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Mentoring Program uses ROBOTC and VEX IQ to Teach STEM and Connect with Military Families

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Tyrrek Grizzle poses with a robot he constructed during the robotics summer camp. The camp is part of an ECU partnership that supports elementary and middle grades students from military families in eastern North Carolina. (Photos by Jay Clark)

Tyrrek Grizzle poses with a robot he constructed during the robotics summer camp. The camp is part of an ECU partnership that supports elementary and middle grades students from military families in eastern North Carolina. (Photos by Jay Clark)

We were delighted to hear about an inaugural weeklong robotics summer camp happening in North Carolina that is using ROBOTC, ROBOTC Graphical, and the VEX Robotics IQ system to help teach students STEM while keeping them connected to their military families. (One of the mentors was trained at the Robotics Academy last summer too!) Read the story and watch the video highlighting this program below!

Reblog from East Carolina University’s News Service

POSITIVE CONNECTIONS
ECU partners in Operation LINK mentoring program

Ten-year-old Tyrrek Grizzle took control of his paddle, maneuvering his miniature land mover with ease.

He and a teammate moved his robot across a grid and past an opponent to pick up as many green-colored blocks as possible and dump them in a coordinating green basket. The team that filled the basket with the most blocks in the three-minute competition won.

Grizzle attended an inaugural weeklong robotics summer camp through Operation LINK, an AmeriCorps school-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics mentoring program for elementary and middle grades students in eastern North Carolina. The STEM program, with a special emphasis on students from military families, will transition from an afterschool program to part of the regular school day this fall.

 


 

Offered this spring in Wayne County, the program aims to promote positive behaviors and success in school while keeping military youth connected to family. It’s a partnership between East Carolina University, AmeriCorps, military family support networks, veterans groups, community colleges and public schools.

The summer camp, held at Greenwood Middle School in Goldsboro, allowed students to make real robots from designs they developed in their afterschool program.

Counselors and campers used a box kit to construct a robot with up to 650 pieces. A software program (ROBOTC) developed at Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy gave the students the ability to control movements.

“We had fourth-graders writing code,” said Michael “Mike” Dermody, associate professor of cinematic arts and media production in the ECU School of Art. Dermody, who grew up in a military family, said “It’s amazing how quickly they adapt. It’s a very tactile and hands-on experience. They go in and test and modify it. There’s lots of activity between the computer itself and the robot.”

For Grizzle, a rising fifth-grader at Tommy’s Road Elementary School, taking his work from the computer lab to create a functioning robot is exciting. “Robots help you in a lot of ways,” said Grizzle. “They help us do things we can’t normally do ourselves.” Grizzle has cousins who serve in the military.

Amy Perry, left, watches as her daughter, Kayla Perry, works at the Operation LINK afterschool program held this spring in Goldsboro. Amy Perry is a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, where she inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Amy Perry, left, watches as her daughter, Kayla Perry, works at the Operation LINK afterschool program held this spring in Goldsboro. Amy Perry is a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, where she inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The pilot program will become part of the curriculum this fall at three Wayne County schools with a higher population of children from military families, said Lou U. Rose, Operation LINK coordinator in the ECU College of Education, which has facilitated the program.

“We will be able to impact more kids that way.”

Area teachers observed some of the program activities. “Some will do it as an elective in science and math classes,” Rose said.

“The beauty of this is they can tailor it and run with it and be creative. It brings relevancy in the real world, and maybe will get students interested in science.”

Michael Giddens, an AmeriCorps camp mentor who earned a teaching certificate in middle grades science and math from ECU in May, said students learned to collaborate and work as a team at the camp.

“The energy has been electrifying,” Giddens said. “Keeping them (students) engaged is a challenge in the classroom in the 21st century.”

One old-fashioned value students have learned has been patience, Giddens said, such as when broken robots have had to be re-assembled. Now poised to reach more students, the initial idea for the Operation LINK program was to create a way for military parents to interact with their children – via the web – while the parents were away from home. “It’s (been) a way to keep the child connected,” Dermody said.

USAF airman first class Eagan Nadeau pilots one of the student robots.

USAF airman first class Eagan Nadeau pilots one of the student robots.

Amy Perry’s nine-year-old daughter Kayla and 10-year-old daughter, Alexis, participated in the afterschool program. Perry, a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The Perry family doesn’t have a computer, internet or cable in their home. So the program has helped support her girls’ interests in science and technology. “It works for us,” she said.

