Thursday, December 23, 2010

Plan for future course

For the past two years, I have not included any bot-building in the Robotics for Grandparents course.  I have found a good starter robot design that may just do the trick.  I'll be using the SPOT design from James Floyd Kelly's excellent book, "Lego Mindstorms NXT-G Programming Guide".  The students (each team) will get a bag of parts and a photocopy of the build instructions for SPOT.  I have found that having the parts pre-picked saves a lot of time.

On the right you see a picture of SPOT from the book.  Between now and next September I will tinker with SPOT and see how he fits in with my class lab exercises.

Monday, December 13, 2010

EP Robotics Club

I went to the Encino Park Robotics Club meeting on Friday.  The kids were preparing for the January competition held by Texas Computer Education Association.  They have a difficult problem to solve, but I think they will do fine.  The field is set up with 5 cans of Big Red placed in randomly selected places on a circle, and the task is to push as many as possible to the wall.  This means the kids need to anticipate the locations of the cans and deal with the randomness somehow.  I was impressed by how well they demonstrated they could solve the problem and get a good score.

You can see a video of last year's contest at

The competition is in New Braunfels on January 8th.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 6 - finale

Today we had no lab, so I was traveling light.  I talked about real-world applications of robots, from military and police, to home, medical, and space.  I had intended to show some more video (we had some good short videos last week), but Mike Henry came with robots to show, so I passed out the "diplomas" and introduced him to the class.  Mike gave a nice presentation of the various school robotics programs in San Antonio, including First Robotics, First Tech, First Lego League, BEST, and GEAR.  He had some video to show how lively the competitions get.  As a small honorarium, I presented Mike with a Lego Designer Tool Set.

LEGO Designer Tool Set D5AD6338