Robotics Education

A Blog for my independent study in robotics education. I will post frequently, as all work I write here will be handed in and graded.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

First Day at Wingate

Thursday, Kevin and I went to the high school. We met at the lab at one fifteen, gathered the kits, and left. We got there at two o’clock and were shown around by Dana for about half an hour before we went upstairs to the classroom. There were only five kids there, but they were well behaved an interested working with the robots.

We gave the kids some papers to fill out for the school, and while they did that, we handed out the kits and instruction manuals. One of them had already been involved with a robotics competition that used Lego bots, so he was able to construct his in a matter of twenty to thirty minutes. Others worked at an even pace, while one younger kid needed more help. He was often unable to distinguish between different sized pieces, and was often thrown off by the inconsistency of the colors of the blocks; the instructions indicated that he needed to use a yellow block, but some yellow blocks were replaced with gray blocks while Kevin and I were putting them together. I also tried having him use the flipbook instructions, and that worked somewhat better, but he was also confused by the fact that all the pieces in flipbook are gray and black.

The three others were able to get along with building the bots with only minimal help needed. Common errors included putting wheels in the wrong hole and also confusing the full bushings with the small gears. Kevin and I made our own error by including the wrong wheel for the front of the chassis, so the kids had to compensate by using half and full bushels in different places.

At the end of the workshop, all of the kids completed the go-bot, and two of them had also had gone onto putting on the RCX brick and playing around with RoboLab.

For the next time, I’d like to give the workshop more structure. I’m going to start out by writing on the board the lesson plan for the day, including the goals they should have to complete by the end of the class, and also things to keep in mind while building the bot. Most of the time spent in the class will be them working from their lesson plans while I go around helping out those who need it. I think what I might also try is going through the lesson plan with them before they start it, to give them a sense of what they should they be thinking about, and what methods they should use to solve the problems.

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