Friday, December 30, 2005

Back in GEAR!

Happy New Year
January is crunch time! All of my students have very important ELA exams on the seventeenth. You also have our biggest event of the year- the First Lego League Ocean Oddyssey Challenge.

You will probably experience some pressure during January. We all feel pressure. We have to learn how to handle pressure and anxiety in life. Stress is another name for this stuff. Some people like pressure. It makes them perform better. They like deadlines. It helps to motivate them.

Some people do not like pressure. Stress makes them feel overwhelmed. That makes them feel like doing nothing. They work better without all of the anxiety that deadlines and test dates bring. Everyone is different. But as we get older and get more education and more resonsibility, we will get more stress, more pressure and experience more anxiety.

What can we do about it? Everyone will have to develop their own way of dealing with stress and deadlines. Personally, when I was younger I had really bad techniques for dealing with pressure. I would do nothing and procrastinate until the last minute. That created more stress and the work I produced was not as good as it could have been if I had done a little bit at a time.

Now I plan better.
I write out lists and make smaller chunks of things to do.
I also take breaks and exercise.
I try to get enough sleep and rest.
I try to eat healthy food.
And lastly:
I have to balance what my priorities are.

The balance idea is hard. For my students, balance means you can't drop everything else except the ELA test prep. You still have other subjects and other things gong on in your lives that you can not neglect. Yet, there are some important things coming up that you have give a little more effort to. Try to come up with some way of balancing what you have to do.

Maybe you want to comment about everything you have to do in January. I would like to hear from all of my students.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wednesday Wipeout Results

Last week was so much fun and we all learned so much from the added stress of the timer.

So, we have decided to have a weekly timed competition with a new name every week. Last week was the "Smack Down." This week was the Wednesday Wipeout."

Today's results:
  • Galileo run by Daniel 190 pts
  • Coaches run by Mr. Daly 119 pts
  • Cassini run by Gary 86 pts

The earlier part of the session was a riot. We all tuned up our Skype accounts to practice for communicating with our teammates in Spain. So we sat around a big table and Skyped each other. We had conference calls and conference chats going simultaneously- great fun! I posted a challenge "Send a picture file of a Lego gear to everyone in the chat." Skype functions allow file transferring, so first everyone had to search in Google images, then save to the My Pictures folder, and finally Send File. What a total panic! We all got it going but it was chaos because a window pops up for every file sent to each chat member and a window for every file received from every other chat member --so there was a whole bunch of windows going on! Uploading, downloading--crazy! Now we all know how to create conference calls, send files, chat and exchange information. I love this job.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Queens Lego Robotics Competition

What a day! The First Lego League held the Borough of Queens Lego Robotics Competition Saturday, December 17th, 2005. Dozens of schools representing many neighborhoods of Queens showed up early carrying kits, bags of snacks, laptops, spare parts and robots.

Six dedicated members of the I.S.93 team showed with 3 parental units in tow! That was great because parents' are part of our team. My team had "the nerves." Gary and Robert took a bit too long to upgrade to fresh batteries and learned first hand about losing firmware in the RCX. That means they had to reload firmware, which should only take 4 minutes. The laptops display screen malfunctioned so another laptop had to be used. That took many minutes to reboot over and over. The nerves grew worse! Then the firmware gets re-loaded. Done. Next we used a flash drive to get the RCX's original code off the malfunctioning laptop. Since opening a .vi file from Robolab directly from clicking on the file is not an option, the files had to be copied deep into the program vault file, which was very time consuming. Next they read an error message that said we could not load files from a newer version of Robolab into a RCX with older firmware! That meant we loaded the wrong version of the firmware from an un-upgraded computer. Luckily we had a third laptop with compatible firmware and their files with their missions were tediously loaded into the brick again. Gary and Robert were very disappointed by all of that frustrating troubleshooting but the fact is they got it done and competed and did their best to accomplish missions. They even managed to score more points than some of the other schools.

Way to go! That kind of knowledge can not be taught- it's only to be gained by experienced.

Next, Gabby and Daniel did a great job with running their 'bot's missions. The spectators and Gabby's mom cheered when they brought the container to the base during the round. I was very proud of their performances because they showed concentration, a great attitude and scored lots and lots of points! They communicated their strategies over and over to ensure the predictable performance of the robot. The teamwork they showed was noticed by many observers.

