Robodogs Robotic Camp Day 3: Bowling

Well, today was another outstanding day. These last few days have been so good that we actually have to go back to the drawing board and change our plans for challenges because the kids are really creating, building, designing, and developing some amazing solutions to the challenges we are posing each day.

I have stopped several times and reflected on what is allowing for the awesomeness to happen? Here are a few ideas

1. The kids are just plain great kids. They come eager to learn every single day. They are now embracing the challenges and want to do the best they can. They are inspiring to say the least.

2. We changed our camp to a three hour block compared to the years past when students had 75-90 minutes to work. This gives them more time to work and build. We also knocked it down to one week instead of nine days, but they are actually gaining a few hours of build time.

3. We are giving more explicit instruction on how to program and how to think through problems. We are not giving any answers, but with more direct instruction on how to do things and why things work students are building a base foundation that allows them to take the ideas and spin it to meet their ideas they are creating.

4. We moved to the cafeteria to allow for more space which is working out very nice.

5. Students are in pairs this year instead of larger groups. We have more robots that allow us to do this so that has been very helpful.

Alright, so going back to the day three challenge. Today we challenged students to design and build a robot that could go bowling. We built Robodog Bowling Alley where we had four lanes open for operation. Students could choose between a small wooden ball or a pool ball to knock the pins down. Both had advantages and disadvantages that students had to process based on what type of robot they were going to build. They were given zero build instructions so we challenged them to really showcase their design skills.

Here is what they came up with on their own. Check out all the amazing designs.

In closing we were really happy with the day. I hope the next two days continue to build because I am learning more than ever before and by them meeting all the challenges we as coaches have to step up our game to make sure we keep these kids thinking and problem solving.

Until tomorrow……

 

The video is a bit longer than the previous two, but we wanted to capture the thinking in design so we added some short interviews with some of the groups so you can hear and see how they start from scratch, develop an idea in their mind, and then bring it to life. Scoring results are posted in the slidedeck if interested in how they scored.
All kids are awesome. Never forget that!
Here are the posts from the first two days in cased you missed them
Robodogs Robotics Camp Day 2 http://wp.me/p4covo-1pd 
Robodogs Robotic Camp Day 1 http://wp.me/p4covo-1p6
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Robodogs Robotics Camp Day 2

Line Following For Days!

Wow! What a fantastic second day of robotics camp today. I am not exaggerarting when I state how proud I am of these amazing 60 kids. Today we started off with a few changes.

1. We had them change partners today. We want to see how they work with a variety of different people. Each day we have them work with someone new so they can experience different roles, different personalities, and to keep things fresh for everyone. This also allows us to see what each kid is capable of achieving.

2. We recapped with things that went well and not so well from the first day. We helped those who struggled with robot design by provided a very simple 10 piece build as well as three other simple suggestions(see slidedeck)

3. We built upon what we learned from the first day and dove into greater detail about HOW the program works. We really want students to understand the functions and all the available options.

Today we challenged them with Line Following. We had them think about robot body design as they had to build a new bot that would allow for color sensor accuracy, ultrasonic placement for the challenge, touch sensor use, and overall smooth line following.

Once we gave them a few pointers we sent them off to build with their new partner. After about 20 minutes we stopped and I taught them how to line follow using light reflection. This is much more accurate than simply reading color because not all of them understand sensor placement and sometimes the lighting can throw the color readings off.

So, we documented how to take five light reflection readings using Port View. We then divide the sum by five and that becomes your light threshold for the switch block. Once they learn this they can now dial in their robots no matter the light conditions. We had a variety of course with different light settings so they had to practice adjusting the threshold to show us their understanding.

You can see the slides for the challenges and lessons to learn more. What I most impressed with was how many groups picked up the concept of line follow. We had six challenges and over 75% of the groups conquered them all. We allowed them to work at their own pace, choose the missions they wanted to do, and leave it up to them to chart their own course.

It was a great day. I could not believe how much the learned today. They did a much better job problem solving, listening, and asking quality questions. I cannot wait for tomorrow.

The challenge tomorrow is to build a robot that bowl. We have the lanes ready to go so we will see who can score the most.