Perry said the counselors encouraged her daughters’ unique personalities. “It’s allowing them to have the space to be who they are,” she said. “Respecting others is important.”

Kayla Perry said she enjoyed the computer lab and making a virtual robot. “I like the teachers. All the time they think of cool things for us to do,” she said. “They always come up with these amazing ideas.”

Program activities have helped build relationships between mentors and students, and among students, said Virginia Harris, a retired teacher and military spouse who taught 23 years in several states and overseas.

“I’ve seen changes in the students, being able to work together and learning to follow rules better,” Harris said. “One of the main things they learn is you’re not an island. You have to get along with people in life. I think it’s difficult for little people to work together as a team sometimes.”

To learn more, visit www.ecu.edu/operationlink.

Logan Chase, 10, works on programming after a practice session with his robot.

Logan Chase, 10, works on programming after a practice session with his robot.

Reblog from East Carolina University’s News Service

Written by Cara Friez

July 24th, 2014 at 11:26 am

Cool Project: Room Explorer Bot with Mapping Functions

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ROBOTC user, Sigtrygg (forum name), recently shared a project on the ROBOTC forums that they have been working on called the NXT Room Explorer Bot with Mapping Functions. Check out the YouTube video of the robot in action …
 


Sigtrygg description and breakdown of the bot …
 

The robot is based upon a standard REM-Bot but in addition equipped with a HiTechnic gyro, HiTechnic compass sensor and an omni-wheel. First the robot moves about 360° to calibrate the compass using the gyro (thank you to Xander Soldaat for code!). Then the robot moves its sonar-head to the right, to the left and in front position to get the distances according to its position. After doing this it turns around to the wall with the minimum distance and drives in front of it until sonar sensor detected a minimum sensor distance, e.g. 20cm. Then the robot turns parallel to the wall, moves his sonar-head to the right detecting the distance to the wall and drives counter clockwise parallel to the wall balancing distance. A mapping-task records the compass and odometry data every second and calculate the polar coordinates to cartesian coordinates (x,y). The coordinates are written as “map.txt”-file. So you can use Excel or an other program to draw the path which the robot had moved. In addition to that you can follow the path at the NXT-LCD-screen. I had to choose a scale for it, so you have to suit the scale to your room size. If the robots touch sensor has detected an obstacle the robot moves back and turn left for 90 degrees and continuous his explorer-duty always running counter clockwise with wall to the right. How to expect the end of path doesn’t suit exactly to the beginning because of inaccuracies of compass and odometry measures.

CIMG3122

Construction of the robot. The upper sensor is the compass sensor.

CIMG3125

Construction of the robot. The upper sensor is the compass sensor.

Screenshot

Screenshot of Excel data-sheet

LCD Screenshot

LCD Screenshot

To read more about this project, check out the ROBOTC Forum post here!

Written by Cara Friez

July 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Curriculum Preview: Intro to Programming VEX IQ for ROBOTC!

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We are excited to give you a preview into our newest curriculum series: The Introduction to Programming VEX IQ with ROBOTC. The website is still in-the-works, but it should be completely ready by August. The focus for this curriculum is on the VEX IQ virtual and/or physical robot and the ROBOTC 4.0 software featuring the new  graphical function. It consists of videos, PDFs, quizzes, and our famous easy to use step-by-step videos. Check out some of the videos of from our curriculum series …
 


 

 

 

The Introduction to Programming VEX IQ with ROBOTC is a curriculum module designed to teach core computer programming logic and reasoning skills using a robotics engineering context. It contains a sequence of projects (plus one capstone challenge) organized around key robotics and programming concepts.

Why should I use the Introduction to Programming EV3 Curriculum?

Introduction to Programming provides a structured sequence of programming activities in real-world project-based contexts. The projects are designed to get students thinking about the patterns and structure of not just robotics, but also programming and problem-solving more generally. By the end of the curriculum, students should be better thinkers, not just coders.

What are the Learning Objectives of the Introduction to Programming VEX IQ Curriculum?

  • Basic concepts of programming
    • Commands
    • Sequences of commands
  • Intermediate concepts of programming
    • Program Flow Model
    • Simple (Wait For) Sensor behaviors
    • Decision-Making Structures
    • Loops
    • Switches
  • Engineering practices
    • Building solutions to real-world problems
    • Problem-solving strategies
    • Teamwork

For more info and to see the online version of the curriculum, visit http://curriculum.cs2n.org/vexiq.