The success of their robot was due to several factors which we focus on everyday during Lego Roboitcs at I.S. 93: Compact Robust Design, Flexibility in Design and Programming, Teamwork, Adaptablility, and On-The-Fly Problem Solving. All of these concepts were combined to produce a successful and FUN day of competing.

I was very proud of Daniel and Gabby. They showed enthusiasm and clever planning!

Lastly, Robert and Eugene scored the most points of any school's rounds at the tournament. That earned the I.S. 93 team first place in the competition. Their second round yielded the highest points which was the result of really excellent aiming and concise planning that was enhanced by constant strategizing, feedback and communication.

It is difficult to describe how I feel as a coach during these competitions. But the whole robotics experience makes me very proud. Region 4, NYCBOE supplied the training and resources. Steve Shapinsky and Norm Scott set up the tournament and was staffed by scores of adult volunteers and Long Island City HIgh School student volunteers. Our parents came and supported our students. My kids had every challenge and problem a poor robot could throw at them. They competed with poise and grace. We ate together, cheered together and had intense nervous stomachs together. I am blessed to be involved with such a program and I want to thank every single person there who competed, showed up, volunteered, cleaned up, referreed, mentored or who had anything else to do with the program.

A special thanks to Terry Bader for having the foresight to seek the funds and deliver a comprehensive robotics program region wide.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cassini WorkGroup Mastering Design

Gary and Eric of the Cassini WorkGroup are demonstrating the slding action of their Robot.
Gary say," The hardest part of building this sliding arm was getting the pieces to touch the touch sensor the way we wanted."

When asked what was the importance of the touch sensor, Eric said, " When the bar pushes the touch sensor, we have it programmed for the motor to run back and forth. That's what makes the slider go back and forth."

They reportedly plan to knock flags over and connect the pipeline and protect the pump with this mechanism in the Ocean Odysey Challenge.

You can see them demonstrating the sliding bar here.

Smackdown Lego Challenge!!

Today at 4:oopm the long awaited Lego Smackdown happens. Mr. Wright/Mr. Daly take on the work groups to practice for competing at the FLL tournament.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Recurring Problems-New Solutions

Hi Everyone,

Several work groups are experiencing the same problems. Some of these problems include, but are not limited to:

-Difficulty traveling in a straight line.
-Turning the exact desired distance or angle.
-Traveling a very precise distance.

When you experience any or all of these three problems you will find that accomplishing ANY mission will seem impossible.

Your group will not likely score any points until you master the ability to get your robot to go across the game field and end up where the mission is set up for you to complete.

Some groups have overcome turning issues by using pivoting wheels- Good idea! Ask the Galileo group how they got their two-pivot design to straighten up. They used the advice of Dr. Antreasian, our mentor, to design in flexiblity. Galilieo uses a two-pivot robot to turn accurately to attempt several missions. They have a hard time getting it to go really straight for some other mission. They have solved this problem with a simple but brilliant solution. Find out what they did.

One last thing today: You may want to change your way of thinking about the following idea. "My robot has a front end and a back end." On Wednesday, you will see a demonstration of letting go of this concept when you see the Mr. Wright/Mr. Daly robot perform in the Wednesday Student Teacher Smackdown MiniChallenge!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

This Week:

Hello Everyone,

This is an important week for Lego Robotics at I.S.93. We have a practice tournament Saturday, December 17th from 9:00am to 2:00pm.

We need to look at this match as a dress rehearsal. This match will be like the FLL meet in January. There will be many rounds. You will be nervous. Things will happen. We have to depend on our brain power to plan, execute our game plan and then most importantly we will have to be able to adapt. We have the smarts to re-build and re-program right on the spot as conditions require. That is our strength as a team and will be the most stressful thing to accomplish.

They do not give awards for the team that enjoys themselves the most but I want to have fun doing this. I plan on having fun! I am very proud of our progress as a team. I hope you are planning to have fun- I do not want it to be an accident.

Last thing. All parents are invited. Ideally for me, there would be at least one parent for every student present. So ask them to come.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Explore Europa with a Robotic Sub!

