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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

Download ROBOTC for LEGO MINDSTORMS 4.50 Today!

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ROBOTC 4-50 LEGO

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

 

Important Setup Information for ROBOTC 4.50:

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 4.32 —> 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
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.

MINDSTORMS fixes:

  • Disconnecting an EV3, with the debugger running, no longer causes the IDE to hang.
  • Missing sensor commands have been added to the EV3 text library.
  • Fixed issue of incorrect NXT sensor variables when dragged into program from the text library
  • Fixed mistakes in examples for the help documentation of the EV3 motor commands.
  • EV3 standard models and sample code have been updated with the default mode for the Gyro set to Rate and Angle and the Color sensor mode set to Color.
  • Corrected issue where nPgmTime was erroneously identified as a signed long in the help.
  • Added numerics to Color name values in help documentation.
  • Wireless Searching for NXT in EV3 context has been removed.
  • Fixed issue where the return value of getColorName() opcode expected a long, but the TLegoColors is a byte, this could cause memory corruption.

Happy Programming!

Written by Cara Friez

August 27th, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Cool Project: LEGO EV3 Sorter Machine

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CH Chen created a cool project and shared it with us! This LEGO EV3 Sorter machine is able to detect the color of Lego Technic beams and then add it to the appropriate slot of the three colors.

 

 

BrickSorter_Mechanism

 

 

Click here to see the code! And check out CH Chen’s blog with even more of his projects.

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

July 22nd, 2015 at 7:00 am

CMU’s Robotics Academy Fall 2015 Online LEGO Training Schedule!

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Teacher_LEGO 2Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy has announced their Fall ROBOTC online LEGO training schedule, which starts in September! The Robotics Academy is a world leader in robotics education and trains teacher internationally. Enjoy the convenience of taking courses without leaving your own computer workstation.

Robotics Academy online training includes:

  • Online access to supplemental lessons from Robotics Academy materials
  • Technical support for all hardware and software used in the class
  • 24/7 access to class management system, forums, and message boards (monitored daily)
  • Opportunities for Continuing Education credits and certificate of completion

ROBOTC Online Training for LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3
Sept 24 – Oct 29, 2015
Thursdays for 6 weeks
6 – 8pm EST (3 – 5pm PST))

 

 

Register Today!

 

Written by Cara Friez

June 30th, 2015 at 6:35 am

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!

LEGO Users: Program Virtual Robots Without Downloading Anything New!

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Have You Explored New Worlds with ROBOTC?

ROBOTC has provided you with many challenges and learning opportunities, but did you know you can explore exciting new virtual worlds without downloading anything new? Try out Robot Virtual Worlds for FREE in ROBOTC with a 10-day trial!

See the instructions to get started at the bottom of this email!

What are Robot Virtual Worlds?

Robot Virtual Worlds are high-end simulation environments that enables users, without robots, to learn programming with game and competition worlds. Watch our video for more information!

Game Worlds!

Escape to one of our fantastic game worlds where you can use your programming skills to explore and complete challenges!

Ruins of Atlantis

We thought Atlantis was a myth. We were wrong. Your mission is to explore the Ruins of Atlantis, 6,000 meters below the surface of the ocean, collecting data and treasure as you do.

Palm Island Luau Edition

Visit the beautiful Palm Island and program your robot to drive along its boardwalk path. Collect coconut clusters and set lobster traps for the Luau.

Operation Reset

The mining colony of Alpha Base H99 needs your help! A terrible storm has damaged the colony’s equipment and we need you to use your programming skills to complete the mission.

Virtual Challenges!

Practice your programming skills with virtual versions of popular robotic competitions or challenging obstacle courses.

Curriculum Companion

Practice valuable programming concepts with a variety of activities using the curriculum companion. Use the same ROBOTC code to program your real and virtual robots!

Level Builder

The RVW Level Builder provides a 12’x12′ square field to build on and several objects – from cans and boxes to line tracking tiles – that you can use to design challenging, unique, and fun levels!

Measurement Toolkit

Not sure how far to make your robot move? Use the virtual measurement tools to calculate the distance and angles needed to move around in the virtual worlds!

Getting Started

Starting your Virtual Worlds trial:

1.  Open ROBOTC (from the icon on your desktop or Start Menu).

2.  Click “Help”
in the menu and select “Manage Licenses”.

3.  Click “Add License” in the menu and select “Robot Virtual Worlds – LEGO” from the Product drop-down.


4.
  Click “Start Trial”.

5.  Click “Close”.


Using Virtual Worlds:

1.  Click “Robot” in the menu and set the “Compiler Target” to “Virtual Worlds”.

2.  Click “Window” in the menu and set “Select a Virtual World to Use” to any of the virtual worlds installed.

Visit robotvirtualworlds.com to explore and download more levels!

If you need to go back to programming your physical robot, select “Physical Robot” from the “Compiler Target” menu.

 

Written by Cara Friez

June 9th, 2015 at 9:41 am

Summer Teacher Trainings are Filling Up Quickly!

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ban_eduProDev
 

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 today to make sure you get into your preferred course (listed below!)