Written by Cara Friez

July 17th, 2014 at 7:45 am

ROBOTC at the China International Robotic Show

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China ROBOTC 006The China ROBOTC team sent us some great photos from the China International Robotic Show in Shanghai, which they’ll be at from July 9-11. We will update the photos here and on our Facebook page as we get them from the weekend!

 

 

 

 

Written by Cara Friez

July 9th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Sign up for the Robotics Summer of Learning All Summer!

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Fun RSOL

 

Did you know that you can sign up for the Robotics Summer of Learning anytime during the summer? All our live webinars are recorded, so you can easily sign up today and work at your own pace!

FAQ


How do I join and get into the class?
Sign in or sign up for a new account at CS2N.org. Then visit http://cs2n.org/summer-of-learning and click on the VEX IQ robot. You’ll be taken to a new page where you will click “View” under “Summer of Learning 2014 – VEX IQ – Intro.” From there you will be in the official Summer of Learning course!

How much does this course and/or software cost?
Nothing at all! It is free until September 1, 2014.

What do I need to download?
ROBOTC and the VEX IQ Challenge Pack. You need to download both items. The License ID and Password is located in the CS2N Moodle Course. Use these to activate the license for the entire summer (through September 1st). Computer Minimum Requirements.

Where can I find the link for the live classes?
The link is at the top of the section for the topic of that class. For example, if the topic for the live class is turning, the link will be at the top of the basic movement section. This is also where you will find the recording after the live class has ended.

What is the class schedule?
The live class schedule is listed below, but remember that you can work throughout the summer at your own pace. All classes are recorded. Just keep in mind that if you work ahead, some items of the curriculum will not be released until later this summer.

Will I be able to use the ROBOTC Graphical with EV3 and/or NXT? And, will there be a RSOL class for that?
ROBOTC for LEGO MINDSTORMS is still in development, but it will be available later this summer. Once it is ready, there will be a Robotics Summer of Learning course specifically for it.

 

Live Webinar Course Schedule

  • June 16: Introduction to Software, Setup, Forums and Procedures used in this course
  • June 17: Intro to Expedition Atlantis and Moving Forward
  • June 23: Turning and Intro to Ruins of Atlantis
  • June 30: Forward until Touch and Forward until Near
  • July 7th: Turn for Angle, Forward until Color, Intro to Palm Island
  • July 14th: Loops and if/else
  • July 21st: Repeated Decisions, Continuous Decisions, Intro to Operation Reset
  • July 28th: Joystick and Button control, intro to VEX IQ Highrise

Sign Up2

 

Robotics Summer of Learning Starts Next Week!!

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Our Robotics Summer of Learning (RSOL) course opens this Sunday, June 15 with our first live webinar course starting on Monday, June 16! The RSOL gives students the opportunity to learn how to program robots using a free copy ROBOTC 4.0 (including the new Graphical Natural Language) for Robot Virtual Worlds programming software. If you’ve always thought that ROBOTC was too difficult, you should try out the new Graphical Natural Language, which is part of ROBOTC 4.0!

Sign up here!

Live Webinar Course Schedule:

  • June 16: Introduction to Software, Setup, Forums and Procedures used in this course.
  • June 17: Intro to Expedition Atlantis and Moving Forward
  • June 23: Turning and Intro to Ruins of Atlantis
  • June 30: Forward until Touch and Forward until Near
  • July 7th: Turn for Angle, Forward until Color, Intro to Palm Island
  • July 14th: Loops and if/else
  • July 21st: Repeated Decisions, Continuous Decisions, Intro to Operation Reset
  • July 28th: Joystick and Button control, intro to VEX IQ Highrise

All courses will be held at 1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time with a live instructor. A link will be available in the CS2N Moodle course for each session. All sessions are recorded so that you can take the course at your own pace. These dates are subject to change.

And don’t forget to sign up for our Robotics Summer of Learning Newsletter to get important reminders and information throughout the summer!

Cool Project: VEX IQ Quadruped

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Repost from BotBench

In my last post about the VEX IQ building system I had a small video featuring my VEX Quadruped.  I’ve done a bit of work on it since then and the gait has been greatly improved.  I also added some small rubber feet on the legs.  These are the traction links from the Tank Tread & Intake Kit.

Due to the heavy load that these motors are under, you may find that the batteries will run down a bit faster than you’re used to.  Good thing the kits come with a charger!