Here is a recap of day one if you missed it.
Robodogs Robotic Camp Day 1 http://wp.me/p4covo-1p6

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BrushArtBot Presentation Reflection

Today I traveled to Johnston Middle School in Johnston, Iowa to present as a Master Teacher for Iowa Public Television. This was a small conference as this is something new for IPTV.

I decided to challenge myself by presenting in a new way. I did not use any slides and I did not use my computer or any tech. What I wanted to do was create more of a hands on workshop. I have sat through enough sessions and keynotes and PD where we sat, listened and walked away with intention but not IMPLEMENTATION.

I had 40 minutes to present my project BrushArtBot which is a page here on the site(see top menu)

This was a bit tough because I was not sure how many people were going to show up. In the end I had probably around 20 of the 30+ people here at the conference. What I wanted them to do was play, tinker, and experiment. In order for that to happen I had to talk less and let them do more.

I briefly talked about who I was and what I do. I then explained the materials in their baggies. Very quickly I explained how to assemble the brushbot.

Keep in mind they all had access to my lesson plans as well as the page on my website to see everything if they wanted.

What I found interesting was that like our students in the classroom the audience was quiet and bit hesitant to experiment. However, as soon as one guy had his bot moving everyone decided to move. They all wanted their bots to move as well.

Cheaply, I set up some board to create a short little racetrack so they could race their bots. They loved this. During this time I talked about the various extensions and connections about how we could connect these to any subject, any grade, and any learning from circuits, electricity, art, design, wiring, science, math, etc. I told them how they could create challenges about fastest by moving the motor, the battery, weight, etc. This really got their gears turning a bit.

Next, we had about 18 minutes left so I challenged them to the true design of converting their brushbot to an artbot. I had everything laid out for them to play. It was great to watch them try and make it happen. We had some success of bots painting some patterns. It was so fun to watch them go.

One thing that I was bummed about was having enough time to share with them how to connect the dots to true learning and standards. This is more than just a “fun” activity. True learning could occur with adding elements of a design notebook and the specific content you teach. This is something I will have to do a follow up video on to help with those that continue to use this project.

Additionally, I need to create a database of bots created. Some really wonderful designs were created. Also, I need to add more layers of challenges and post those videos online as well. I have several videos to add and finish editing.

In the end I was satisfied more than what I thought I would be. It was a great test run for this idea with many things for me to think about, fix, enhance, and improve upon.

I present at a conference next week and was not thinking about using this project, but I might change things to add this as part of my Tink Tank because the interest of the audience was high. To prepare is not cheap, but if I can excite teachers to add new ways of teaching, then it is worth the cost.

 


Created with flickr slideshow.

 

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Robodogs Summer Camp Preview

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR CAMP INFO FOR SUMMER 2015 PLEASE GO HERE

http://coffeeforthebrain.com/robodogs/

 

In about one week we begin our annual Robodog Summer Camp. The camp is an 8 day camp designed to help students get a taste of LEGO EV3 robotics and programming. From the camp we do select members of our team to represent the Robodogs for First Lego League. Each session is 90 minutes.

You can more about Robodogs and the camp on our Robodog wiki.

This year we have new mats, challenges, and missions. We have to keep coming up with new ideas each year because some members have been at our camp for four years so we cannot repeat challenges, but at the same time keeping some things simple so everyone can have success.

We have been lucky enough to win some grant money that have allowed us to purchase the Space Activity Mats. I have never used them and I am excited to give them a trial run. As you probably already know, many reviews and posts will be forthcoming.

I made this short little video in iMovie today and sent it out to all students who are coming to camp. I am excited.

 

 

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Sphero 2.0 Episode 1: Playing and Programming with Coffeechug Jr.

Here is the first in a series of videos my son and I are going to be making about Sphero 2.0

I have future plans of reviews and videos with my students as well. I have a Sphero 2.0 and this is something that I was not sure how much education value it was going to provide, but I was shocked and am so excited to see the great potential in this device.

