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.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The first three days

August 29

On Tuesday I met with Professor Sklar to discuss the details of the project. There are ten lesson plans made up for the students already, four of which I completed and reviewed during the summer. However, she thinks that I may only get through six of them altogether, as teaching the actual programming tends to get bogged down by helping the students figure out how to set up and configure the corporeal aspects of the robots. (Speaking of which, we're using the LEGOS RCX robots--neat little things with all sorts of motors and sensors for navigating an environment. Very cool stuff, and someone out on the net even made an entire language for more serious programming, called Not Quite C.)

At any rate, we still have to figure out what school I'm going to be teaching at and at what time. She has a couple of schools in mind, though none of them are quite perfect for me (geographically speaking), so I volunteer to call up a friend who works at school nearby my apartment. This is all very tricky for me as I have to balance a meeting time for another independent study, another class that I might add to my schedule, trying to work 20 hours a week.

After talking about schools, Prof Sklar assigns me a stack of surveys from a RoboCup tournament. Teams of kids filled them out, and now my job is to put some of the information into a spreadsheet.

Later on that day I went through the surveys and got them on the computer.

August 30

I try calling a friend of mine who works at a high school two blocks from my apartment, but the number I have is either old or just Not Right.

Later in the day I go to the orientation for CIS independent studies and learn that on top of the actual teaching of robotics and learning programming for data entry/analysis, I'm required to tutor CIS freshman, and also put in a total of 15 hours per week for the project. I find this somewhat dismaying, as it is only a 3 credit course, I'm not guaranteed any sort of monetary compensation for what I do, and on top of that I'm not exactly equipped to start tutoring freshman when I haven't written much of anything (besides some programs for the LEGO bots last year) in about two years. To put it lightly, I'm rusty.

So instead of actually tutoring, I'm going to be working with my boss from work (actually my boss' boss), in some sort of computer lab and/or programming gig. I think this is officially only supposed to be for an hour or two during the week, but I'm afraid he might have something more intensive in mind. If that's the case, I'd really like to get paid for that time, as there are only so many hours in a week, and with all of this starting to pile up, encroaching on my 20 hour work schedule, I'd prefer to continue putting food on my plate.

Late that night I got an email from Prof Sklar informing me that Wingate--a high school in Crown Heights--has a spot for me to do my robotics thing on Thursdays, which fits my schedule (less than ideal, but still doable). She also inquires about the status of my friend's high school.

August 31

Today I tracked down my friend's number and got in contact with him (the school is called Clara Barton High), and he directed me towards the Coordinator of Student Affairs. I informed Mr. Coordinator of the program's details and also told him that there would be other students running workshops. He seemed interested and said that he would talk to others on the administrative staff about it.

If they do end up wanting to have a program there, I'd much prefer to teach at Clara Barton, considering the extreme convenience of being just a few blocks away from my apartment.

So now I'm just waiting for his response, and for the rest of my schedule to settle down. The times for the meetings for my other independent study were set, but I still don't know when exactly I'll be working (since that depends on the teaching schedule), and I don't know when I'm going to be doing the lab/tutoring portion of this project--nor do I even know what I'm going to be doing.


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