Archive for the ‘mindstorms’ tag
Getting your classroom organized for the beginning of the school year is an arduous task for even the most experienced teacher. It can be even more demanding for those that teach robotics. You’ve got the robot kits, you’ve been trained in ROBOTC, but how do you set up your class for the first day of school? The goal of this article is to help answer the question for both new robotic teachers and teachers that have been teaching robotics for years.
As we all know, a robotics kit is more expensive than a textbook. Moreover, because robotics kits contain so many small pieces, they can be much more difficult to take care of than a textbook. As a result, keeping your kits organized is crucial. If using a LEGO MINDSTORM NXT, EV3, or TETRIX robot, one way that I have found that can be very helpful is to name the NXT brick. Then, give the same name to the kit. Now, assign the kit to the group of students in your class. If the students know that they are responsible for that kit, it goes a long way towards them acting more responsibly with the kit. If using a VEX robot, you won’t have the same ability to name your brick, but you can still able to label your robotics kit.
Which students are assigned to work together is also something that the teacher must put some thought into. Once again, maintaining the kits is of the utmost importance. Therefore, I am not going to allow students to work together if I feel that will not take care of the kit. Some students are more organized and careful with the kits than others. I always try to have one of those students in a group. I try to have the kits named and assigned before the first day of school. If I don’t know the students, then I may have to adjust the groups as we progress throughout the beginning of the school year.
Once the kits are organized, the teacher can then start to think about how their curriculum items are going to be accessed and utilized. A math teacher has a plan for when their students have a question about a topic, or when a student is confused about a particular concept. A robotics teacher has to have the same type of plan in mind. The beauty of teaching robotics lies in the fact that students are intrinsically motivated to find answers to their problems because they are highly engaged. Some students will still be conditioned, however, to try to elicit the answer from the teacher instead of reasoning through a problem on their own. Robotics teachers need to create a plan so the students can work towards being independent and productive problem solvers.
To that end, a good approach to a complex challenge is to examine what needs to be done before the challenge, during the challenge, and after the challenge is complete. Before the challenge, students should be focusing on create flowcharts to organize their program and writing pseudocode to reflect those flowcharts. During the challenge, students should focus on commenting their code and debugging techniques. Afterwards, students should be afforded the opportunity to reflect and respond to what went well, what went not so well, and what they learned throughout the process.
Giving students a little bit of structure while they engage a challenging task will go a long way towards ensuring that the students’ high level of engagement does not turn into a high level of frustration. Engagement works both ways in that sense: High engagement leads to students that are focused on their task, but can also lead to high levels of frustration because the students desperately want to finish that task. To avoid the frustration,teachers should provide a structure that the students can rely on when needed. Before the school year begins, teachers should spend some time planning students’ work, and then the students can spend time during school working their plan.
The beginning of the school year is always a challenge. As teachers, we understand that unforeseen difficulties will always arise. However, going into the school year with as much planned and organized as possible helps us to focus on those unpredictable events that will undoubtedly occur.
Check out how we organize robot parts at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy:
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!
Join fellow PA FTC teams at this season’s Pennsylvania FTC Season Kick-off on September 7, 2013 from 11am to 4pm! This season it has expanded to three locations (East/Downingtown, Central/Millersville, West/Pittsburgh), and the three sites will be linked together to form one large virtual Kick-off event. The Pittsburgh event will take place at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center.
Schedule of Events:
11:15 Local Info Sessions / Tours (see below)
1:00 Welcome and Opening Remarks
1:10 Pennsylvania FTC 2013-2014 Season
1:30 Judging / Engineering Notebook Update
2:00 ROBOTC / Robot Virtual Worlds Update
2:30 TETRIX and Matrix Update
3:00 2013-2014 FTC Game Reveal!
3:15 Local Game Discussion
4:00 Event Complete
Tour Information – Teams visiting the West/Pittsburgh region will have a chance to tour the National Robotics Engineering Center – a research hub of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Teams will learn about how state of the art robotic concepts are being utilized in commercial, agriculture and military applications. Teams will also get to see the research and development labs for Carnegie Mellon’s Tartan Rescue, creators of CHIMP for the newest DARPA Robotics Challenge. Learn more by visiting http://www.rec.ri.cmu.edu.
In years past, the science and art fields were generally considered to be diametrically opposed; if something was scientific it usually didn’t have artistic value, and if it was a work of art it probably didn’t do much for the scientific community. Recently, though, the line between art and science has been blurred and blended in some very unique and interesting ways.
A prime example of this is a color-sensing “Coltar” made by Youtube user PhilippLens. By mixing imagination with ingenuity, PhilippLens created the hybrid guitar using a LEGO Mindstorms NXT brick with a color sensor and two touch sensors (one on the Coltar itself, the other on the ‘pick’). Using the touch sensors to control chords and the color sensor to control which notes are being ‘strummed’ allows the Coltar to emit a surprisingly large range of notes.
When you think of a printer, what images come to mind? Generally, printers are considered necessary but frustrating (Office Space, anyone?) pieces of office equipment and like most other cubicle furnishings they are usually pretty boring.
Not so much anymore.
McNamara has yet again created something functional yet stylish, this time by turning an NXT and some Mindstorm parts into a surprisingly accurate X-Y axis plotter. Quite possibly the coolest thing about the plotter, though, is that (taken from McNamara’s blog) “An X–Y plotter is a plotter that operates in two axes of motion (“X” and “Y”)… The term was used to differentiate it from standard plotters which had control only of the “y” axis, the “x” axis being continuously fed to provide a plot of some variable with time.” This mean that the pen itself moves in both the X and Y directions (technically it moves in all 3 axis of motion, but the Z axis doesn’t come into play on this plotter, except to move the pen on and off the dry-erase board) and that the table stays in a static position; very cool.
Don’t take our word for it though; check it out on McNamara’s blog (complete with pictures, video, code, and building instructions)!
Simon Burfield, a.k.a. Burf has made a super cool model. By model I mean chair and by chair I mean omnidirectional wheelchair. Oh and it’s life-sized, too. Yeah, it is capable of handling no less than 90 kg! I saw a video of an early prototype a few weeks ago but this new one is even better-er!
- It uses 7 Mindstorms bricks. One for controlling and 6 that are used for moving.
- Each driving NXT has two motors attached to it. I presume that a third motor would probably be pushing it when it comes to providing current. It’s not easy to push that much LEGO and human meat around.
- The master NXT has 4 touch sensors connected (forward, back, left and right) and 2 motors to switch on the drive touch sensors.
- It uses Rotacaster’s omniwheels to make it possible to move in any direction (except up, of course).
- It is programmed in ROBOTC (of course)
Here’s one of the videos he made:
The Robotics Academy is proud to announce the arrival of ROBOTC for Mindstorms 2.0. This new version of ROBOTC is coming almost a year after the release of ROBOTC for Mindstorms 1.40. ROBOTC 2.0 adds a lot of new feature and functionality to the popular programming language for LEGO NXT robots.
ROBOTC for LEGO MINDSTORMS is a ANSI-C based programming language for the MINDSTORMS NXT and RCX robotic systems. ROBOTC offers users a common programming language across different popular robotic platforms; with a unique powerful run-time debugger that give a user complete feedback on all input, outputs, and variables in their programs.