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A Teacher’s POV: First Year Teaching Automation and Robotics

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In our latest Teacher’s POV post, Ross Hartley wrote a wonderful post about his first semester teaching Automation and Robotics in the Pickerington Local School District. Check it out below …

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This is my third year teaching, but my first time working with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and a robotics course. After accepting this assignment, I was extremely nervous. I did not study robotics in college, and I had never, ever pictured myself in this role. But I am so very happy to have taken on this challenge.

This is a picture of students preparing for the Racecar Challenge. Students had to build and program a racecar that would go the fastest in 20 feet but had 6 feet past the finish line to stop.

This is a picture of students preparing for the Racecar Challenge. Students had to build and program a racecar that would go the fastest in 20 feet but had 6 feet past the finish line to stop.

Students working on building and programming a car that would follow a set of simulated directions to go from the house of one student to the movies and back. Students had to program the lights to turn on and off, backing in and out of parking spaces, and completing turns.

Students building and programming a car that would follow a set of simulated directions to go from the house of one student to the movies and back. Students had to program the lights to turn on and off, backing in and out of parking spaces, and completing turns.

My favorite part about teaching this class is the atmosphere and expectations that I set up with this class and my students. From the first day of school, I was completely honest with the kids. I broke down the walls of the normal teacher-student relationship where the teacher is looked at as the bearer of all knowledge and all knowledge is passed down from the teacher to the students. I created a culture where students and their knowledge are equally valued and as important as the teacher’s. This led to a culture of mutual respect and collaboration. I, as the teacher, was not viewed as the bearer of all knowledge, but as a helpful resource to rely on when problems arose. The most important part of creating this culture is setting up those expectations from the beginning of school.

This was the last challenge for the class. Students had to build and program a “ClawBot” to complete various tasks including picking up and moving a cup as pictured.

Students had to build and program a “ClawBot” to complete various tasks including picking up and moving a cup as pictured.

The major theme from this class was “Problem-Solving”. I would present students with a variety of real-world scenarios and they would have to think of a design to solve that problem. They would work in groups of 2 to 4 students to create, construct, and program these robots to solve the problems I presented to them. This allowed for A LOT of different interpretations and ways to solve these problems, which was awesome!

Several key strategies that I incorporated into the class that proved to be successful were: purposeful grouping, incorporating student choice, and using students in a teacher’s role to help other students who needed more assistance. I incorporated a “Menus” style of teaching and learning. Students would be purposefully grouped into groups of 2-4 and then they would be presented with 3 different levels of activities: Appetizer, Main Meal, and Dessert. Within each level, students would have to choose 1 task out of 3 or 4 different options. As a group, students would choose which task to complete. Once decided, students would work as a group to design, build, and program the robot to complete the task. I would watch the robot perform the task, sign off on their paper, and they would move on to the next part of the menu. The activities got progressively more difficult as students moved from the Appetizer to the Main Meal to the Dessert level, with the Dessert level activities being the most difficult.

As we get ready to begin with the second semester, I cannot help but think about how much I have learned and how better of a teacher that I have become because of teaching this class. Some future ideas I have are the creation of a “Girls in STEM Club”. The purpose of this being opening girls’ eyes to future careers and possibilities associated with this class and the STEM ideals. Also, possibly creating a VEX Competition Robotics club where students would meet after school to construct robots to participate in VEX Robotics competitions. One thing that I realized early on in my teaching career is how much teachers learn from their students. Teaching this class has been one of the best learning experiences of my life.

For this challenge students had to build a freight elevator that had three different switches on the actual elevator. When pressed, the elevator takes passengers from the ground floor to the first or second floor and back down.

For this challenge students had to build a freight elevator that had three different switches on the actual elevator. When pressed, the elevator takes passengers from the ground floor to the first or second floor and back down.

 

– Ross Hartley

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If you’re a teacher or robotics coach and would like to write a blog about your experiences teaching, send us an email at socialmedia@robotc.net!

Written by Cara Friez

February 4th, 2015 at 11:10 am

Visit us at the PLTW Summit 2014!

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Photo Nov 02, 3 21 40 PM We are at the 2014 PLTW Summit in Indianapolis this week! Stop by our booth to say hi and ask us questions.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Nov 02, 9 32 09 PM

We also have our latest iPad app, Robot Virtual Worlds Expedition Atlantis, available to try out.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Nov 02, 5 00 43 PMAnd there is a ROBOTC Maze Challenge where you can program a VEX IQ robot using ROBOTC Graphical.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Nov 02, 9 32 15 PM

We look forward to seeing everyone!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Written by Cara Friez

November 3rd, 2014 at 6:30 am

PLTW Students at Walker Career Center create a VEX Claw Game

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Project Lead the Way Students at Walker Career Center have recreated the popular stuffed animal claw game using ROBOTC, VEX components, custom-made parts, lumber, and lots of hard work.

From the project page:

“The Vex Claw Game was chosen as our project for the first semester because we could really use it to promote engineering throughout the community. It’s not only fun and exciting, but it also incorporates each of the Project Lead The Way classes that we offer at Walker Career Center. Parts from the claw game include many skills that we have learned during out time in PLTW including constructing structures with Vex parts, programming, rapid prototyping, CO2 laser cutting, and wiring. This project took us around 3 months of in school time to complete.”

To read more about the project and see how it was built from the ground up, visit their project page here.

On behalf of the ROBOTC team, job well done!

Written by Jesse Flot

July 19th, 2012 at 11:44 am

Posted in Cool projects,Cortex,VEX

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PLTW Students Integrate LynxMotion and VEX

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Do you get hungry? Do you enjoy eating food more than you enjoy making food? If you answered “Yes!” to both of those questions, you’ll be happy to know that the future engineers of America have you covered.

Students from two Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Schools have integrated the sensing and control capabilities of the VEX Cortex Robotics system with the advanced articulation capabilities of the LynxMotion Robotics system to create highly capable (and delicious) assembly lines.

The first two videos are brought to us by students in a Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) class at Kings High School in California.

Robotic Sandwich Factory:

Buttered Toast Factory (complete with real-life toaster):

The work behind the last two videos was done by students in another CIM class at Lancaster High School in New York.

Coffee Manufacturing Line:

Widget Assembly Line:

Well done to all the students involved, and to the instructors that inspired them. Keep up the great work!

If you’re looking for more information, additional videos and explanation can be found on their respective YouTube channels.

Written by Jesse Flot

June 12th, 2012 at 10:48 am

Posted in Cortex,VEX

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