LEGO EV3 Tutorial 9: Data Wires

Are you ready to learn more about programming in the LEGO Ev3 software? Have you come to understand how to program motors and sensors, but want to move things to the next level?

In this episode we explore data wires and how you can begin to program your robot to to use data wires to create more precise programming.

A data wire is used to send information between programming blocks. In this tutorial we will be sending information from an output plug to an input plug by having a robot slow down as it moves closer to a wall.

For previous tutorials and more that will come each week during FLL season please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. You can also check things out here as well

  1. Coffee For The Brain: LEGO EV3 page
  2. Coffee For The Brain: LEGO EV3 Tutorial page
  3. OneNote Resource Guide
  4. LEGO EV3 Youtube Playlist
  5. Symbaloo

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment here on on YouTube and if you have a question let me know and I will address it in upcoming videos.

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First Lego League: Where Do I Start?

Are you new to First Lego League? Are you looking to make sense of all that you have to do as a coach to have a team prepared to run a robot in a 2:30 timed mat run, present a 5 minute innovative research presentation, get judged on core values, and prove you know what your robot can actually do?

Last night I hosted an online session for people wanting to learn more about the season and how we operate our three Robodog teams. This is one method and style and not THE answer, but the hope is that it helps out those looking for suggestions and advice.

In this session I talk about how to manage months September through December, resources, how to apply computational thinking, and more.

I would love it if you have experience and have suggestions, tips, and/or ideas. Please leave a comment so others can benefit.

 

Here are the resources from the session

  1. Symbaloo

  1. Coffee For The Brain: LEGO EV3 page
  2. Coffee For The Brain: LEGO EV3 Tutorial page
  3. OneNote Resource Guide
  4. LEGO EV3 Youtube Playlist

My goal is to provide at least two tutorials a week for the next few months. If there is something you would like to learn please let me know. I won’t showcase how to solve specific missions, but will help cover programming in general.

I am willing to do another session on programming so if interested please let me know by choosing yes on this form. If form below is not working you can access it here.

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Robodogs Sumobot Camp Day 1: Holy Robots, Batman!

This year we added a new camp that is all about sumobots. This is a three day camp that allows us to work with a greater range of students from grades 3-9. We have been asked time and time again about opportunities for younger students and we thought this was a perfect fit. This camp allows students to really do a lot more with robot engineering in terms of building a functional robot and figuring out how to best build a solid robot chasis. The beauty of this camp is that we can teach coding, but it does not require a lot of coding to get started which is perfect for the younger ages.

Our first day was a great start to the camp. We got everyone settled in and made sure everyone knew the rules and how things would operate. You can check the slidedeck but realize this is a living breathing document and will probably change and be modified today as we continue to work through things.

The basic premise is to knock off your opponents robot from the arena without doing massive damage to the robot and parts.

We have about 30 students in the camp ranging from incoming 3rd graders who have never touched a robot to 8th graders who have a pretty extensive background. In the end it does not matter because they all work at their own levels and in this case experience is not as important as one might think.

The first day students were taught how the robots work, how to create a base using simple parts, and the very basics for getting a robot to move. We had them only focus on adding wheels and a gyro ball and getting the robot to move. Our more advanced students went ahead and did their own thing as they already knew these basics.IMG_4256

Once students were able to build a simple robot base that was sturdy we sat with them and demonstrated how to program using the move blocks in the programming language. Our first step was to basically show them that they could build and program a robot.  Confidence is key with anything we do in life and so the quicker we can instill that confidence, the better the outcome.

After we had the robots up and running, we had the students add a color sensor so their robot could detect black and white which are the two colors on the board.

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If students can begin to understand that they can program a robot to make a decision, then the possibilities start to really take off. In our case we wanted every student to have a robot with a color sensor that detected black and white. If the robot read the color black, then their robot would do “x”. If the robot read the color “white”, then their robot would do “y”. It is at this point that students start to make their robots unique in terms of behavior, actions, and movement.

IMG_4276 (1)As students started to figure these things out, we let them work for a bit on their own. There is a real powerful moment of learning when a student experiments on their own. It is also a very fine balance in teaching where we want them to do the work, but we don’t want them so frustrated they give up. Our real goal is to help these students develop their problem solving skills through robotics.

