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!
Do you have a story to share about implementing STEM into your classroom, a cool project you did with your students/team, or advice about teaching robotics? If so, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and be a guest blogger for us. We would love to share your stories on our blog!
The end of the school year is here and to celebrate, we’d love to showcase some of the ROBOTC projects and code you’ve been working on all year long! If you have a cool project (like these!) send us an email at email@example.com with a description and your code, pictures, and/or videos. We’ll share it on our blog in an upcoming post!
Branden Hazlet, Director of Technology for Maui Prep, shares with us his team’s experience at the 2015 VEX Worlds Championship in Louisville, KY!
It was a wonderful learning and exploring experience for our Maui students to participate with students from 29 countries in the VEX World robotics championships. Seeing hard working students from so many cultures coming together to cooperate in using intriguing technology was something wonderful. The student teams from across the world clearly felt honored to participate in such a massive gathering of clever young minds, an unparalleled gathering of student intellect in a massive 1.2 million square foot facility. That is roughly 200 football fields worth of great learning happening at the same time. As a culture, we honor the hard work of athletic teams with fanfare regularly, but it is something too rare that we honor our bright young minds in such a way that reflects their importance for leading the future. The Vex World Championships uses an intriguing model sometimes called coop-ertition — meaning that in every event there is a premium put on working with alliance teams. There is little chance of success in these events without a high degree teamwork within your own team, but of equal importance is cooperation across many partnerships with other teams. It is a model that ensures our students’ robotics experience is about more than robots…it is about working with other students. Beyond the coop-ertition of live robotics matches, teams must present an Engineering justification which documents their robotics build through multimedia and writing as well as through an oral presentation of student’s design thinking / structural reasoning. Then there is also an Autonomous robotics element where an emphasis is put on programming skills by doubling point awards for scoring that can be completed entirely by the robot running pre-coded programs with the use of sensors for direction, distance, light color, etc. Through all these elements, balancing the the human interactions with the technical knowledge, a model of education emerges that brings out the whole package of real world skills our students need to thrive in a changing world. And the best part…the students are just having a great time through it all…
Our students spent a great week immersed in dynamic teamwork, creative challenges, technical puzzles, multicultural communication, planning and practicing strategies with alliance teams, rapid-fire as well as big-picture time management, resource management, interpersonal diplomacy, recovery from setbacks, getting right back to work after successes, identifying and depending on each other’s strengths, helping balance each other’s needs, constantly practicing, improvising, analyzing, prototyping, redesigning, finding consensus, stepping back from disagreement, stepping forward together …. Intense learning was going on across so many levels. The atmosphere of competition, total stimulation, constantly shifting team alliances and language challenges for communication all really put the emotional maturity expected of middle school students to the test…and it was satisfying to see we had given our Maui students the skills to rise to those challenges. We had matches with several teams from South America and Asia where the other teams spoke only a few words of English at best, some none at all. Between our students and the international students the teams managed to communicate their robot strengths, assess each other’s abilities then formulate a specific plan for making highly coordinated moves while continually giving each other feedback on positioning and making adjustments to the plan throughout the match. Thinking and communication skills that have been developed in years of parenting and education were called on for our students’ efforts. Thanks to all who have shaped these kids over the years. They have so much potential and such bright futures.
Here is a quote from the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, which puts on the World Championships: “These students spent countless hours designing, building, programming and testing their robots over the course of the season at more than 1,000 local, state, and regional competitions (with participation from over 12,000 teams worldwide),” said Jason Morrella, President of the REC Foundation. “The truth is that all of these students leave the competition as winners. The teamwork and problem-solving skills they take away from this experience will successfully prepare them for future careers in STEM fields and serve them throughout their lives.”
For middle school students, beyond the STEM skills of technical and strategic optimization for competition, the ‘learning’ certainly extended to self-discipline and maturity dynamics…Staying focused, managing emotions, following through on directions/plans and keeping a positive tone in talking to each other despite stress were things the students became more aware of working on. As a middle school team the juggling of information streams, technical info along with the social processing and attentional demands despite so much stimulation are key parts of their developmental growth. These students certainly stepped their game up and grew through the experience. I think they have come back from this experience with a bit more capacity for directing their attention and managing themselves in a big pond; it is fair to say we have high expectations to push ourselves to new levels.
