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.

GEEK is the Word!

Cross posted from EdTech@UNISHanoi
Getting Ready to Geek!

On Wednesday we held our 3rd Annual SpeedGeeking session (previous post here). Like I said in an email to all the teachers, this is my favorite day of the year! SpeedGeeking is an opportunity for our teachers to learn, celebrate, socialize, and hopefully get inspired.

In the past, speedgeeking has been a highly orchestrated affair, involving different rotations, various groups and multiple locations. At the end of it, there were a lot of teachers with glazed-over eyes, scratchy throats and full brains! This year, we decided to simplify: 18 presentations divided into two rooms, groups were made at random and on-the-fly (the ol’ pick-a-number-out-of-the-hat trick) and each group only went through one room. Each presentation was 7 minutes long with about 20 seconds to rotate to each new station.

After a delicious mid-afternoon snack, we had about 45 minutes to just sit and digest, both the food and what we’d just seen! In addition to all the great ideas they had just seen, we were able to talk with our colleagues about what happened in the other room. We’re hoping this can help spark conversations for months to come.

A huge THANK YOU! to all of the presenters who shared a small bit of their teaching practice with us. Without you all, an event like this could never be successful!

Below is a list of all 18 presentation topics. If you were a presenter and would like me to link to anything, let me know. If you want to learn any more about any of these topics, the presenters are good people to start that conversation with!

  • Research Better with Social Bookmarking (Diigo) – Kelsey G.
  • Using Edcanvas as a presentation tool – Jan H.
  • Flubaroo – Neil F.
  • Mixcraft with Elementary students – Sally O.
  • Coach’s Eye – Mel H.
  • Class sites with Google Sites – John G.
  • Class blogs – Jen P.
  • Digital Ads using Photostory – Jennifer K.
  • G8 Drama animation/movie – Anne Marie D.
  • VoiceThread/Animoto – Abigail L.
  • ThreeRing in ECC – Andy D.
  • Scribble Maps – John H.
  • Using Prezi – Simon N.
  • Pecha Kucha w/ students – Susan C.
  • Copying and Copyright in the Creative Classroom – Michelle W.
  • Learning Numeracy (and Coding) using Scratch – Mindy S.
  • Robotics – Mags M.
  • “Cutting out Kids” with Photoshop – Chris F.