Help Needed: Robotics Triathlon Ideas

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Clint Hamada

I’ve been thinking for a while about how I’m going to structure my upcoming (and first ever) robotics unit here at YIS. The other night, as I was laying in bed around midnight, I had a spark of inspiration.

First, a little backstory…

Last year we purchased 10 EV3 kits and decided the best starting place was to introduce a middle school activity. The kids who participated really got into it and we did well at our local Robo Sumo Friendly, sweeping the the top 3 places! We’ve continued the middle school activity this year and have our sights set on the next round of Sumo!

Last year I also attended the EARCOS Weekend Workshop on Robotics at TAS and have been thinking long and hard how I can incorporate units of robotics into our MYP Design classes (rather than full-on robotics classes). We are limited by space and resources here at YIS and are trying to find ways to get our foot in the door of robotics.

I have just ordered another 14 core kits, which should give me enough robots to put Grade 9 students into of 3 or 4.

I’ve been looking for a way for students to be able to work both collaboratively and independently. My initial thought was to have each group build a simple base robot (such as the Riley Rover) and then get each member to write their own programs to complete a quest. I could never quite sort it all out in my head though.

Back to my idea…

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Clint Hamada

Last night I thought about creating a team challenge. (I’m still not 100% sure how I will assess it in the MYP flavor, so don’t ask me about that yet!). What if the students competed in a Robotics Triathlon? Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • The three events will be based on speed (a timed 10 meter drag race), strength (a mini sumo tournament), and intelligence (completing an unknown maze challenge).
    • The speed challenge will be focused on engineering and using gear ratios to improve performance.
    • The strength challenge will be focused on design, possible use of gears to improve torque, and simple programming to stay on the board and to seek out opponents.
    • The intelligence challenge will be focused on programming and using the sensors in combination.
  • Each team will work to design three variations of the base robot for each event.
  • Each team will work to code three programs for each event.
  • Each team will be given access to the full array of sensors (ultrasonic, touch, color, gyro) and motors (2 large, 1 medium) to use as the wish.
  • A scoring system will be devised to determine a class champion. Since I teach three sections, we can then have a Tournament of Champions at lunchtime once the class champions are determined.
  • For the final evaluation, teams will need to give a 5 – 10 minute presentation on their robot, their design and programming choices, and what they would do differently now that they are done.

It’s still not a fully fledged unit, so I need your help. Can you give me any suggestions or feedback on the events that I’ve chosen? Any ideas on how I could assess this, both as a group grade and as individual grades? Any links to resources that I might find useful, or that my students can use to help build and program their bots? I’ve still got a few weeks but your help is greatly appreciated!

Thanks to the conversations that I’ve already had on Twitter. Frank Hua has suggested some sort of robot soccer game (possibly controlled via the iPad EV3 app) and Geoff Derry has suggested a color block challenge. Jeff Layman is in on the maze idea and I’m interested to hear what he’s done in his MYP classes with the EV3s.

The Dragon’s Arcade

The Dragon’s Arcade

When I started at YIS, I knew there were certain things I wanted to get involved with: 3D printing; robotics; programming. I’m happy to say that, after my first year, all three of those things are well on their way!

At the start of the second semester, my Grade 9 students embarked on a journey to learn some basics of programming. Most of them had never even considered coding and were only introduced to it through the Hour of Code. There were a few who had taught themselves the basics of JavaScript, and a few others who had taken a course at a previous school or at a summer camp. By and large though, we were all novices!

We started with the question “How can we create a simple computer game that keeps the needs of the user in mind?” I really wanted to focus on the concept of designing for the user rather than the creator so I came up with the idea of creating educational computer games for the students in our Kindergarten. You can read a detailed version of the process that we went through in order to complete this unit on my school blog. One of the highlights of the process was bringing  the Grade 9 students into the Kindergarten to interview their potential clients and get an idea of what they were learning and what their interests were. There is nothing better than seeing the interaction between the high school and lower elementary students in your school!

The culminating celebration for this project was The Dragon’s Arcade. We invited all of the Kindergarten and Grade 1 students up to the high school to play the games that the students have spent the last 2 months creating. There were math games, spelling games, telling time games, music games, art games, all kinds of games! (I’ve add all of them to a Scratch Studio if you want to check them out.) It was a great opportunity for the Grade 9s to celebrate their learning and their creations.

I’m now wondering, besides repeating this unit again next year, what’s next? Where do we go from here in order to build on this experience? App building? Arduino/Pi programming? Any and all suggestions are welcome!

I’ve added a few photos of the day here. You can also check out the entire album on Google+. Below the photos, I’ve embedded a couple of games that I was really impressed with. If you get a chance, it would be great if you could leave them a comment or two! (You can find all the games here.)

Shin shares his game

 

A table of fun!
Rohan helps a Grade 1 student
Jennifer shares with the kindergarteners


The Math Tower


Underwater Music Quest


Baseball Math