For me, there were some super colleagues and coaches to watch in action and make connections with. Amazing high school and university teams for inspiration….as well as some middle school teams that were setting high water marks that expanded what I thought was possible for 12-14 year olds.
Out of the thousands of teams that competed this season, only 105 teams qualified for the VexIQ World Championship event. Maui Prep’s students worked hard to be among those teams and our iPueo’s final rankings, after a roller coaster of some early nerves, hitting stride mid-competition, then some hard fought last rounds where we earned both our lowest to our highest scores in the final two matches, gave us the following rankings:
Programming Skills / Autonomous – 21st in World Championships
Robotic Operations / Driver Skills – 21st in World Championships
Robot Team Work Skills – 33rd in World Championships
…Our goal was to take Maui Prep into the ranking of the top 30 middle schools in the world, so we hit the mark in two judged competitions, but missed by a small margin in the third category.
Beyond the rankings, our students from this little tropical island gained huge experience in competing at the world level, interacting on a technical and human level with many cultures, and working as a cooperative team with well known classmates as well as strangers. I think it is safe to say these students return to Maui as more mature young people with broader perspectives of than when they left two weeks ago.
I am proud of their effort, proud of their growth, proud of their accomplishment and proud of their potential as we look to take these 6th and 7th graders into next year’s season as 7th and 8th graders. One of the event highlights was the announcement of the new 2016 robotics challenge, along with new hardware and software releases which got the team pumped and creatively talking about next year’s robot design.
To have a little school from the pineapple fields of Maui competing with the world’s best in robotics was a great feeling of genuinely helping our kids prepare for dynamic futures in this changing economy where both intercultural and technical skills are required. Our students and school have definitely grown through this experience of participation in our first World Championship.
Our on-site (in Pittsburgh, PA) and online Summer Professional Development classes for VEX CORTEX, VEX IQ, and LEGO MINDSTORMS are filling up quickly. Register todayto make sure you get into your preferred course (listed below!)
Acquire new skills with technology and new ways to teach STEM with robotics using innovative pedagogy!
No Prior Experience with Robotics or Programming required!
Hands-On Experience with 36 Contact Hours!
Learn directly from the curriculum and technology developers!
Here’s What People Are Saying After Our Trainings:
“You guys were fantastic! This was some of the most enjoyable and informative professional development I’ve ever attended. The instructor was incredibly knowledgeable and always willing to offer help when needed. I would recommend the Robotics Academy to any teacher that is wanting to get into robotics education.”
“I thought that just about every aspect of the sessions was valuable. As a person coming in with an almost zero knowledge base, I left feeling I had a strong sense of how things work and how I can immediately implement things in my classroom.”
“Instructors were great … this stands as one of the most enjoyable workshops/courses I have taken in a VERY long time. I learned a lot, I had a good time, I was challenged … what course could hope for a better outcome than this.”
My name is Ringo Dingrando and I teach Robotics and Physics at International School Manila in the Philippines. For the past three years, high school students have been inquiring into how to program using ROBOTC and how to use their programming skills to build robots, often with VEX hardware. In the classroom, most of my students learn the basics through some great online tutorial videos and by teaching each other. They can then try their code out on virtual robots by using Robot Virtual Worlds software. This code is then modified and put onto a physical robot that they build themselves.
Students were enthralled to see the 3D printer in action.
This has led to quick progress in the classroom, but it is in our after-school Robotics Club where the benefits of this are becoming more visible. Students in the club needed a venue to showcase their creative robots, and so we developed Robolution. This is a daylong event in which ISM students in elementary, middle, and high school are given the opportunity to showcase the creations they have been working on in the previous month.
We recently completed our second annual Robolution and the results were spectacular. Some of the highlights included a life-size robot arm controlled in “Iron Man” style, an air-powered pong game, and a ping-pong launching device. (Check out the video links!) Design Tech students were wowing the audience by demonstrating the capabilities of one of our 3D printers. Students in the middle school robotics program showed off their Lego Mindstorm robots with highlights such as a Rubik’s Cube solver, a spinner factory, and a stair-climber. Elementary school students taught letters and numbers via Bee Bots and showcased their programming prowess through interactive Scratch games.
Students were encouraged to interact with most exhibits.
This robot could print messages onto paper.
Elementary students use Bee Bots to teach letters.
The carrot chimes are connected to a Makey-Makey.