Photo Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

You guys gave great close guesses. The picture taken by the Galileo spacecraft as it flew by Europa is very similar to those taken in the Artic and Antarctic regions of Earth. The large structures in the picture resemble large ice rafts or icebergs that have broken apart and moved around. The stuff in the middle or between these ice rafts looks like the surface of an ocean that has repeatibly melted and froze many times. Scientists believe "it resembles the disruption of pack-ice on polar seas during spring thaws on Earth" (quoted from JPL webpage). This surface is indeed made up mostly of water ice. Doesn't it look like the surface of a liquid which has become frozen? The lines criss-crossing everywhere are believed to be cracks produced by the pressure exerted on the surface from the tugging by Jupiter's gravity.

These processes on Europa's surface are an extremely important finding for scientists. This image suggests that Europa has an ocean of water lying just beneath this icy surface. It also suggests that Europa has an internal heat source which helps keep the ocean from staying completely frozen. And where you have water and heat, what may you find?


Scientists believe its possible that Europa may harbor extraterrestial life forms in its oceans.

Now there are plans to send a spacecraft back to Jupiter to study Europa in more detail. Ultimately, scientists would like to probe beneath the ice and into this ocean with a Robotic Submarine, but such a mission is extremely expensive and technically challenging.

Will you students be the ones to design that robot when you are older?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Galileo's Success is due to Redundancy & Flexibility in its Design

Photo Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Wow! I'm impressed with the Galileo Group's research into the Galileo mission.

Here a picture of the surface of Europa (second closest major moon of Jupiter). Apart from other evidence, this image shows why scientist believe there's an ocean beneath Europa's surface. What do you think it shows?

This may be beyond the scope of the Lego Ocean Odyssey challenge, but its something you may want to think about when you are designing your robots.

The success of the Galileo mission at Jupiter was due to 2 important design elements that everyone should try to plan into their robot designs. Galileo had redundant systems for critical functions and a versatile computer that was capable of being reprogrammed from Earth.

The Galileo mission was designed to send high volumes of data over its high gain antenna from Jupiter. This antenna was suppose to unfold like an umbrella, from its stowed position after the spacecraft was on its way to Jupiter. However, a few of the pins that held the ribs of the umbrella-shape antenna became permanently stuck and thus the antenna could not open. Fortunately, Galileo also had a redundant low gain antenna, but the rate of data sent back to Earth was only a trickle. The comparison is like the slow drip of a faucet to buckets full of data being sent back to Earth.

To make use of this 'slower' antenna, engineers had to redesign the entire mission with this lower data rate in mind. They programmed algorithms to compress or shrink the size of the images without losing too much information. This helped Galileo send thousands of pictures which otherwise would have been impossible. Furthermore, with the high gain antenna, the spacecraft would essentially relay the images to the ground as they were being shuttered. However, this would not work with the low gain antenna. For the low gain mission, engineers made good use of Galileo's tape recorder. Data from the close observations of the Jupiter's moons were compressed and recorded on the tape recorder. Then the data was read out into the telemetry stream and modulated onto the radio signal sent back to Earth. So the tape recorder was essentially a redundant system for handling the data and its return to Earth.

Now, with the tape recorder becoming a vital part of the redesigned mission, we could not let it fail. Our precise navigation requirements for entering into orbit around Jupiter required us to take optical navigation images of Jupiter's moons. But on the final approach to Jupiter, the tape recorder's tape became stuck. I believe it was pretty much like glued to the tape head. Without these images, Galileo's orbit insertion did not meet the requirements needed to stay on our planned orbital tour of Jupiter. Faced with this possibility beforehand however, we came up with a plan to change the first orbit around Jupiter according to the miss distance from our target and eventually reconnect the orbit to the planned tour. A few months after orbit insertion, the engineers were able to figure a way to unstick the tape and get it working again. They had to be very careful since it would have been very easy to break the tape. Luckily, they had a spare tape recorder at JPL to verify the problem, test their ideas on and verify the fix. According to my memory, this problem happened 3 or 4 more times during Galileo's mission.

