LEGO EV3 Programming Tip: Using Spaces

It is Monday which means a new Youtube video sharing something to help you or inspire you. While my daughters and I work on a new episode of our show I thought I would share some new things I have been exploring in LEGO EV3 Mindstorms.

In this tutorial using LEGO EV3 Mindstorms Programming software I am showcasing a very simple but often overlooked programming tip – the use of spaces. Learn how adding spaces in your program can help with

1. Parallel Programming

2. Troubleshooting simple errors

3. Group programming blocks by mission

4. Easily organize and realign coding blocks

Please check out the video and I would love it if you would give it a thumbs up. I would love it more if you subscribed to the channel.

My goal is to continue to share and inspire what I learn with others in hopes that it helps at least one other person.

Until the next tip…….. STAY AWESOME!

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Rub Your Eyes, This is Real! FIRST World Championships

The sparkle in the eye.

 

The one that causes you to stop blinking or perhaps blink a bit faster than normal.

 

That moment when you or a kid or a pack of them are walking at that kid pace and strut doing their thing. You know what I am talking about. When they are mindless of everything around them until now.

When one stops. Points. Walks a bit slower to the destination.

 

And then they stop. Facial expressions freeze. Movement ceases. Talk is nil.

 

The ultimate mannequin challenge created by disbelief of what their eyes are perceiving. The fact registers that what they think is impossible is possible.

 

That moment when the light bulb not only turns on, but shatters. New barriers have been created and formed.

 

The smile forms and the questions start flooding the brain. Pictures and video are taken to capture and prove what they are witnessing.

 

This is what I have been fortunate enough to experience time and time again while being with LEGO Education during the FIRST World Championships in Houston, Texas. Hundreds of teams from all over the world are here to compete and do their best job with the robots and research they have been working on for months on end.

 

Their ideas are crazy and amazing. They are more than what we often give kids credit for in a regular day. These kids are driven with a passion for learning. I was reignited in my belief in the spirit of a child. A child that ranges all the way to the teenage years. These kids are driven. They want to learn. They want to prove the world wrong by showcasing how powerful they can be when they work together as a team to make a vision a reality.

 

It is easy to knock the systems of education. It is easy to bash education. It is simple to find test scores and point fingers. It is easy for educators to blame kids and say they don’t care.

 

These are negatives and stereotypes that don’t fit. I know this because I just hung out with 20,000 kids that are the complete opposite. FIRST World Championship is full of excitement for learning and engagement in STEM. It is the mecca for showcasing how amazing kids are when you provide them an opportunity to pursue something they love.

 

The same moment kids have when they see the work of Master Lee Magpili dragon and eagle is the same moment I am having when I see the robots and the work of the kids in their pits and in the arenas.

FIRST not only inspires youth, but has inspired me to see what is possible. The journey has only started. It is time to bend reality for the kids I work with on a daily basis and it is all because of this opportunity.

 

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Damien Kee Lego EV3 Book Review: Chapters 1 and 2

If you work with Lego products, then you know of Damien Kee. If not, then you are truly missing out and need to connect yourself with this amazing person and thinker.

I recently purchased his latest book Classroom Activities for the Busy Teacher: EV3 and am working my way through the chapters when time allows.

I am going to be reviewing this book in chunks by chapters and concepts. This post will cover chapters 1 and 2.

To start with you need to follow his build instructions. This build takes very little time. It was super easy to build. Much easier than the Lego EV3 build. I would say it is not as sturdy, but for learning about the robot and making your way through this book, it works perfectly and I even have a few students using his build for their work as we speak.

Chapter 1 is just an overview of the book and how the ideas would play out in a classroom.

Chapter 2 is really where it starts. This chapter focuses on how to program the RileyRover to move. He covers Move Steering and all the options that come with this block. The visuals and layout are easy to read and understand.

What I liked about this chapter is that he mentions the math and calculations for determining circumference. As an educator and coach it drives me crazy when kids continue to just plug and chug. If they took the time to measure the wheels they would save so much time. They don’t always believe me, but once they do they realize how simple of a concept this really is.