Up next on the agenda is to add some sensors and have it interact a bit more.  The little wheels on the bottom are not used when it is walking; the robot is fully lifted off the ground.

I’ve taken some picture, so you can see how it’s put together.  These should be enough to copy the design, should you wish to.  You can download the program to run this here: [LINK].  Note that part of the code is based on the excellent guide on creating an Arduino based quadruped: [LINK].

CIMG3355 CIMG3367

CIMG3353 CIMG3354

CIMG3357 CIMG3358

CIMG3359 CIMG3366

CIMG3360 CIMG3361

CIMG3362 CIMG3363

CIMG3364 CIMG3365

Repost from BotBench

 

Robomatter Blog Ad VEX IQ

Written by Xander Soldaat

June 3rd, 2014 at 11:17 am

CMU Robotics Academy Professional Development Classes are Filling Up Quickly!

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PD Blog

The ROBOTC Professional Development courses offered by Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy are filling up quickly. Register today to make sure you get into your preferred course!

On-Site Training

Take one of our week long on-site courses in Pittsburgh, PA at the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC). NREC is part of the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, a world-renowned robotics organization, where you’ll be surrounded by real-world robot research and commercialization.

ROBOTC for LEGO / TETRIX
July 7 – 11, 2014
July 28 – August 1, 2014

ROBOTC for VEX CORTEX
August 4 – 8, 2014

Online Training

Enjoy the convenience of taking Robotics Academy courses without leaving your own computer workstation with our online classes.

ROBOTC Online Training for TETRIX
July 21st – 25th, 2014
Monday – Friday for 1 Week
3-5:00pm EST (12-3:00pm PST)

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX CORTEX
July 28th – August 1st, 2014
Monday – Friday for 1 Week
3-5:00pm EST (12-3:00pm PST)

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX IQ
August 11th – 15th, 2014
Monday – Friday for 1 Week
3-5:00pm EST (12-3:00pm PST)

The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy’s Professional Development courses provide teachers and coaches with a solid foundation for robot programming in the respective languages, and experience in troubleshooting common student mistakes. It also focuses on identifying and extracting academic value from the naturally occurring STEM situations encountered in robotics explorations. All participants who complete the course will receive a Robotics Academy Certification. Find out more here – Robotics Academy Professional Development

Written by Cara Friez

June 2nd, 2014 at 11:15 am

Announcing ROBOTC 4.10 now available!

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Summer 4.10The ROBOTC Development Team is excited to announce the availability of ROBOTC 4.10 – an update for the both the VEX Robotics (Cortex and IQ) and LEGO Mindstorms (NXT and EV3) robotics systems. This new version includes new features and functionality for all ROBOTC 4.X compatible platforms.

  • Full support for the VEX IQ platform in ‘Robot Virtual Worlds’ – Updated “Curriculum Companion” to support VEX IQ
  • Support for VEX IQ 2.4Ghz International Radios (Requires VEX IQ Firmware 1.10 or newer)
  • Initial Support for I2C devices with EV3 platform
  • Updated Graphical Natural Language with new colors and commands!
  • Support for nMotorEncoderTarget in Virtual Worlds (NXT & Cortex Platforms)
  • Support for motor synchronization in Robot Virtual Worlds (NXT Platform)
  • Initial update of ROBOTC documentation (VEX Cortex/IQ Platforms)
  • Support for Project Lead the Way (PLTW) 2014-2015 School Year Users

Before you can use ROBOTC 4.10, you will need to ensure that your devices are up to date. The instructions to update your hardware will be different depending on what hardware setup you may have…

LEGO NXT Users

  • Simply update to the latest ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

LEGO EV3 Users

  • Update your LEGO EV3′s Firmware/Kernel by connecting your EV3 and select “Download EV3 Linux Kernel” from inside of ROBOTC – This process will take about 5 minutes and will allow your EV3 to communicate with both ROBOTC and the EV3 Icon-Based programming language. After updating your EV3′S Linux Kernel, you’ll be able to install the ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.

VEX IQ Users

  • Run the “VEX IQ Firmware Update Utility” and update your VEX IQ Brain to firmware version 1.10. You will also need to update your VEX IQ Wireless Controller by attaching it to your VEX IQ Brain using the tether cable. You will also have to 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 version 4.22 from inside of ROBOTC. After updating your master firmware, you will also have to install the latest ROBOTC firmware as well.