I won't go on and on, but there were a few other major problems that Galileo experienced. Despite these problems, engineers and scientists were able to overcome them by making use of Galileo's redundant systems and by reprogramming it from many 100's of millions of miles away. When you can only afford to build one spacecraft and send it to Jupiter, you need to provide your spacecraft with backup systems and allow flexibility in the design of its computer and how it interacts with all its subsystems to control the vehicle.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Galileo Group

The Galileo group chose their name after doing research on the NASA site--Great choice!
They also produced a great bulletin board describing the NASA Galileo mission. I learned so much about the project. I was very suprised the group went so in-depth to find the group name. Well done.

Picture Credit:

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Complex Programs: Using Segments

I like to borrow techniques that other people come up with to solve problems.

So I have applied the Math Problem Solving Technique of "Make it Simpler" to help me make a large overwhelming problem a series of smaller, more managable segments.

Yesterday in class, we discussed how this idea works. Please post a comment describing the mini-steps you might use to get your robot to the submarine and back to the base.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rotation Sensor Angle Sensor

Here is a picture of one of the Lego sensors known as an Angle Sensor or a Rotation Sensor. Notice the hole in it. That's where an axle fits.

Here is how it works. The sensor senses the rotating axle. It counts in little steps a sixteenth at a time. When the sensor port displays 16 it is telling you that the axle rotated one full revolution.

So to make the sensor useful to all of us future engineers, we can measure the distance we want to go by using the "View" feature on the RCX. Then in Robolab, we enter the numerical value we took from View and enter that value into numerical input on the sensor icon in the code. Small adjustments are made after some trial and error for that mission. This becomes a very acurate method to measure distance.

The Angle Sensor gets that name versus Rotation Sensor from this: Since the sensor counts in small bits at time and those bits are equal and there are sixteen of them, people who know these characteristics divide the 360 degrees of rotation by the sixteen bits and now can measure angles. Each increment of that division problem yields 22.5 degrees- Very helpful when using an Angle Sensor on a motor for an arm. Two counts is 45 degrees. Four makes 90 degrees and so on.

Does this give you any ideas?- if so post a comment. Use rules of regular English like Capital Letters! These posts are getting sloppy. This is a forum for intellectual exchange between students and teachers. It is not a place for AOL lingo. I want your comments- not slang.

Keep in mind this is the WorldWideWeb- anyone, anywhere may read this. Your potential audience is anyone in the world with internet connectivity. You are known only by what and how you write. If you write nonsense- well, there you go. BUT! So many of you write such execellent comments. We get very good feedback about your participation. That makes me so proud of all of you!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More Training at ITHS Election Day

More training! Lucky me. The Region 4, NYCBOE guys Norm and Steve are at it again.
You see me and Norm working out an angle-sensor problem on my 'Bot. Their training techniques are "hands-on" which means they are having the teachers try to score points on an Ocean Odyssey board just like you.

I am trying to get the 'Bot to move the Reef to shallow water and then move up the Barge to get the Research Submarine. What challenge are you working on. What's next?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gears, Gear Trains 11-3-05

Gears can be confusing! Today in class we had a great experience discussing,predicting, observing and making conclusions about the simplest of gear ideas.

We found out that when a 40 tooth gear turns for one revolution that the 8 tooth gear will turn 5 times. We then used that idea of gear ratio to discuss bicycle gears in relation to speed, effort, and power. We'll discuss some other concepts like torque in the near future.

What a day! I think several students were not very clear about how the ratios work. Now I think we made progress. We will do more demonstrations with gears and wheel size. The demonstration with the two robots with identical gears going different speeds due to different wheel size was an eye-opener too!

Any thoughts about todays demonstrations or ideas for further discussion?
How about just telling me one simple thing you learned today?
I would like a comment from every student.


Lego Constructopedia Explains Gears!


This site has great moving graphics to help you understand gears and pulleys!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Try this one.

Write in an English sentence what this code will make the robot do. I wrote this last year.

Hint: The answer to a Yogi Berra riddle would be "Pick it up."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Agenda week of 10-31-05

There are three main priorities for Lego this week.

One will focusing on advancing our programming skills coupled with ROBUST DESIGN building.

The last will be the completing the set up of the Ocean Odyssey Challenge table.