Once the robot has been programmed to move straight, then it becomes time to work on turning. He makes it clear that each robot is different and therefore no one number will be the answer. When I went through trying to make my robot go 360 degrees it took a programming turn of 840 degrees to move it in a complete circle. To turn 180 degrees I had to program my robot to go 425 degrees with the Steering Block. It need just a bit more than I though.

Last, a couple things I learned from experimenting.

1. Negative power = backward steering
2. 1 rotation of basic wheels is 6.9 inches or we use 7 inches as a standard
3. Move steering blocks controls the wheels, not the whole robot so ……. 360 degrees does not go full circle!

Next up I will cover chapters 3 and discuss how this chapter is important for documenting learning and especially for teams doing First Lego League.

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Robodogs season is underway! Lego EV3 and Learning

I have been meaning to get everyone updated on another great season of First Lego League. Our team has made some major changes to this season creating a massive learning curve for both students and us coaches. Here is a quick breakdown of the changes.

  • We have moved to the new robot EV3. This is creating a new learning curve to our programming and building. We have our experienced members learning the material new as well as trying to help the young members who are brand new to robotics. Our whole mentorship approach to our team is not as smooth yet as everyone is still in learning and experimental mode.
  • We have a new room. I will share pictures in a bit, but after several years of working in tight spaces and rooms of other teachers we finally have our own place. It just needs to be finished so we can decorate it a bit.
  • We have moved to two teams. We have twice as many kids this year. We are sorting through the handling of two teams, how to properly divide, as well as coming up with two robots and two projects.
These are big changes. The great thing is that we are being challenged in all aspects so regardless of the outcomes we are all learning invaluable lessons in design, teamwork, and application.
This is what our room looks like

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We have since divided the boards up to separate parts of the room because we just were not getting enough done with all kids together in one spot.

Before any student could place a robot on the board and begin to strategize they had to solve these four tests first using the new software

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We had some close calls to the minifig
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We also had several ways to go in a 360 turn

I will add all the test boards we created using duct tape on our robot website soon.http://robodogs.wikispaces.com/

We need to update our site for this season. Please check it out later this week with all updates.

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Challenging my Lego EV3 Skills. Master must become Student #lego #coffeechugPLN

Eyes open

I have had some time to investigate EV3 and all the capabilities. I have made it a mission to be efficient in this robot by the time school starts.

Today I had a few hours to really study and tinker a bit. Here a few things I learned that I either forgot about or did not previous know.

1. Terminology – modes and parameters

2. When movement is defined in Seconds, the distance traveled is affected by the battery level. When defined in Degrees, the motion is precise.

3. Use the Wheel Pointers to help understand the relationship between motor and Driving Base rotation. Students often assume a 90-degree motor turn is equal to a 90-degree Driving Base turn. Note that the distance between the driving wheels will affect the turning radius.

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14 Signs You Know You Are At The LEGO LEAP Conference?

Yesterday was another amazing day of learning and connecting. I decided to share a few things about how to identify if you are at this amazing conference.

So you know you are at the LEGO LEAP conference when…

  • you see adults jumping and hollering when two robots move because of daisy chain.
  • talk about Raspberry pi and Adafruit are not our favorite fruits to eat but still make us happy
  • Beagleboard and Arduino are not discussion topics about pets
  • studying a program for a robot that displays a threshold for light is AMAZING and somewhat of an Inception movie mind blown moment
  • a presenter uses the coolest word ever – Amalgamators
  • you are being pushed out of our comfort zones in every possible way and is a great reminder of what our students go through in our classrooms.
  • when you don’t get the topic that you want, instead of pouting, the people get down to work and create something rather cool and very useful for the classroom
  • adults spending more time than necessary creating a minifig avatar for online discussion