Robolution was a fantastic learning experience because it promoted programming, design thinking, and creativity. Almost a thousand people in the ISM community were exposed to the awesomeness of robotics. I fully expect that a year from now I’ll be sharing even more amazing results from our 3rd Annual Robolution.
The competitions for this year are both extremely exciting; teams will actually need to shoot balls into goals. The purpose of these virtual environments is to provide teams with an environment that allows for some strategic planning, and to act as a platform to start programming with the same kinds of motors and sensors that are available in the real world. To that end, we’ve added exciting new “Launchbots” that are capable of shooting balls across the field and are fully programmable with a full array of motors and sensors. One feature we’re really excited about is the “trajectory line”, which shows exactly where your shot will go based on the robots angle and motor power! Game scoring, timing, pre-loads, match loads, climbing, and other elements are all implemented, too.
Launchbot shooting a ball into the red net:
Check out our video of the VEX Robotics Competition – Nothing But Net RVW in action:
Launchbot IQ aiming a shot into the common goal:
And here is footage from the VEX IQ Challenge – Bank Shot RVW:
In technology class groups of students learn about robotic systems and mechanics by building and remotely controlling a VEX Clawbot. In computer class students program the VEX Cortex Clawbot in a virtual, immersive environment using Robot Virtual Worlds software and through coursework provided by Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy’s CS2N Moodle-based learning management system. By combining their knowledge and skills in groups, students will ultimately compete using autonomous and remote-control programming in a class competition called, “Tic Tech Toe”.
Julia, 8th grade middle school student
I attend Palisades Middle School and am in the 8th grade. I love how both our computer and technology class are combined. Being brand new to the whole experience of robotics, finding new ways to use technology educationally is something that really intrigues me. Currently I am in computer class and cannot compare it to anything else. Overall, the atmosphere and supportive people make this experience fun and worthwhile. It has introduced me to concepts that I didn’t even know were possible and are very educational. For example, I have recently learned to use a very cool program called ROBOTC. Basically, ROBOTC is a program which allows you to give your robot “tasks”. In my computer class we have been doing this quite a bit and I just love everything about it. Its a new and educational way for students to learn programming. My learning this at a young age really builds success for the future.
Lydia, 8th grade middle school student
Student-Created Simulated Field Created in RVW Level Builder
Our technology and computer classes joined together while working on robotics. I really enjoyed being able to create and program robots. In our tech class each student was assigned a partner to build a robot and race it in a competition against fellow classmates. Our computer class involved robotic programming.We learned how to compile and download programs to a virtual robot and complete different challenges. This program was so much fun and I really enjoyed how we got to experience both “hands-on” and “hands-off” learning.
Making Robotics Real for Students
There is a real advantage in learning how to program in a virtual environment. Most programming courses offer 2-dimensional “Hello World” feedback. Robot Virtual Worlds gives students immediate 3-D feedback and opens their eyes to real-world programming applications. We have been pleasantly surprised with how students respond with interest to learning how to program when it’s presented in this context.
Robot Virtual Worlds also offers an engaging method of project-oriented learning involving challenges. Students don’t just program the robot to move, they learn what it would be like to manipulate a robot through various simulated environments. These environments called “worlds” could be a space mission, tropical island, or could even be student-designed obstacle field. These worlds have been effective in stimulating interest and maintaining learner engagement.
In addition to the classroom experience, our first semester students also visited a local robotics company and learned first-hand how their robotics experiences have real-world relevance. Students were given the opportunity to see actual robots in development and other related technologies. This visit got the student’s attention, providing them with a better understanding of potential opportunities in engineering and programming.
We are anxious to continue this collaborative program. There was an initial investment in training, software, and hardware, but we feel that the return for the students is well worth it. In sharing our classes and resources, students are learning about information and machine technology in a unique way. We hope that this transfers over into their continuing studies and even future careers.
The VEX IQ Virtual Challenge is part of an ongoing research project by Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy and the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center designed to assist robotics teams learning to program.
Participating students will learn programming that enables them to solve this year’s VEX IQ Virtual Highrise Challenge. As they learn they will also earn an Introduction to Robotics and Programming Certification.
Robomatter is pleased to be working closely with the Robotics Academyto create high quality STEM learning experiences, and has agreed to provide access to all related materials FOR FREE to celebrate National Robotics Week!