Finally, once they have a robot that can detect colors, then it is now up to them to build and develop a robot that will win a sumo match. This is where day 2 will lead as many of them have a robot that moves. Most of them have the color sensor working. We will have all of this done early in camp in day 2 and then it will be up to the students to devise a body, attachments, sensors, motors, etc. that will really bring their robot to life.

Already we have seen some really impressive robot designs. The imagination and creative juices of students impresses me time and time again.

Here is a quick recap of day 1 and we are really excited about day 2 and seeing how the robots develop and evolve.

 

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Robodogs Robotics Camp was AMAZING!

Another year of robotics camp is in the books. We had an amazing week working with so many talented, smart, intelligent students from grades 5-8 who came to work every single day for 3 hour blocks of time to push their learning and thinking. We had students coming 30-40 minutes early to get extra work on the robot. We had students studying videos online to learn more tactics and build ideas. We had students asking questions, wondering what if I do that or this.

I was reminded about how amazing students can be when given the chance to spread their wings and fly. I was reminded that there are so many ways to go about being amazing and solving problems. I was reminded that gender and age mean absolutely nothing when we put our minds to a problem. We witnessed incoming 5th graders solve some pretty complex tasks. We watched girls knock it out of the park. We watched students of various ages coming together sharing ideas, teaching coding, helping with code.

We also witnessed and help to coach and mentor through the moments of failure. We told the students that robotics is about dealing with failure. 80% of the time is working on things that don’t work. There is a great deal of learning about oneself when something does not work for the 50th time. Students were working through the process of moving ideas from their head into the real world.

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We also had students work on their speaking skills. We challenged them to articulate their thoughts, explain why the built the robots they constructed, break down their strategy for earning points, and what they hoped to achieve. We taught them that being able to communicate and articulate ideas is one of the most vital skills we can develop. If we can communicate and problem solve, then we are highly employable and can accomplish great things.

I wanted to take time to not just emphasize robotics, but to talk a bit about the lessons learned.

  1. The impossible happens….only if you try. We challenged students to do things they have never done before. Some of the students had never touched a robot. Some have never programmed before and we challenged them to build and code a robot that would solve missions. Some had experience so we pushed them to do things with code that was beyond their current level of thinking. The big theme was to do things we never thought we could. It is scary to push into this new zone of thought, but the rewards can be great if we try. The ones who were successful realized that if one idea did not work out, then they would be able to devise and create another one. Many times we give up and instead we have to keep trying.IMG_3824
  2. Opportunity is always expanding.  We must continue to learn and grow. Each day students had the opportunity to learn and grow. Some stay focused on the task at hand while some migrated to other ideas, but we all expanded and pushed our boundaries. We must remember that the physical work is not as fixed as we once thought. What schools have taught in the past are wrong because our dreams don’t need to be fixed either. The landscape of the world is changing so we can do anything we want to do.IMG_4243
  3. Dream what doesn’t exist.  Go out and build that robot that nobody thinks you can build. Go out and solve that mission that nobody thinks can be solved in a 15 hour week of camp. We had students score some incredible point values that many teams in 2013 would have loved to score during the 4 month season. I was literally blown away by what the students were able to do. Check out the scores.
  4. Focus is key. Many students experienced what it means to take ownership of their work and learning. They realized that their success and setbacks was a result of them and their work. Nobody was going to do the work for them. In these moments students learn so much about themselves. Students came together to cheer one another on. When students were frustrated we watched others come to their rescue to help build them back up. Many learned a valuable lesson that the obstacles occur when we lose sight of the goals. We cannot solve all of these lessons in one camp, but the more we can immerse students in these life experiences the more opportunity they have to develop the skills and perseverance to endure.IMG_3819
  5. Teaching is a privilege. I love having the opportunity teach coding and robotics. I honestly feel blessed to be able to do these camps and continue to have these moments to teach and learn with students each and every school year. I wish I could provide more camps and opportunities and am working to do so, but regardless I am reminded how lucky I am to work with amazing students and watch them grow and develop.

In closing, we had another amazing camp and I was reminded of these life lessons. I hope the students had the same life lessons. We now prepare for one more robotics camp where we will be building sumobots. Until then keep pushing yourselves and learning each and every single day.

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Previous post about the camp.

Robodogs Robotics Camp Day 2: Perseverance http://wp.me/p4covo-1Ev

Information about our camp

 

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Robodogs Robotics Camp Day 2: Perseverance

The second day of camp always proves to be a bit of a challenge mentally. The day first comes excitement and all new challenges and building of a robot. The second day is where students find out if their ideas work. For many, the process typically requires a complete or very near complete overhaul of their original design concept.

