Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Talent for the Robotics Class

Since it is almost the end of the year, Mr. Daly, the Stock Market talent teacher, and I thought it would be fun to bring his sixth graders over to the Robotics Laboratory and give them a chance to build some robots.

We introduced the students to Legos. Many students already knew about Legos and but were very intrigued by the Robotics part of Legos. I gave an introduction to some key vocabulary words for Legos. These words help us to comunicate. I gave them such words as axel, brick and beam.

Then the students were directed to build a "car that rolls." One thing that is so exciting about students for me is how many ways students will come up with to solve a problem. The problem was simple- Build a car that rolls.

Of course, because these students are New York City students, they quickly came up with solutions that met the critieria of the mini-lesson. The students worked in groups of two. They had to communicate effectively and build it together.

Let's take a look at some of the solutions. Later, I will have this group back. I would really like to have this bunch for next year's team and class. I can tell they will be amazing!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Child Robot From Japan

A Child Robot was built by Japanese researches at Osaka University. The purpose of the robot is to study child development. I am fascinated by the advancements of robotic developments. What I find even more exciting is how when a project or product is developed, some other use or unplanned use arises from someone else looking at the new invention or twist.

I would to hear about these types of discoveries.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Honda Drops an Electric Car

The news says that Honda will stop selling the Electric Honda Accord because sales are low.

See guys, even international car companie have difficulty with producing an affordable alternative fuel auto. Maybe the sales are low due to a combination of factors. Isn't the Toyota Prius making sales history?

Why do you think the Prius sales are taking off and the Electric Honda Accord sales slumped to the point that Honda had to cancel sales altogether?

I respect my students' attempts at making an alternative-power source Lego Robot. Don't give up just yet! They are having much difficulty with making a working model but are learning a tremendous amount!

I.S. 93 Students and teachers can win Flash Drive

The purpose of this contest is to have some fun, learn about services like Box.net and about other office solutions besides Microsoft products. Many of these products are free and that is the rigfht price for many of our studnts and for us as well.

I will consider a whole Google thing for apps, pix, blogs and account later.

You will need to go to OpenOffice.org to get the application that will open the directions!

Box.net is a free storage area for users on the web.
OpenOffice is a free suite of office products that look and work like Word and Powerpoint. I thought a treasure hunt might be a cool way to get people to take a look at some helpful technology.

The directions on how to win the prizes are outlined in the doc on the Box account.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Air Powered Car

I was pleased to read this article on Air Powered Cars.
Robert and Danny have been trying to use the Lego parts that use air. These parts are the air tanks, hoses, valves and air valve switches. They planned to build some sort of contraption that worked on air. So far they have reported many problems. I have seen some interesting rigs they built with pumps pistons and storage tanks.
I am sure that when they read this article and read about all of the challenges the engineers faced to build a car powered by air that they will not feel alone in their struggles.
I am a teacher watching my students attempt to use an alternative energy source to power a robot. They have been using the normal Lego motors, RCX and traditional looking drive trains for two years. I admire them very much for taking on this challenge to change the power source of a robot. It is timely. It is relavant. They are fearless. They have learned that it isn't so easy to invent a new system and just change to new unproven system.
They have almost given up a few times. I think my middel-school robotics kids are learning first hand what teams of grown-up trained engineers are experiencing. It's hard. It is also exciting. I think the "Big Three" should come to Ridgewood and start funding their edcuation so that Robert and Danny work on these alternative technologies while they are in college and when they finish college.
I think the automotive industry is slow to change because it is easier to just keep making the same old Lego Robot. Just ask Danny and Robert how tempting it is to give up and fall back on "Old Reliable."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Incline Challenge

Great work Friday! (June 1st, 2007)

Three groups tested their Lego Robots on the ramp in the classroom. I observed all groups running their robots up the ramp. I was pleased that we have more than one group running tests.

I observed the following:
  • each group expressing their disappointment about how far up the ramp each robot was able to climb.
  • each group speculating about how to fix the robot to make it climb higher.
  • very few written observations being entered by the teams.

The Science comes from writing down what you are attempting. Describe the results. Describe a plan of action to redesign the robot. Run it again. Log the new observations, such as "It went 5 cnetimeters farther up the ramp. We change the tires by doubling up the tires on each side of the axle."

Tell your journal why you think an attempt or a redign was successful or not. This reveals your learning.

I would like a few comments concerning the ramp, drive trains, worm gears, traction, slipping and anything else that goes on when a robot is climbing!

Friday, June 01, 2007

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