I would like you to post a comment about this simple program.
Tell me in an English sentence what this piece of code will make a Robot do.

Naming our Sub Groups

We spoke about re-naming our sub-groups last week. I did not put much thought to the original names mainly because they work. Your groups are called Talent1, Talent2- functional but boring. I thought it might be fun for you to come up with names on your own. I thought it also might be a sneaky way for me to get you to explore the NASA site if I suggested that you take group names from the spaces vehicles or moons of planets from the NASA pages. Names like "The Titans" or "Eon" sound really neat. It would show me you went the sites, read the material, and it would honor our mentor.

Many of the photographs from space are there because of the work of our mentor, Dr. Antreasian.

A word about teams: We have one team for Lego Robotics. We will compete together as one unit. While we are learning to build and program we will work in smaller sub-groups. We will all learn more from each other and we will all find certain roles within our team. By working together, we will be able to bring much brain power to bear on our challenges. I will change members of the sub-groups often. The purpose of this is for us to really get to know each other well. It is also my way of getting slower groups going by bringing in more experienced students and if a group is strong, the new member might need to benefit from the new group's expertise. By constantly changing group members and groups, students will be forced to adapt and also to both teach and learn in a new situation for MAXIMUM achievement!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Mentor News

Definitions of mentor on the Web:

to serve as a teacher or trusted counselor; "The famous professor mentored him during his years in graduate school"
a wise and trusted guide and advisor

In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alcumus and, in his old age, a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War, he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus and his palace.

We have a new mentor for Lego Robotics at IS 93. I will tell you we went to Brebuef High School together. I will tell you he has an amazingly interesting job.

Peter Antreasian is his name. He will tell you about himself. I am very grateful to have him bring his experience and wisdom to our Lego Robotics team.

What is going to make our Club/Mentor slightly different than a traditional mentor relationship is that Peter Antreasian will mentor us from afar! We will use internet technology to communicate. Blogging, email, maybe, digital photography and who-knows-what-else will be used.


Wednesday Lego Progress

Hey guys,

Today was great. First of all:
•Many students came up during their lunch period to work on websites.
To seek out extra time to work on things you want to work shows great interest and motivation. Keep it up!
•During class, much progress was made on the Robolab programs.
You know, we do not always have to hit a grandslam Homerun. We need singles to make progress. ( Baseball World
Series -type lingo) In other words several students learned KEY tools in Robolab like the right-click- replace trick for
replacing an icon in the program line instead of deleting it, adding a new icon, and then re-wiring. That was a
tremendous time saving tool and shows progress in learning to be fluent in the Robolab program.

•Many new students have joined the Beacon Afterschool Lego activity. For the class groups, you may notice progress has been made on your project that you did not do yourself- it was not alien elves!
TEAMWORK is what we call this. As a group, we can accomplish more. Yes, many can do much alone- but together, the
sky is limit. (More on this later.)

•Ricky and Serge, two new sixth grade Beacon kids, have completed construction of the "Pipeline" mission which is part of the FLL Ocean Odyssey Challenge. You know how hard these are to construct. These two came up and in two days finished it.
Great job.

I want to see comments to this post from my Robotics kids. I want to read how your progress is going.
Friday is not Beacon. You will need a written, signed note from your parent to attend Friday, Robotics Club. We will meet
from dismissal to 5:00pm. I will give you my cell phone number so your parents can contact you by calling me in class for early pick-ups.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mr. Wright's Saturday Morning in Brooklyn

This is John and Corey from Visions Education.
These guys are two of the experts who help train other coaches like me. They train me- I train you!

They are testing a 'Bot on the Ocean Odessey Challenge game board. The training is taking place right now. I am working on a program to do the Dolphin challenge.
This is taking place at PolyTech University and is sponsored by Region 4 Technology.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Scientific Method

Hey everybody,
Today was an amazing day in class.

Here is a partial list of the activities all or some of you started, continued, or completed today during a 42 minute class period.

1. Built Simple-Bots
2. Initialized RCX
3. Loaded Robolab into Laptops
4. Programmed Robolab for 2' up and back Challenge
5. Put batteries into RCX
6. Loaded .vi Inventer program into RCX
7. Tested Simple-Bot
8. Entered the 5 steps of the Scientific Method into your Lego Journals.
9. Surfed Lego Blog

I am very happy to see so many more students adding data, observations, test results, hypothesis, predictions and other entries today. Keep up the good work!!!!!