This is a tough moment. Many think their first idea is the best idea. Many have never been in a situation where they have had to endure several versions of their prototype ideas to find out what actually works. This can be challenging, but it is a vital piece in the learning process.

One of the key pieces of learning that is often hard for students to understand is the process of elimination. Today all of them were gaining valuable insights and critical elements of learning by discovering what does NOT work.  The process of elimination is what will allow for success. However, this is difficult for students to grasp because the learning is not always tangible. Points are not being scored and missions are not being solved. But, by working through ideas and noting what works and what does not is one more key step in learning and robotics.

Success comes from ruling things out. This is why in a typical robotics season we invest hundred of hours into our robot as we figure out what works and what does not work in addition to adding new layers to the robot as we incorporate new missions and challenges.

Today we really had students trying to think about strategy. We started off helping them to think about strategy. Do you know the points? Do you know why you are building what you are building?

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This is all new territory for many of the students. They are doing amazing. What the students have been able to create, code, and accomplish in two days is really a sight to see. Each student tackles things a bit differently and that is what makes it unique and exciting.

Day 3 will lead us to checkpoint to see where each robot currently is before our Friday point runs. Today will be another exciting day as they continue to learn so much about themselves and robotics even if they don’t even realize it!

Here is our photo album from camp.

Here is a little video of day 2

Robodogs LEGO EV3 Camp Day 1 http://wp.me/p4covo-1Es

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Robodogs LEGO EV3 Camp Day 1

This year of camp is off to a great start. We are testing out new ideas this year. First, we eliminated group work and gave each student their own robot. This means we have 70 robots doing some amazing work, but it also requires lots of organization, sorting of parts, and making sure that everything works.

Additionally, this year we decided to use old FLL mats to give students a true simulation of First LEGO League. In years past we have designed and created daily missions. This year we mixed things up and so far it has been a smooth beginning. We must continue to ensure that students have daily successes.

For the first day we divided students into three groups. We took our new students and taught them the software, how the sensors work, and how to do basic programming. We did not spend a long time on this, but just enough for them to understand how things work. We then shared the board and explained all the challenges.

For our returning students and former Robodogs we gave them a kit and set them to work on their own to get started. We discussed how we are looking for their strategy and ideas. For our new students we had a prebuilt robot that they tested ideas out on before they were given their kit to build a new one from scratch.

By the end of both three hours sessions we had students already solving missions and already finishing up their build designs for their robots. They were much further ahead than we expected. There is a power to personalized learning when instead of trying to whole group teach and holding people back. Instead we gave them the tools they needed and away they went. The students have ideas and until they build and try them out for themselves they are not going to listen or hear our ideas. As they work they ask questions to us and to their peers.

Three hours is a long time, but you would be amazed at how focused every single student was during the camp. These are some amazing students. I cannot wait to see what they accomplish today.

Day 2 will be some quick teaching points based on what we observed, a few suggestions, and then working to solve the missions.

Here is our photo album from day 1. We will have many more pictures in day 2

Here is a little video of day 1 that I put together for everyone along with some slides we used at camp.

Here is the pre camp Sway sent out to students for them to prepare.

Last, here is all of our camp information for those interested

Cheers to an awesome first day and onwards to another exciting day of camp today!

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What are you going to do with that old tire? #tirechallenge

Seven students make up one of our three Robodog First Lego League teams. These seven students ranging in grades 5th – 8th have been working since September to figure out how to make the world a better place by figuring out a new idea to help reduce trash. This is the theme for First Lego League Trash Trek.

This team has come up with an idea rather than a product. They have developed #tirechallenge mimicked after the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. They are hoping to inspire action by everyone.

The students have taken on the task of trying to make sense of the millions of discarded tires found in rivers and landfills all over. After many hours of research and trying to come up with something innovative they realized that there is simply only so much that can be done with tires. They realized that unless you are a national company that has the machinery to shred tires there really is very little you can do.

Until……

You realize that a tire can be morphed into hundreds of thousands of different ideas. They can be repurposed for very little cost. And so #tirechallenge was born.

#tirechallenge is challenging you take an old tire and turn it into something useful in your life. They are asking you share your ideas and work with the hashtag #tirechallenge on Twitter or you can email me(I am a coach) and we will share it for you.