Highlights of the Robotics Academy Training:

  • 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.”

 

Find out more at CMU Robotics Academy Professional Development!

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VEX and VEX IQ

ban_vexTeacherTraining
On-Site Classes:

ROBOTC for VEX CORTEX
July 6 – 10, 2015
July 27 – 31, 2015

ROBOTC for VEX IQ
June 22 – 26, 2015
July 13 – 17, 2015

Online Classes:

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX CORTEX
June 22 – 26, 2015
Monday-Friday for 1 week
3 – 5pm EDT (12 – 3pm PDT)

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX IQ
Jul 6 – 10, 2015
Monday-Friday for 1 week
3 – 5pm EDT (12 – 3pm PDT)

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LEGO

ban_legoTeacherTraining
On-Site Classes:

ROBOTC for LEGO
June 29 – July 3, 2015
July 20- 24, 2015

Online Classes:

ROBOTC Online Training for LEGO
Jul 13 – 17, 2015
Monday-Friday for 1 week
3 – 5pm EDT (12 – 3pm PDT)

Written by Cara Friez

May 8th, 2015 at 5:30 am

Student POV: Droids Robotics

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DroidsIn our newest edition of Student POV, we have Sanjay and Arvind Seshan, who are members of the robotics team, Not the Droids You Are Looking For (Droids Robotics) from Pittsburgh, PA, USA. They are actively involved in robotics all year around, whether competing themselves or teaching others. They constantly share some great pictures on their Twitter page of their team and outreach programs, so we’ve asked them to share some of their experiences in robotics …

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Droids 01Our first exposure to robotics was in 2010 when we decided to visit a FIRST LEGO League tournament at the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC). We were excited by what we saw and, the next summer, we purchased an NXT LEGO Mindstorms kit and learnt to program using Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy’s NXT Video Trainer.

We haven’t stopped since! In 2011, we started our own neighborhood-based robotics team with eight other friends. We have participated in FIRST LEGO League as well as VEX IQ contests since then. You can read more about us on our team website (www.droidsrobotics.org).

Benefits of Robotics:

Droids 02Participating in robotics has taught us several programming languages, as well as general computer science skills and presentation skills. We now code in NXT-G, EV3-G, ROBOTC, Python and HTML as a direct result of robotics. We are comfortable interviewing experts as well as being interviewed about our work.

We use these skills outside of robotics contests to create webpages, and make online tools and programming tutorials. We even developed a robot in Minecraft that uses Python code to complete tasks. One sDroids 03ummer, we participated in a 24-hour coding contest called Code Extreme. For that event, we created a bicycle renting system using a Raspberry Pi and an RFID reader.

Robotics has taken us to some interesting places: the inside of a Smart House for seniors, under the hood of an airplane engine, and even to a sulfur dioxide sensor manufacturing plant. These field trips have shown us many different STEM careers we might choose from.

Spreading our love for robotics:

We do many robotics outreach activities all year round. We have been invited to teach other students at the Carnegie Science Center and four local libraries in the Pittsburgh area. At these events, we try to introduce students to LEGO Mindstorms, VEX IQ, EV3-G, and ROBOTC. Kids are naturally attracted to robots, and our hands-on workshops have been very popular. In September 2014, we expanded this outreach beyond Pittsburgh by teaching students around the world to program robots using our own lessons and website (EV3Lessons.com).

Challenges of Robotics:

The biggest challenge in robotics is probably robot reliability – getting your robot to “behave” as you intend again and again. It takes both software and hardware solutions in combination to improve reliability. To add to this problem, contest environments are often very different from practice environments. Kids who don’t have access to good programming lessons like the ones provided by ROBOTC, CS2N, Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy’s EV3 Trainer, and EV3Lessons.com often feel frustrated.

Droids 04The challenges in robotics are not problems you cannot solve. They are part of what makes robotics interesting for us. They teach us to come up with different techniques as solutions. They also teach us patience and perseverance!

Overall, robotics has given us opportunities and skills that we might not have discovered otherwise. The greatest opportunity from robotics is finding out what all a robot can do! People some times think that a child’s robot “can only do so much”. We have found that it can lead to learning a lot of advanced programming techniques.

Robotics has opened up a world of possibilities for us. We especially like sharing these possibilities with other people we meet at our workshops and demos.

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You can find more information about their team here: www.droidsrobotics.org and on their programming lessons here: www.ev3lessons.com.

Written by Cara Friez

March 24th, 2015 at 6:45 am

Getting Started with ROBOTC Graphical for EV3!

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EV3 ROBOTCAre you interested in learning how to program in ROBOTC Graphical for LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 or EV3 Robot Virtual Worlds? If so, then this YouTube playlist is for you! This set of videos will help you to get started programming with ROBOTC.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

These videos are part of the Introduction to Programming EV3 Curriculum. To continue further with our free online training, visit our curriculum page here! http://www.education.rec.ri.cmu.edu/previews/ev3_products/robotc_ev3_curriculum/

Written by Cara Friez

March 20th, 2015 at 6:30 am