Please, someone post the Scientific Method as I have it on the bulletin board in room 301. I think it will be a great addition to the Blog. I will allow you to use my admin id to create a fresh post.

Tomorrow! Great news! The user id's and passwords are working for your websites. I hate to take you away from continuing the challenge tomorrow so I may have only 12 of you working on your new websites. The other members of the Talent Crews will do all 9 activities listed above. You know what needs to be done.

***********Major recognition for the Talent6 group- You are the first group to build, initialize, program, load and test your bot! I think you are probably surprised that you came so far so quick. AND you entered everything into your journals! Hey everybody, that's what it looks like to get a 100% for the day. Excellent job!

If you care to comment today, please share how your activities are going, you know, problems you had, insights you came up with. Things like that.

See you.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

LegoRobotics Blog Challenge

Challenge to my students:
Pick one of the Science Standards I have posted below by browsing through them. Do any of seem like they were written for Robotics? I think so. See if you can write a comment to this post describing how LegoRobotics meets a specific standard. In other words, I can see direct correlations, one after the other, of how the problems of LegoRootics hits many many NYS Learning Standards for Science. Can you?

Pick one standard and tell how you see one specific thing about Robotics hits exactly that standard and is met by doing the aspects of Robitics you thought about.

You have to think about how we go about doing Robotics. You have to think about the Standards as you read them on the blog posting. Then you have to write how they are same thing. Got it?

Read the Blog.
Comment as described above. No last names- no personal info- No talking to or meeting of strangers-EVER!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

7th Grade Science Standards NYS

Science Standards for NY, Grade 7

Analysis, Inquiry and Design: Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.

Scientific Inquiry: The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing, creative process.

Students formulate questions independently with the aid of references appropriate for guiding the search for explanations of everyday observations.

Students represent, present, and defend their proposed explanations of everyday observations so that they can be understood and assessed by others.

Students seek to clarify, to assess critically, and to reconcile with their own thinking the ideas presented by others, including peers, teachers, authors, and scientists.

Scientific Inquiry: Beyond the use of reasoning and consensus, scientific inquiry involves the testing of proposed explanations involving the use of conventional techniques and procedures and usually requiring considerable ingenuity.

Students use conventional techniques and those of their own design to make further observations and refine their explanations, guided by a need for more information.

Students develop, present, and defend formal research proposals for testing their own explanations of common phenomena, including ways of obtaining needed observations and ways of conducting simple controlled experiments.

Students carry out their research proposals, recording observations and measurements (e.g., lab notes, audio tape, computer disk, video tape) to help assess the explanation.

Scientific Inquiry: The observations made while testing proposed explanations, when analyzed using conventional and invented methods, provide new insights into phenomena.

Students design charts, tables, graphs and other representations of observations in conventional and creative ways to help them address their research question or hypothesis.

Students interpret the organized data to answer the research question or hypothesis and to gain insight into the problem.

Students modify their personal understanding of phenomena based on evaluation of their hypothesis.

Mathematical Analysis: Abstraction and symbolic representation are used to communicate mathematically.

Students extend mathematical notation and symbolism to include variables and algebraic expressions in order to describe and compare quantities and express mathematical relationships.

Mathematical Analysis: Deductive and inductive reasoning are used to reach mathematical conclusions.

Students use inductive reasoning to construct, evaluate, and validate conjectures and arguments, recognizing that patterns and relationships can assist in explaining and extending mathematical phenomena.

Mathematical Analysis: Critical thinking skills are used in the solution on mathematical problems.

Students apply mathematical knowledge to solve real-world problems that arise from the investigation of mathematical ideas, using representations such as pictures, charts, and tables.

Engineering Design: Engineering design is an iterative process involving modeling and optimization finding the best solution within given constraints which is used to develop the logical solutions to problems within given constraints.

Students identify needs and opportunities for technical solutions from an investigation of situations of general or social interest.

Students locate and utilize a range of printed, electronic, and human information resources to obtain ideas.

