Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What is Robotics for Grandparents?

"Robotics for Grandparents" is the name of a six-week course I'm teaching at the Academy of Learning In Retirement (ALIR). ALIR is a Continuing Education program of the North East Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas.

The purpose of the course is to let grandparents understand and enjoy what their grandkids are doing with Lego Mindstorms robots.

Class meetings are on Wednesday at 1:00 PM, and each class lasts 75 minutes. The first class is September 16, 2009.

The course participants will learn some elementary robotic skills, using the Lego Mindstorms NXT 1.1 kit. Our lesson plans will be taken from the Carnegie Mellon University web site.

Current enrollment in the class stands at 19 people. I had originally intended to limit the class to 8 people, because I had only one Mindstorms NXT kit for the students to use. When I found that the enrollment was up to 19, I had to reconsider some things. I purchased one additional Mindstorms kit, for later donation to a local elementary school, and I was able to secure the loan of a third kit from another school's Robotics Club. With three kits available, I can break the class into two groups of six and one group of seven.

ALIR is providing a classroom (the Art Room), which has plenty of table space for robot work, and which includes a computer, projector, and pull-down screen. Since the students will be programming and testing the robots during most of the class, I'll need to provide laptop computers. I have three laptops available, so there will be one laptop per group.

The first class meeting will be used for familiarization with the Mindstorms NXT robotic elements: sensors, computer, motors, and development software. The groups will be given a simple task for the robot to perform: move in a straight line for a specified distance.

I plan to update this blog at least once a week until the end of the course.

Questions and comments are most welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. O'Brien,
    Thanks for visiting our school and including us in your Blog. Good luck with your course and thanks again for your guidance. I know your grandparents will just love robotics!