  • you feel relieved to know about never taking batteries out of a robot while it is shutting down.
  • Content Editor has just become the new Powerpoint
  • so many great discussions about education in general which excites me. The conference ideas go beyond LEGO to what really can we do to help prepare kids for the real world. One of my favorites lines spoken over these last few days is “Lego is not the answer, but it is an avenue.” That is powerful and true for anything.
  • people speak with a fierceness in their ideas about their passions. This is why the discussions here are amazing. When someone speaks it is about something dear to them and therefore the conversations are real. Real conversations are powerful and you don’t have to waste time going through the motions of trying to create fake dialogue.
  • tired, but sad to see the conference come to an end. I feel that I need a 2 month sabbatical to go home and put into practice and play all the ideas I have been charting and learning. 
  • feeling humbled by everyone here is a great feeling. You know this is a great conference when I leave with 30+ ideas to explore and insights and learning that will help me be better. If I walked away not feeling humbled by the content and people, then the conference is not good. This conference is beyond good. It is AWESOMESAUCE! and has challenged me more than any other opportunity I have had in education.
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Robodogs Robotics Camp

I am one of two Robodogs Robotics coaches for Bettendorf Schools. We have operated a summer camp the last few years where from this camp we create our FLL team. As I continue to share what we do and how we do things I thought it would be important to share our camp form.

We are working to change things up a bit. Each year we build and design new robot challenges so that the people who have attended the camp in years prior do not have an advantage. We also opt to not have an advanced class as people have asked us about. We keep everyone together because we like to see who has mentor-ship and leadership skills. Can the students who know how to operate a robot lead and be part of a team concept? Those skills are just as vital as knowing how to program. We look at thought process, problem solving, and speaking skills. There is so much to ponder and consider. The robot really is just the gimmick to see the whole child.
Anyways, here is our form in case you are interested in the camp or want to see how we set things up. If you have questions or want to know more please let me know.
Our robotics page is http://robodogs.wikispaces.com/ if you want to know more.
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More Coffeechug Luvin’ for Lego EV3 #LegoEV3 @firstlegoleague

I am going to build more robots this weekend, but I just had to share the small things about this new robot that I love. It does not take much to impress me, but I have to share my nerdiness and love for Lego.

The new EV3 robot has EYES!

Yes, EYES!

Coffeechug Jr. is sleepy

Sleeping

Coffeechug Jr. is awake and ready to rock and roll!

Eyes open

And Coffeechug Jr. just crashed!

Eyes closed

Stay tuned for more cool robots showing up on the blog this weekend

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NERD Heaven! Playing around with new Lego EV3 Robot Kit

I am fortunate enough to have my hands on the new Lego EV3 robot coming out this fall. I am tinkering around and playing with this new robot and I must say that I am impressed…….very impressed. Now, full disclosure is that I have barely touched the surface and only build a few little models and currently am playing around with the Gyro bot so I might find some issues down the road, but for now I love it.

I am a First Lego League coach and the more I play around with this robot and test out the accuracies of sensors, capabilities of new sensors, what the little motor can add, etc. I think there is no doubt that this is a game changer.

And it should be if you are coming out with an upgraded robot.

Now, the kicker is that I don’t see how teams will be able to compete fairly compared to the new robot. Yes, some teams are masterminds with Mindstorm 2.0 and can probably beat most teams, but that is not so much a hardware issue as it is just kids who are brilliant. For new teams this robot is a must. I think about all the new teams in Iowa in the last few years who have merged into this field. Will they be able to upgrade and compete? I don’t know.

I know for my team we will have to figure out how to use this robot. The pieces have some new features and the programming is a bit different. Nothing drastic, but oh so cool.

Here are some images and video of the robot. I have built Gyro and he is SWEET mixed with AWESOMESAUCE!

This new piece is major! A metal ball to help as a slider and navigator for the robot. It years past our team has always struggled creating a slide piece that was accurate in turning. Now we can use this metal ball and that changes everything. It might not seem like a big deal, but it is!

No more rubber treads. Instead you get this piece. I need to play around with these a bit more as I have not had time, but looking at videos online you can see how much better these pieces are for traction, moving, and modifying to the size you need.

 I build the Gyro Bot and to see a robot balance itself on two wheels is just amazing. It really changes your thinking in robot design. The possibilities are now becoming more and more with this new sensor.

Here is a short video of the Gyro Bot being able to move over uneven surfaces. Nothing earth shattering, but shows potential in this new robot kit.

And in case you have not heard the announcement……….

EV3 ship date has been announced!!!!

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