an object using the Model Importer and include it in the newly created level.
- Gaming Environments with the Robot Virtual Worlds
- Palm Island and Operation Reset.
- Benefits of using the game environments.
- Measurement Toolkit to find distances the robot needs to move.
- Badges with RVW and on CS2N.
- Competition Environments with the Robot Virtual Worlds
- Why do so many teams wait until the last minute to program their robots?
- Autonomous and remote control scoring in the environment.
- Multiplayer features in development.
- CS2N Programming Competition development.
We are proud to announce that Landon Woollard from Shasta High School in Redding, CA is the first student to finish the CS2N ROBOTC student certification!
Mr. Brian Grigsby teaches the 2-hour per day, 5 days per week Career Technical Education Space, Science, and Engineering class at Shasta High School. Mr. Grigsby states, “[In this class,] we combine engineering principles with the VEX system with science exploration through NASA data programs (like the Mars Exploration Student Data Teams and the Student Planetary Investigator program) to emphasize how STEM related disciplines work together in our world.” As part of the curriculum he has incorporated CS2N.org and the ROBOTC certification, along with the physical part of building and programming. Students taking the class get lab science and elective credit for the University of California A-G requirements. The class also satisfies their computer proficiency for graduation.
Mr. Grigsby and Landon were nice enough to answer some questions for us…
What ways has the ROBOTC certification program and CS2N helped you reach your teaching goals?
Mr. Grigsby: It has allowed me to have another measure of student understanding and assessment to my course. By including ROBOTC certification, I am able to know how much the students truly understand about programming and where they need extra help.
Can you explain how students have responded to CS2N and the curriculum?
Mr. Grigsby: The students had been trained in the area of building and testing physical robots, so adding CS2N into the mix gives students another outlet to experience programming. They can also design programs and test them on the virtual robots before they test it on their physical robot. If there are any problems with motors, encoders, or other parts to the robot that are causing problems with their programming, they can go to CS2N and the Robot Virtual Worlds to make sure their programming is solid. Then they can troubleshoot their physical robot, and learn how to better engineer what they have built.
What is your favorite part of ROBOTC?
Landon: My favorite part of the ROBOTC course was the creativity required. The creative freedom allowing the accomplishment of various tasks is something that isn’t found in very many classrooms today, and really made it fun and challenging.
What did you find to be the most challenging part of learning ROBOTC?
Landon: What I found to be the most difficult part in learning this language was my previous coding knowledge in Java. I frequently found myself trying to implement many Java keywords into my ROBOTC code and trying to use methods from the
Java API, which the compiler didn’t like.
What does it mean to have a ROBOTC Certification?
Landon: To me, the ROBOTC Certification means better opportunities. As a student who wishes to study computer science and software design in college, this class and certification course was an excellent opportunity to further expose myself to the coding aspects of computers. Also, having a physical documentation to show to college admissions will set me apart from every other student, hopefully increasing my chances of acceptance.
Landon’s classmate, Marisa Kuntz, was the first female to finish the certification a few weeks later. We want to congratulate Landon and Marisa, as well as Mr. Grigsby!
To find out more about the ROBOTC student certification, visit:
Note: This is one of the first schools to work through our ROBOTC certification. We are slowly rolling this out to all teachers and students, through CS2N, in the very near future. Check back for more details in the next few months!
To be more precise, this new Luau Edition of Palm Island is really a “reintroduction”. Our first version of Palm Island was released in the summer of 2011. Since that time, we’ve learned quite a bit and developed a lot of great features, so we decided to put together this major upgrade to the world.
Whether you’ve used the original version of Palm Island or this version is your first, you will appreciate just how beautiful and vibrant this world is. Take a look at this comparison picture between the two versions (more pictures below):
Of course, the changes are much more than skin deep. Players are immersed in a world where they are programmers-in-training under Commander Roxie Rivet-minder. In addition to programming their robots to traverse the boardwalk path as part of the typical training regiment, they will have to prepare for a Luau Commander Rivet-minder is throwing by setting Lobster Traps, collecting Coconut Clusters, and placing Trash Bins. Just look at some of these shots from the world:
There’s a ton of new features and functionality included in Palm Island: Luau Edition, too many to give justice to in one short blog post, so we’ll be highlighting different features in the coming days and weeks. A quick snapshot of some of these new features includes:
- A completely refreshed world with new art and immersion elements
- New side missions, a keyboard control area, and a line tracking element
- An in-game map and interface that updates as the player makes progress in the world
- A new Tutorial system that allows content to differ whether you’re using Virtual Worlds for Mindstorms or Virtual Worlds for VEX Cortex
- Two highly detailed, printable maps of the island, and a new issue of Robotics Today Magazine
- Measurement tools that allow you to quickly view the distance and angles your robot needs to move
- A new main menu to log in, quickly get to content, switch between robots, and enable/disable features in the world
Of course, the best thing that you can do is download and install Palm Island: Luau Edition from the RVW Level Packs page. Like all of our Virtual Worlds, Palm Island is completely free if you have a Robot Virtual Worlds license, and if you don’t have one you can try it for free. We would love to hear your thoughts about Palm Island! Please share them on our Facebook page, here on the blog, or the ROBOTC.net forums.