Below you will see their ideas that they came up with. These are just a few(we will share more on Twitter over the course of the next week)

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The first student took a tire and cut it down to size to resole an old shoe. He sure learned a great deal about the toughness of tires! Second, we have a flower pot. Third, we have a dog bed. Fourth, we have a tire chair and this has become the hot seat in my room. Every student wants to sit on this chair.

We have more ideas like making tables using tires and old barn planks, picture frames, and more.

We are asking that you share this message. We want this challenge spread. It is a great STEM activity, science lesson, after school club, and/or family challenge. We want you to make something awesome.

If nothing else, then please spread the word so we can see how far our message will reach. The more that are aware, then the more tires can be reused and not just sit in landfills.

Here is our YouTube video to learn about our process.

Our research presentation will be shared soon after regionals. We compete Saturday so we are hoping to get an invite to state to continue the journey. Regardless, we will continue to push the #tirechallenge.

Last, we have two other teams that we will be sharing about next. Stay tuned, but in the meantime please go find that tire, make something cool, and spread the message.

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Robodogs Robotics Camp Day 5: Team Challenge

It is hard to believe that camp is over. These last five days flew by. I was continually impressed and challenged by all 60 of these amazing students who came every single day excited to learn, eager to learn, wanting to learn, and improving as people along the way.

For the first four days of camp students worked in pairs to allow optimal learning about coding and design. We wanted to ensure everyone had plenty of time with the robot and programming.

The last day we mixed things up. We wanted to see how the students worked in a larger group setting. We also wanted to create a challenge that would allow us to watch students emerge as leaders, understand and apply what they learned throughout the week, and do so in an environment where it was fun and exciting.

As you can see in the slides the challenge was to take five robots and create either a wave sequence, a dance, follow the leader, a mix of these ideas, or something entirely new. We left it wide open to see what they would come up with.

After giving a few tips, emphasizing the need to diagram and draw out plans before building, and programming hints we set them on their way to give them about two hours to create something from scratch.

Two hours may seem like a lot of time but when you think about

  • Merging together and working with kids you have never worked with before until now
  • Sharing out ideas
  • Deciding on an idea to execute
  • Build five robots
  • Program five robots
  • Test all the variables
  • Prepare for speaking
  • Presentation

You can see that two hours is not much time.

Like each day of camp leading up to day five, the kids blew us away. I was reminded how powerful their brains are when it comes to creativity and completing a task.

Check out the video. See the images of them working by themselves. Check out the group presentations and finally their robot work. It is sometimes easy to forget that these kids will be entering 5th grade through 8th grade. The majority of students are entering 5th and 6th grade so for them to complete what they did gives me great hope for the future.

I have been running robotic camp for seven years and this year was hands down the best. Kids were great. Space was wonderful. Challenges were exciting. Everything made for a great week where I left excited and not exhausted.

Thank you everyone who made camp a success!

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Robodogs Robotic Camp Day 4

Day 4 proved to be a tough day. The last three days students have blow us away with what they have been able to accomplish. Today we launched for challenges for the students to work on. They could choose which one they wanted to start with and they could choose how they wanted to go about solving the challenges. All challenges are in the slidedeck.

Our main goal today was to look for application. Could the students apply what they have been learning the last three days, infuse all their tools, and apply to new situations? We were looking to see if they could further develop their build design and apply all the coding lessons. More importantly, have the students made progress from day one in their skills.

This camp is a tough one to operate because we have all walks of experience. We have incoming 5th graders who have never seen the robot to 8th graders who have had 3-4 years experience. What is considered success for each student is uniquely different as each kid that walks through our door. Every single day we see growth with the students. It is not just about programming, but how do you ask quality questions, how do you deal with adversity, how do you treat others, how do you merge thoughts with other people, and how do you make yourself better each and every single day?

Students worked like crazy to accomplish the challenges. We saw many great things. We told them upfront not to be discouraged if they did not get through them all because it is impossible given the scope of time. Throughout the day we saw many breakthroughs.

It is hard to believe that the last day is coming up. What we have planned for the last day is something I am very excited about. It will require great energy, passion, and group work networking to pull off, but I think we are going to have some amazing breakthroughs on the last day.

 

Robotic Camp Day 3: Bowling http://wp.me/p4covo-1pl

Robodogs Robotics Camp Day 2 http://wp.me/p4covo-1pd

Robodogs Robotic Camp Day 1 http://wp.me/p4covo-1p6

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