This video is just a short snapshot of the kids playing around with Sphero 2.0. We spent hours learning how to center it and then working to navigate. We have downloaded all the apps and testing those out. Personally, I am stoked that my son is learning programming by trying to figure out how to make Sphero 2.0 do what he wants. We are creating some new challenges as we speak and will be posting these soon.

This is just the start. I am curious to see how things develop and how to use a class set in my  middle school.

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Schoolwide LEGO World build challenge update!

A few weeks ago we launched the schoolwide LEGO World Build Challenge where teachers could sign their home room to come down and build for 15 minutes. I purchases over a $100 worth of base plates so there was room to build. It was well worth the cost.

The rules are simple

1. Don’t destroy any work on the board. You may modify and enhance, but not destroy.

2. Build what you want.

You can see my first post about this challenge to see where we started.

I have taken pictures each week to document the building process from a blank canvas to space slowly filling up.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 3.12.19 PMScreen Shot 2014-04-13 at 3.12.35 PMScreen Shot 2014-04-13 at 3.14.07 PMScreen Shot 2014-04-13 at 3.14.28 PMScreen Shot 2014-04-13 at 3.14.58 PM

 

You can see the challenge now lies in the issue of taking what pieces we have left and creating something worthy. If you check the slideshow down below you see how many changes have taken place. We have had all sorts of things built and over time the ones that students don’t really dig slowly get taken over or eliminated, but not in a mean way.

Just today we had two really cool ideas develop that I will have to share at a later date.

This is a great challenge for students. They are limited on time so they must build quick and if they want their work to remain it must have a strong foundation that intrigues other classes. Each day a new wave of 15-20 students come and continue the journey. It is a great process.

And like everything else, I have big plans to make this even more epic soon!

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LEGO EV3: Bluetooth Project – Windy City

Before we strip down all of our robots and complete our sorting process of LEGO for our summer camp I wanted to have one of our students come in to shoot a short video discussing his programming for a prototype of one of our projects from First Lego League.

IMG_9125Adam is an 8th grader. He was on our team for one year being new to our school. In that short time he really came along with programming and has been able to do things that nobody else has been able to do. He is a remarkable kid and I feel so honored to have had time to work with him. I learn from whenever he shares with me his projects and things he is working on.

We created a video where he discusses his idea for this concept. We recorded through my iPad, then did a short screen-share showing the programming, followed by him testing out my Google Glass showing the project one more time.

IMG_9126

Let us know what you think and if you have any questions. He is one more example of how amazing students can be when you give them wings to fly and let them go.

 

 

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Schoolwide LEGO World Building Challenge Update

Last week I kicked off the BMS LEGO World Building Challenge.

Rules are simple

1. You cannot take any pieces off the building area
2. You need to build structures that enhance the overall city

Students come down and just build!

Since we started we have now had four TA’s come through to build for about 15 minutes which is about all the time they get by the time they get down to the place to build. At first I thought this would not be good, but actually it works perfect. What happens is that the students get an idea and start building, but they cannot finish. This leaves the next wave of students to use their imagination and flavor onto an existing structure that is not yet finished.

Watching the students build is really cool. The kids just play and experiment. They don’t have to, but they cannot resist grabbing a few pieces. What happens is that they just start building. It is so cool to watch their gears turn.

I will continue to post pictures onto the Flickr set on this building challenge

We started bare and basic with blue plates for water and everything considered land

Students started off by building a river which I thought was GENIUS! I never would have thought to build that. Next we witnessed students building vehicles, buildings, etc.

When the next wave came through they started to build a cliff with a waterfall to flow into the water. BRILLIANT! We have a basketball hoop and other goodies

 

Friday of last week I opened the building challenge up to teachers. They started adding a beach and really ramping up the water scene. Do you think we have Spring Break on our mind?

Today, students added some brilliant pieces. We have tentacles coming out of the water and a new snow covered structure.

I had to purchase a bunch of new baseplates to keep things going. As we fill things up I will continue to support and expand the world. I love this opportunity for students to just build and play. So important that we keep these opportunities alive.

When I get home tonight I will upload the builds from today. It is really taking shape and expanding.

We have groups coming down all week so we will make some major ground.

