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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

ROBOTC 4.50 for VEX Robotics Available Today!!

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ROBOTC 4-50 VEX

The ROBOTC Development Team is very excited to announce our latest update, ROBOTC 4.50. 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 4.50!

Important Setup Information for ROBOTC 4.50:

VEX IQ Users:

  • Run the “VEX IQ Firmware Update Utility” and update your VEX IQ Brain to firmware version 1.15.
  • Also update your VEX IQ Wireless Controller and any other VEX IQ Devices (sensors, motors).
  • After updating to the latest VEX IQ Brain firmware, 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, you will also have to update the VEX Cortex with the latest ROBOTC firmware.

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, you will also have to update the VEX Cortex with the latest ROBOTC firmware.

ROBOTC 4.32 —> 4.50 Change Log:

General new features:

  • Graphical blocks can now be copied, cut and pasted

Copy Paste

  • Graphical actions, such as adding, deleting and moving a blocks, changing parameters and their values can be undone and redone.
  • The Graphical repeat and while blocks values can now be adjusted without a keyboard using spin buttons.

Number Scroll
Color Loop
VEX new features:

  • Added support for the new VEX IQ Smart Radio in ROBOTC Firmware (for use with iOS applications)
  • Added Smart Radio based User Messaging system (for use with iOS applications)

General fixes:

  • Large amounts of data in debug stream no longer causes debugger to hang.
  • Fixed issue when mixing PLTW building licenses with other license types.
  • When changing the motor type in the Motor and Sensor Setup utility, the additional parameters, such as PID, drive side, encoder type, are reset to their default values.
  • UAC prompt now appear only once for installing multiple RVW packages.

RVW Package Manager

  • The toolbar buttons are sized to the individual content, instead of the largest one.
  • Recursive pre-compiler statements are correctly identified and no longer crash the IDE.
  • The Graphical block library’s expansion/collapse state is now preserved when switching between files.
  • LineTrackLeft help text has been corrected.
  • Fixed issue of undefined entries in text libraries.
  • Hover over text for NL text commands no longer has artifacts.
  • Building licenses now check and update their local status whenever an active internet connection is available.
  • Fixed issue with the Advanced RBC file saving adding an additional “rbc” to the file name.
  • Opening RBC/RBG files with “download on open” no longer prompts for save and add a “00#” to the end of the file name.
  • Fixed issue where the “Advanced save as macro” feature did not load RVW options correctly.
  • Joystick issue with Graphical and Natural Language fixed;’ waitUntil(), displayButtonValues() and displayControllerValues() now function correctly.

VEX bug fixes:

  • Fixed issue where IQ Graphical playSound() block dropdown displayed internal values.
  • VEX IQ displayButtonValues does not display correct value in RVW.

Happy Programming!

Written by Cara Friez

August 27th, 2015 at 8:16 pm

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

Cool Project: VEX IQ Motorized Skateboard

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Burf SkateboardSimon Burfield (a.k.a. Burf …an amazing nickname!) designed and programmed a VEX IQ Motorized Skateboard! This VEX IQ skateboard uses  2 VEXIQ brains / batteries, and 16 motors connected to 8 omnidirectional wheels. It is also programmed in ROBOTC!

 
 
 
 
 
 


 
Check out Burf’s website here for more cool project!

Do you have a cool project you’d like to share? If so, send us an email at socialmedia@robotc.net.

Written by Cara Friez

August 13th, 2015 at 7:15 am

Robomatter SnapCAD Video Tutorials

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SnapCADVEX Robotics recently released a brand new, free software called, SnapCAD, which is a community-built solution for designing virtual VEX IQ models. SnapCAD is a great option to test out a novel idea in the virtual world before building it physically, or to share your creations with the world in the form of step-by-step build instructions!

We at Robomatter want to help you get started with an introductory set of tutorials videos! The videos cover the workspace configuration, creating a new model and adding parts. VEX has included pre-build models of all four VEX IQ Starter Kit robots, so we walk you through where they are and how to include them. The final three videos touch on part selection, positioning, rotation, and what the grid does.

 

Download SnapCAD for free here! Then check out our tutorial playlist below or on our YouTube channel.

And don’t forget about the VEX IQ Summer Build Contest where you could win a $250 promo code to use in the VEX IQ store!

Written by Cara Friez

July 9th, 2015 at 6:45 am

ROBOTC and Science Week in China

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IMG_3433In China, there’s a week dedicated to science and our China ROBOTC team was there to participate in the big event! “Science Week” is an annual nationwide event where students are encouraged to attend their area science and technology center to feel and see the latest development and innovation of the technical world.

“Beijing Science Week” is the largest exhibition in China. By winning the 2015 VEX World Champion title in VEX IQ programing challenge, China ROBOTC team was the only robotic educational institution invited to showcase the VEX IQ robot and Maker idea with the powerful ROBOTC programming software.

As honorable guest of the event,  Professor Kim Hyatt and Labash from CMU visited China ROBOTC booth and joined the award ceremony of Beijing Science Week in China.

As honorable guest of the event, Professor Kim Hyatt and Labash from CMU visited China ROBOTC booth and joined the award ceremony of Beijing Science Week in China.

At the closing event, China ROBOTC VEX IQ was awarded with the most popular demo by the crowd and Terry Sy, director of China ROBOTC, was awarded with Science Week Event Ambassador. Congrats to everyone involved!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Cara Friez

July 7th, 2015 at 9:56 am

iCarnegie Merges with Robomatter

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logos_full_color

iCarnegie and Robomatter, two STEM Education solution providers, founded by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, have merged to form a global Computer Science and STEM education solutions company. The mission of the new company is to make research-based STEM educational solutions accessible to every global classroom. The company’s vision is for all students to be technologically literate and computationally proficient as innovators competing in a global emerging economy.

workingTogetheriCarnegie and Robomatter have been partners in developing STEM education solutions for over 4 years, and the combined organization creates a uniquely differentiated company to meet the growing, global demand for high quality STEM education products. Our products will be a combination of our unique brands and attention to quality STEM teaching methods, rigorous curricula, certification, and educational technology to drive change in the globalized STEM classroom. Our classroom programs provide educators and students with a range of resources to accelerate STEM learning–from programmable technology, robot activity and virtual environments to pedagogic methodology, assessment tools and certification programs.

Click here to read more about this merger and the future goals of our new company here!

Written by Cara Friez

July 1st, 2015 at 12:01 pm

VEX CORTEX Trainer: Integrated Encoders Chapter Now Available!

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VEX Cortex Trainer We are excited to share our latest chapter available within out VEX CORTEX Video Trainer CurriculumIntegrated Encoders! Located in the Movement section, this chapter will allow you to increase movement accuracy and automatic movement corrections.

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

  • Introduction to the Integrated Motor Encoder as an alternative to Rotary Encoder.
  • How to use encoders to monitor movement.
  • How to use encoders to make more accurate robot movements (Straight line/ turn/ etc…)
  • How to enable PID speed control to enforce a consistent movement speed.
  • How to more accurately move the robot a certain distance.

 

Integrated Encoder Chapter

 

Check out one of the chapter videos here:


 
End Challenges
At the end, there are two programming challenges, Basketball Drills and Sentry Simulations, that can be completed with either a physical or virtual robot.

Check out the entire curriculum here!
 
 
 
 
 

Written by Cara Friez

June 23rd, 2015 at 10:39 am