Students consider constraints and generate several ideas for alternative solutions, using group and individual ideation techniques (group discussion, brainstorming, forced connections, role play); defer judgment until a number of ideas have been generated; evaluate (critique) ideas; and explain why the chosen solution is optimal.

Students develop plans, including drawings with measurements and details of construction, and construct a model of the solution, exhibiting a degree of craftsmanship.

Students, in a group setting, test their solution against design specifications, present and evaluate results, describe how the solution might have been modified for different or better results, and discuss trade-offs that might have to be made.

Information Systems: Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

Information Systems: Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information and as a tool to enhance learning.

Students use a range of equipment and software to integrate several forms of information in order to create good quality audio, video, graphic, and text-based presentations.

Students use spreadsheets and database software to collect, process, display, and analyze information. Students access needed information from electronic databases and on-line telecommunication services.

Students collect data from probes to measure events and phenomena.

Students use simple modeling programs to make predictions.

Information Systems: Knowledge of the impacts and limitations of information systems is essential to its effective and ethical use.

Students understand the need to question the accuracy of information displayed on a computer because the results produced by a computer may be affected by incorrect data entry.

Students identify advantages and limitations of data-handling programs and graphics programs.

Students understand why electronically stored personal information has greater potential for misuse than records kept in conventional form.

Information Systems: Information technology can have positive and negative impacts on society, depending upon how it is used.

Students use graphical, statistical, and presentation software to presents project to fellow classmates.

Students describe applications of information technology in mathematics, science, and other technologies that address needs and solve problems in the community.

Students explain the impact of the use and abuse of electronically generated information on individuals and families.

The Physical Setting: Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

The Earth and celestial phenomena can be described by principles of relative motion and perspective.

Students explain daily, monthly, and seasonal changes on earth.

Many of the phenomena that we observe on Earth involve interactions among components of air, water, and land.

Students explain how the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), and lithosphere (land) interact, evolve, and change.

Students describe volcano and earthquake patterns, the rock cycle, and weather and climate changes.

Matter is made up of particles whose properties determine the observable characteristics of matter and its reactivity.

Students observe and describe properties of materials, such as density, conductivity, and solubility.

Students distinguish between chemical and physical changes.

Students develop their own mental models to explain common chemical reactions and changes in states of matter.

Energy exists in many forms, and when these forms change energy is conserved.

Students describe the sources and identify the transformations of energy observed in everyday life.

Students observe and describe heating and cooling events.

Students observe and describe energy changes as related to chemical reactions.

Students observe and describe the properties of sound, light, magnetism, and electricity.

Students describe situations that support the principle of conservation of energy.

Energy and matter interact through forces that result in changes in motion.

Students describe different patterns of motion of objects.

The Living Environment: Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

Living things are both similar to and different from each other and nonliving things.

Students compare and contrast the parts of plants, animals, and one-celled organisms.

Students explain the functioning of the major human organ systems and their interactions.

Organisms inherit genetic information in a variety of ways that result in continuity of structure and function between parents and offspring.

Students describe sexual and asexual mechanisms for passing genetic materials from generation to generation.

Students describe simple mechanisms related to the inheritance of some physical traits in offspring.

Individual organisms and species change over time.

Students describe sources of variation in organisms and their structures and relate the variations to survival.

Students describe factors responsible for competition within species and the significance of that competition.

The continuity of life is sustained through reproduction and development.

Students observe and describe the variations in reproductive patterns of organisms, including asexual and sexual reproduction.

Students explain the role of sperm and egg cells in sexual reproduction.

Students observe and describe cell division at the microscopic level and its macroscopic effects.

Organisms maintain a dynamic equilibrium that sustains life.

Students compare the way a variety of living specimens carry out basic life functions and maintain dynamic equilibrium.

Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment.

Students describe the flow of energy and matter through food chains and food webs.

Students provide evidence that green plants make food and explain the significance of this process to other organisms.

Human decisions and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environment.

Students describe how living things, including humans, depend upon the living and nonliving environment for their survival.

Students describe the effects of environmental changes on humans and other populations.

Interconnectedness: Common Themes: Students will understand the relationships and common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology and apply the themes to these and other areas of learning.

