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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

5 Tips to Help You Streamline Your STEM Robotics Classroom

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Blog - 5 Tips STEM

Running a STEM robotics classroom can seem a little overwhelming, especially if resources are tight. How can you keep your classroom running smoothly if you don’t have a lot of resources? It’s easier than you might think. Here are a few tips to help:

Screenshot-2014-01-15_14.12.031. Use virtual robots. Virtual robots, like Robot Virtual Worlds, are a great way to add to your robotics classroom without adding to your costs. Designed to supplement physical robots, Robot Virtual Worlds allows you to teach robotics with fewer robots and more easily organize and keep track of your classroom.

You can also more easily mange students who are working at different levels, assign robotics homework, and use simulated fantasy worlds to capture students’ imaginations and make learning fun. Visit robotvirtualworlds.com to get started with a free 10-day trial.

 

2. Explore grants and other funding options. Curious about grants but don’t know where to start? There are a lot of grants and funding for STEM teachers, if you only know where to look.

Project Lead The Way has a great list of grants, as well as some information on citizen philanthropy on its site.  And, Edutopia’s “Big List of Educational Grants and Resources” page is also worth a visit.

 

CMU RA copy3. Take advantage of free resources. While this one seems obvious, it’s not always obvious where to go for quality resources. STEM is a hot topic right now, which means there’s a lot to sort through on the internet. Here are just a few of the free resources we like:

There are a lot of great webinars, blogs, and forums as well. For example, you can check out our Back-to-School Webinar Series or join the discussion on our forums.

 

4. Invest in training. Investing in the right training will help you get the most out of your STEM classroom. Because STEM requires students to take a more active role in their learning process, look for training programs that provide practical, hands-on experience to help you manage your STEM classroom and maximize your resources.

By partnering with Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy, Robomatter is able to offer a full line of training for STEM robotics teachers. Click here to learn more about online and onsite training for VEX and LEGO platforms.

 

Uncomplicate 25. Take advantage of contests and giveaways. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to get free stuff. There are lots of organizations who want to help STEM teachers and students. Take a look at these sites for some ideas:

Written by Cara Friez

August 25th, 2015 at 6:30 am

Uncomplicate Your Classroom with Robot Virtual Worlds!

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Teach Faster Flexible

You’ve probably heard of Robot Virtual Worlds, a high-end simulation environment that enables students to learn programming, even if they don’t have direct access to a physical robot. But what are the benefits of Robot Virtual Worlds and how can you use it in your classroom?

Robot Virtual Worlds is a great tool for you, your students, and your classroom. Our infographic shows just a few of the ways Robot Virtual Worlds can help you uncomplicate your classroom by:

  • Helping you teach more efficiently with fewer resources
  • Lowering the cost of staring a robotics classroom
  • Managing students working at different levels
  • Keeping students engaged
  • Capturing authentic assessment and tracking individual student progress

 

 
Robot Virtual Worlds is not designed to replace your physical robots. Instead, it’s designed to help you enhance what you’re already doing in your classroom, and help you teach faster and more efficiently with fewer resources. Looking for ideas on how you can use Robot Virtual Worlds in your classroom? Here are just a few:

  • Have students use Robot Virtual Worlds to test their code before working with a physical robot
  • Use Robot Virtual Worlds to assign robotics homework
  • Use Robot Virtual Worlds to create your own virtual challenges
  • Use simulated fantasy worlds to capture students’ attention and make learning fun
  • Provide a virtual environment for robotics teams to learn to program

You can also check out these real-world stories from teachers who have used Robot Virtual Worlds in their classroom:

Palisades Middle School

Read about how Palisades Middle School is using Robot Virtual Worlds to teach 8th grade students how to build and program a robot through collaborative teamwork

Hopewell Area School District

Learn how a teacher in the Hopewell Area School District used Robot Virtual Worlds to challenge students to apply the basics of ROBOTC programming while also asking them to come up with unique strategies for solving an open-ended challenge
 

Want to learn more about using Robot Virtual Worlds in your classroom? Tune into our “Using Robot Virtual Worlds in the PLTW Classroom” webinar on Wednesday, September 9th at 7:00 pm EDT.

 

Written by Cara Friez

August 12th, 2015 at 9:28 pm

PLTW Teachers – Uncomplicate your Classroom!

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PLTW Twitter

Robomatter is pleased to support Project Lead The Way (PLTW) schools and teachers! We want you to make the most of your school year with the PLTW Upgrade Pack.

Learn More!

The PLTW Upgrade Pack Includes:

 

RVW Video Player

Robot Virtual Worlds

Designed to enhance your physical robot classroom, Robot Virtual Worlds is a high-end simulation environment that enables students to learn programming without a physical robot.

 

 

 

 

ROBOTC Graphical

ROBOTC Graphical Interface

ROBOTC Graphical uses the same Natural Language commands you’re used to, but with an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface.

 

 

 

 

VEX IQ

Program VEX CORTEX and VEX IQ Robots with One Language

With the PLTW Upgrade Pack, you can program both VEX CORTEX and VEX IQ robots using the same ROBOTC programming language!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want access to Robot Virtual Worlds, ROBOTC Graphical, and VEX IQ Programming?

Upgrade Your PLTW Classroom today, for only $249!

 

The upgrade includes access for 100 seats for the entire school year.

 

Written by Cara Friez

August 5th, 2015 at 7:00 am

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

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Teacher_VEX copyCarnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy has announced their Fall ROBOTC online VEX 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 VEX CORTEX
Sept 22 – Oct 27, 2015
Tuesdays for 6 weeks
6 – 8pm EST (3 – 5pm PST)

 
 
 
 
 

 

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX IQ
Sept 21 – Oct 26, 2015
Mondays for 6 weeks
6 – 8pm EST (3 – 5pm PST)

 

Register Today!

 

Written by Cara Friez

June 30th, 2015 at 6:40 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

A Teacher’s POV Blog Series

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Teacher POVWe’ve had some wonderful teachers share their stories with us this year about their experience in the classroom teaching robotics. Read their stories here in our Teacher’s POV blog series.

Here are a few recent posts:

– International School Manila
– Palisades Middle School Robotics Initiative
– RVW VEX IQ Beltway
– First Year Teaching Automation and Robotics

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 socialmedia@robomatter.com and be a guest blogger for us. We would love to share your stories on our blog!

 

Written by Cara Friez

June 10th, 2015 at 11:34 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

A Teacher’s POV: International School Manila

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The Robot-arm mimics a real arm's motion

The Robot-arm mimics a real arm’s motion

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.

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.


 

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.

 

Written by Cara Friez

April 30th, 2015 at 9:55 am

A Teacher’s POV: Palisades Middle School Robotics Initiative

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Palisades1

Training at Carnegie Robotics Academy

After last summer’s on-site training at Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy, Palisades Middle School’s technology and computer teachers initiated semester STEM units featuring the VEX Cortex Clawbot, Robot Virtual Worlds software, and ROBOTC programming. 8th grade students now experience how to build and program a robot through collaborative teamwork.

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”.

Palisades2

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

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.

Palisades4In 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.