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 find the “VEXnet Key 2.0 Firmware Upgrade Utility” utility here.
  • Link: http://www.vexrobotics.com/wiki/index.php/Software_Downloads
  • 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 version 4.22 from inside of ROBOTC. After updating your master firmware, you will also have to install the latest ROBOTC firmware as well.

Here’s the list of changes and enhancements between version 4.08/4.09 and 4.10.

New Features

  • Full support for the VEX IQ platform in ‘Robot Virtual Worlds’ – Updated “Curriculum Companion” to support VEX IQ
  • Support for VEX IQ 2.4Ghz International Radios (Requires VEX IQ Firmware 1.10 or newer)
  • Initial Support for I2C devices with EV3 platform
  • Updated Graphical Natural Language with new colors and commands!
  • Support for nMotorEncoderTarget in Virtual Worlds (NXT & Cortex Platforms)
  • Support for motor synchronization in Robot Virtual Worlds (NXT Platform)
  • Initial update of ROBOTC documentation (VEX Cortex/IQ Platforms)
  • Support for Project Lead the Way (PLTW) 2014-2015 School Year Users

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed issue when deleting graphical blocks and ROBOTC would crash.
  • Improved error messages/status messages for Tele-Op based downloads with VEX IQ
  • Improved Licensing system features to provide more debugging feedback for -9105 errors.
  • Fixed to revert issue causing bad message replies on the VEX Cortex system which prevent downloading user programs. (4.09 only)
  • Updated CHM files and fixed issues in ROBOTC opening the wrong CHM file.
  • Update colors properly with the new document architecture with graphical.
  • EV3 – Casper update to prevent crashing when using VMWare Virtual Machines.
  • VEX IQ Graphical – Add USB ‘Directional Pad/POV Hat’ values for use with armControl with Virtual Worlds for IQ
  • VEX IQ Graphical – Added the ability for Graphical XML Documents to contain “RBC Macro” parameters.
  • Licensing system update to fix “heartbleed” like issues that may be present during activation.
  • EV3/IQ – Eliminate duplicate identical definitions in robotcintrinsics.c for motor commands.
  • Add new EV3 commands for sending I2C messages
  • Fix a bug in compiler generation of ‘string’ concatenation (i.e. “+”) operator.
  • Bug in code generation. Incorrect generation of opcode bytes for “opcdAssignGlobalSShort”; old format using 1-byte global index instead of new format with 2-bytes.
  • Update timeouts for VEX Cortex with new Master Firmware 4.22 for use with VEXnet 2.0 Radios.
  • Renamed DrawCircle to drawCircle
  • Fix Compiler bug with “%” and “>>” opcodes. Most of the “>>=”, “<<=”, “%=”, “&”=, “|=”, and “~=” opcodes don’t care whether the left-hand operand is ‘signed’ or ‘unsigned’. That’s how they were treated in current compiler / VM. However, “>>” and “%” opcodes do care if “signed’ vs ‘unsigned’ where the operand size is either ‘char’ or ‘short’. This change fixes that situation. This problem has been undetected since the introduction of ‘unsigned char’ and ‘unsigned short’ types were introduced.
  • 4WD Support for Natural Language with VEX IQ.
  • VEX IQ Graphical – Changes to “moveMotor” command to allow it to move in reverse if user specifies a negative quantity or speed, not just speed
  • VEX IQ Grahpical – Adjust the Graphical arcadeContorl and tankControl commands to only show channels; adjust armControl to only show buttons; add default values to most commands
  • Virtual Worlds – regulated motor movements for RVW;
  • VEX IQ – Fixed VEX IQ bug where I2C traffic would be considered “timed out” on VM startup.

As always, if you have questions or feedback, feel free to contact at support@robotc.net or visit our forums!

Written by Cara Friez

May 28th, 2014 at 8:12 pm

ROBOTC Omniwheel Article in Design & Technology Practice Magazine

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twitterDT_logo Xander Soldaat, ROBOTC Project Contributor, was recently asked to write a robotics article for the British Design & Technology Practice magazine.  He wrote about the basics of programming a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT omniwheel based platform, and the mathematics behind it using ROBOTC as the programming language.  

You can read a copy of the article here: [LINK].

The D&T Association is the organization that represents the interests of  Design and Technology (STEM) teachers throughout the UK.

 
 

Robomatter Blog Ad LEGO

 

Written by Cara Friez

May 13th, 2014 at 10:26 am