Here is a quick image shot of development

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 5.50.57 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 5.50.36 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 5.50.16 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 5.49.48 AM

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Robodogs Informational Meeting for Summer Camp and FLL

Are you going to be in grades 5th-8th grade next year? Are you someone interested in presentations, building, designing, programming, making props, research and developing new solutions to problems in the world, and making new friends all at the same time? If you answered YES!, then you need to come learn about the Bettendorf Robodogs.

Welcome to our Robodogs Summer Camp page. We are so glad that you are interested in joining our camp. We have been running this camp for over 6 years and over time we have developed a camp that excites students to work through problem solving and coding.

Each year we develop new challenges to keep things fresh. We offer a variety of challenges that meet the needs of students who are brand new to robotics with zero experience to those who have years of experience.

We believe in working together to challenge students. Our camp ensures that each student works with the robot as well as the programming. We have plenty of robots to meet the numbers of students.

At this time we are offering two sessions. We will cap each session at 30. This is a first come, first serve opportunity so don’t delay. We have sold out the last three years.

The Robodogs are having a mandatory Robodog meeting to discuss details about the upcoming summer camp, expectations of the camp, as well as details about the Robodogs team and the season. This is a very highly motivated, full commitment, high expectation program and team that we would like for you to consider being part of for the next season for First Lego League.

A mandatory parent/student informational meeting will take place at 6:00 pm in the cafeteria at Bettendorf Middle School on April 13th. During this meeting we will go over expectations, format, and answer any questions you have.

Based on the summer camp we will select team members for the Robodogs First Lego League season. This camp and our selection process is looking for the best of the best! Our summer camp is open to any student from any school, but our Robodog team is limited to only Bettendorf students.

We look forward to another amazing year of learning robotics, speaking skills, research development, and creating solutions to real world problems. We hope to see you at the meeting. Spread the word and let your friends know about this opportunity.

If you have questions please contact one of the following coaches

Advisors:
Dan Drexler – ddrexler@bettendorf.k12.ia.us

Aaron Maurer – amaurer@bettendorf.k12.ia.us

Shannon Budde – sbudde@bettendorf.k12.ia.us


 

When you are ready to sign up for camp follow these steps:

Step 1: Registration Form

Fill out this Google Form that will provide us the information of parents/guardians and student.

Step 2: Payment

Cost for camp is $90

Send payment to the following:

Aaron Maurer

c/o Bettendorf Middle School

2030 Middle Road

Bettendorf, Iowa 52722

Please make checks payable to Bettendorf CSD Lego Camp

We will email when money is received. You can drop off money in front office or have your student bring it to my classroom also.

Step 3: Information Meeting

We will be holding an information meeting for parents and students to learn more about camp and the Robodogs on Monday, April 13th from 6:00 – 7:00 in Bettendorf Middle School Cafeteria.

Step 4: Get Started

Feel free to download the programming software for free and get used to how things work.

Check out our resource page

Check out our Tutorial page

Check out our past Robodog teams(we are migrating things over to this page, but in the meantime you can see past team results and robots.

Learn more about First Lego League

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LEGO City School Wide Building Challenge

photo

This is not a class lesson per se, but what I am setting up in my middle school is a Lego City Building Challenge. I have some base plates that I have scrounged up and I have them assembled on a table as seen in the picture. During our homeroom classes can sign up on a calendar and come down and build as they wish. The goal here is to create a collaborative building project.

Rules are simple
1. You cannot take any pieces off the building area
2. You need to build structures that enhance the overall city

As time goes on students will develop a name. As the base plates fill up I will buy more plates to keep the process going and allowing them to figure out how to add more to an existing structure much like cities of today.

Down the road I would like to add electronics and spice things up with LED, Arduino, etc.

But for now we just need to build. I have a bin of various pieces that they can choose from to build.

It is free-form, but overtime I think it will start to manifest itself into something really powerful.

Right now the blue will act as the ocean so they cannot build buildings on the water. Green is fair game. I don’t have any criteria for grey or white yet as I put them there due to lack of boards, but if anyone were to have a clever concept for those colors I am open.

Just wanted to share another possibility to bridge students and classes together in a non threatening way.

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