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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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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Robodogs Robotic Camp Day 1

Challenging Students Without Instructions

Today we had our first day of our Robodog Robotics Camp. We had two sessions of 30 students each for each of our three hour blocks of time. We started off camp explaining our goals and that we want them to think beyond following a how-to guide. We want them to design on their own or at least without copying step by step. One thing we have learned over the years is that when students simply copy they don’t learn.

After talking about the skills we were looking for(gracious professionalism, treating others right, staying positive when things don’t work, teamwork, collaboration) we explained the first challenge.

We jumped right into a big a challenge. We have students from grades 5-8 so we have students who have never seen a robot to those who have had several years. This challenge was to design the fastest dragster down a 14 foot runway.

Students worked in pairs. Each pair was given a computer and one EV3 kit. We told them we wanted them to build their own robot design. We did not want them building the drive base as we get the exact same style for all 30 robots. We wanted to see what students could do. We gave them some simple tips and building ideas, but I was amazed by all the awesome designs. I loved launching camp this way because I was able to learn so much about the kids as well as learn some very creative ways of building.

At the end of the day I was so happy with the results. Our fastest robot was 2.51 seconds. That is moving considering the robot could not start until the touch sensor was suppressed. You can see some of the results in the video below.

Not all groups had success with finishing the dragster. I do not view that as failure. They learned so much through their problem solving skills. One thing I realized today is that students need more opportunities where they are not given step by step instruction, but parameters and support to make their own ideas come alive. Students had to learn to overcome frustration when their ideas did not work. I firmly believe in the fact that they learn so much from these moments compared to simply being told the answer.

I am so excited to come back for day 2. What I witnessed today was 60 amazing kids doing amazing things in the summer. All of this hard work will pay off for them. I could not be more proud as a coach and instructor of this camp. These kids amaze me and provide me such motivation to continue teaching.

**Thank you to Ian Chow-Miller and Damien Kee for tips they have shared that I have used in preparing as well as everyone that is part of Lego Engineering who have all taught me quite a bit in becoming a better teacher.**

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New LEGO EV3 Book Idea – Want To Help?

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 7.37.56 AMThis week and last week I have been helping students learn how to program with LEGO EV3 software. They work and work and along the way I show them tips and ideas. What amazes me is how much the software has to offer and how many times students don’t take time to explore.

One of the ideas that came to me this week is that students don’t know what the program is capable of and therefore they don’t explore. If they knew the power of the programming I think they would dive deeper.

Which lead me to my new book idea.

I am working through some details of a new book idea I came up with while teaching LEGO EV3 during my camp. One thing that I think is missing to helping students take programming to a whole new level is a manual that contains every single block. The book would break down the software block by block. Each page would contain an overview of a block and then a breakdown of each mode and parameter for that block. Finally, there would be an example of code to show them how the block could be used. As I work with students they over complicate things by not realizing the potential of the programming. Basically, a whole catalog of every option available with the software in a book format so they could search and find what they need.

So…….

I think this would be a great book idea where I would love to collaborate with anyone who would be interested. I started sketching a template that we could use for each block and would love to get moving on this before FLL season begins. I really think it could be a powerful tool for students and teachers to learn more.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Interested in joining? Shoot me an email at aarmau (at) gmail.com or respond here.

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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 2: Perseverance and Program Challenge #2

Here is another episode of myself and Coffeechug Jr. working with Sphero again. We are once again examining programming with a 9 year old. He had to work quite hard to figure this one out. The goal was to start out going straight, turn around the block and finish in the box. Simple in design, but when you first start programming he had to learn a few key things about keeping track of past trials, reducing the amount of change in each run(placement of Sphero, same setup, realigning, etc.)

This was another great moment for me to watch with him. Much of what he was going through was the exact same with my First Lego League teams when we talk about how to develop consistent and accurate routines and setups.

After a long journey of trial and error in which he stuck with it, he made it happen.

Off to challenge 3 this weekend.

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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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