Systems Thinking: Through systems thinking, people can recognize the commonalities that exist among all systems and how parts of a system interrelate and combine to perform specific functions.

Students identify common things that can be considered to be systems (e.g., a plant population, a subway system, human beings).

Magnitude and Scale: The grouping of magnitudes of size, time, frequency, and pressures or other units of measurement into a series of relative order provides a useful way to deal with the immense range and the changes in scale that affect the behavior and design of systems.

Students identify the biggest and the smallest values as well as the average value of a system when given information about its characteristics and behavior.

Patterns of Change: Identifying patterns of change is necessary for making predictions about future behavior and conditions.

Students use simple instruments to measure such quantities as distance, size, and weight and look for patterns in the data.

Optimization: In order to arrive at the best solution that meets criteria within constraints, it is often necessary to make trade-offs.

Students use simple quantitative methods, such as ratios, to compare costs to benefits of a decision problem.

Interdisciplinary Problem Solving: Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science, and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.

Connections: The knowledge and skills of mathematics, science, and technology are used together to make informed decisions and solve problems, especially those relating to issues of science/technology/society, consumer decision making, design, and inquiry into phenomena.

Students make informed consumer decisions by seeking answers to appropriate questions about products, services, and systems; determining the cost/benefit and risk/benefit tradeoffs; and applying this knowledge to a potential purchase.

Students design solutions to real-world problems of general social interest related to home, school, or community using scientific experimentation to inform the solution and applying mathematical concepts and reasoning to assist in developing a solution.

Students describe and explain phenomena by designing and conducting investigations involving systematic observations, accurate measurements, and the identification and control of variables; by inquiring into relevant mathematical ideas; and by using mathematical and technological tools and procedures to assist in the investigation.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Teachers/ websites

Anyone interested in a quick, effective web site. See Mr. Wright to get one started.

Robolab, Thursday 10/6/05

I would like to thank Robert for presenting Robolab today. I could tell by all of the hands in the air that many people understood the basics already. Just think, this is all new to everyone but instead of being lost or feeling like you can not do it, I think, almost everyone was following along and no one felt totally lost. You will get your chance next time we meet to program in Robolab.

Remeber, it is all new. That's all- just new. Not impossible.

Next week we continue the challenge of making and programming a robot the moves up two feet, stops, and then reverses two feet.

When you come into the class, get your kit and Robot. Everyone gets out their Journals. One person will get a laptop to start programming the RCX at the same table with their group where the Robot is being constructed.

If you have not initialized the RCX yet, get that step done. Robert and Gary will help you with that. All it means is that we have to get the Infrared tower to recognize the laptop and vice versa.

If I have not given you batteries yet, see me to get them. They need to be in the RCX to be to get initialized and then programmed.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Photo of Me

This is me in my office. The pencil growing out of my ear is indeed a #2.

Lego Robotics this week: 10-5, 10-7

Hi Guys,
This week:
-Expect to continue working on the first challenge for newbies: Create a Robot that moves forward two feet, stops for a moment, then reverses to its original starting point.

-The other guys will continue to assemble the challenge missions from the Ocean Odyssey. Once the missions are assembled, they will attempt to accomplish a mission.

-Robert will present the first introduction to programming in Robolab. I am looking forward to that!

Please remember that cleaning up at the end of the period helps to maintain the sanity of Mr. Wright.

See you Monday, on time, of course.
Mr. Wright

Link Index for Teachers,

Teachers can organize important links for a lesson or for professional use.

If you want students to search or "Google" a topic they can easily search aimlessly for hours. Giving students say 2 to 6 websites that the you have already researched for appropriate content, their search is focused and hopefully more productive. You can list your links on an index that you can send them to on the web. They search from there from your references.

I have my links organized on a web-based index. In other words, there is a website that I joined where I am able to cut and paste the addresses of the links I want my students to use. Go look: My user name is fwright2.

Users can log in to fwright2 as a guest to view and click on my links. Currently, I have two crucial websites for my Lego-Robotics class, a lego site with all of the missions for our upcoming competition and another with manuals, how-to's, and other information to help my students learn how to plan, build and program their robots.

I can help you to sign-up and get started anytime.