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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

Mohave Robotics Kicking Off Their Season with ROBOTC Graphical

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20140218 iPhonePics 129The Mohave Robotics team (7681B) shared with us that their team voted to kick off their VEX IQ season using ROBOTC Graphical instead of the regular version they used last year. Per their teacher, Bert te Velde, “We wanted to get more people involved with programming and ROBOTC Graphical was the logical step to allow everyone on the team to get involved, no matter what their prior level of experience.”

In November 2013, Mohave Middle School sent four 7th graders to Scottsdale Community College for a three month course in full ROBOTC. The results were worth the effort, with Mohave winning the VEX IQ Programming Award at the VEX IQ Arizona State Championship in March 2014, and placing 14th at the VEX IQ World Championship in April 2014. “And they did that with a modified clawbot, one ball at a time!” exclaims Glenn Clevenger, one of the team’s mentors. “It’s hard to believe that they went from scoring 1 point at their first qualifying event in January to scoring 40 points at the VEX IQ World Championship in April. These kids are proof that ROBOTC is not too difficult for a 7th grader to handle.”

Blog Photo Robot Only

If you are wondering why Mohave is moving to ROBOTC Graphical, it’s because they plan to have their 8th graders teach all of the 6th and 7th graders that participate in VEX IQ how to program this year. The 8th graders decided it would be faster to get the new team members up to speed on the graphical version, without having to worry about syntax errors. And they can always convert their program to full ROBOTC if they need to later into the season.

Click here to learn more about ROBOTC Graphical!

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Robomatter Blog Ad VEX IQ

Written by Cara Friez

September 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am

FTC Kickoff 2013 Pittsburgh PA

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FTCicon

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:

11:00 Registration
11:15 Local Info Sessions / Tours (see below)
12:15 Lunch
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
2:45 Break
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.

Written by Cara Friez

August 14th, 2013 at 5:50 pm

FTC Grants Available for New Teams!

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FTCiconFIRST has announced an exciting FTC Rookie Team Grant program for the 2013-2014 robotics season! This an exciting opportunity for all new North American FTC teams to take advantage of to help offset the cost of registration fees and robot kits (click here for a sample FTC budget.) Coaches of veteran teams are eligible to start a rookie team, as long as they register their veteran team(s) too.

Eligible rookie FTC teams will receive the $500 grant automatically. All you need to do is register your new team here – http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/ftc/registration.
 
 
 
 

Written by Cara Friez

July 5th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Student POV: Mia Garbaccio

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Robotics Picture 1Every year at Worlds, we get to meet some amazingly talented students. This year was no different! One of those students was the lead programmer and captain for the all-girls VEX team 355E, Mia Garbaccio. She is an avid programmer with an organized binder of code that impressed the entire Robotics Academy team. Check out her story and programming binder in this interview:

 

 

 

 

 


 
Are you a programming student who wants to share your story with us? If so, send us an email at
socialmedia@cs2n.org
!

Written by Cara Friez

June 19th, 2013 at 6:00 pm