Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Performing Classroom Robot that Can Help Put the A (Arts) In STEAM Learning

This newer robot illustrates the very encouraging direction that resource providers are moving in their development efforts... This one can speak, dance, and more... It seems to me that students could easily program it to (among many other things) perform expressively and artistically. Wow!

JD ROBOT - Intelligent Humanoid - Sings, Dances, Learns, More! FULL REVIEW!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

3 Ways Robots Can Help Students Tell Stories

Nice piece in my in-box today from KindLab Robotics (KIBO Robots)...

3 Ways Robots Can Help Students Tell Stories

In this article, Amanda Puerto Thorne from the KID Museum in Bethesda, MD discusses her use of robots as storytellers. She has hands-on lessons with KIBO robots to teach students the power of storytelling and the power of coding - at the same time. Introducing programming concepts using storylines and characters flips the mindset around robotics and technology from consuming to creating. Storytelling with robots helps create accessible entry points for all types of learners. Read More

Monday, November 25, 2019

LEGO robotics competition builds student problem-solving skills

Nice story from Community Radio KRBD - Kethikan, Alaska... 

"LEGO robotics competition puts students’ problem-solving skills to the test

LEGOs are some of the most popular toys in the world. For most, they’re a fun way to build models and let the imagination run wild. But in Ketchikan, some students are using the Danish toy to learn about robotics, teamwork and sportsmanship.

Ariona Dowhitt, left, and Fawn Reese, right, look on as their team’s robot goes about its various tasks. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

It’s a little after midday on a gloomy Sunday at the Plaza mall in Ketchikan. People are milling about doing some Christmas shopping.
But in one corner of the mall, there’s a table set up with LEGOs. Four teams of elementary and middle schoolers from Ketchikan and Prince of Wales Island are putting the finishing touches on miniature LEGO robots.

Their goal? Improving the city. Well, a miniature city.
“You have to make a project on how to make the world better,” said Ketchikan student Satcha Breese. He’s with DJ Mama, one of two teams from the mixed-grade charter school.

The theme for this year’s FIRST Lego League competition is “City Shaper,” and it challenges kids to think about how to improve their built environment. Part of that is an original model, and teams get bonus points for outfitting their building with things like toy solar panels or rooftop gardens.

Here’s how it works: the teams build and program their robots to complete certain jobs — moving their original creation and some other colored blocks to circles on the printed rubber mat, freeing up a stuck swing, even clearing a traffic jam.
“Each obstacle has a different set of points,” said Jacob Alguire, a math and science teacher at Ketchikan Charter School. He coaches the school’s two teams, DJ Mama and the Dragon Knights.

“Like the traffic jam right there with the gray base and the blue levers. You get 10 points by lifting that up and effectively clearing the traffic jam.”
Referees add up the score at the end of the round. But they deduct points if team members touch their robots while they go about their tasks.

“The robot is supposed to autonomously solve all of these missions,” Alguire said.
It’s a three-round competition, so if something doesn’t go right the first time, the kids can go back and tweak their robot and its program.

The Dragon Knights made some changes before the second round, says team member Chandler Reeve.

“We dragged our blocks way too far, so then we went back to our program and we change it to go, like, not really that far from now we’re going to see how that goes this time,” Reeve said.

Of course, not everything always goes according to plan.

Coach Alguire says the Dragon Knights missed one crucial step before round two.
“So they forgot to upload the program that they want,” he explained. “And right now they’re scrambling in the very last second, like you would in any type of sports show — they’re trying to fix everything at the last minute and see if they can get it working before they go up on the table.”

Over on DJ Mama’s side of the table, team member Fawn Breese says the program is a great way for kids to learn sportsmanship and team problem-solving.
“It teaches teamwork and how to not be mean to the other teams and that we’re all people and we have to work together,” Breese said.
DJ Mama’s teamwork paid off — they ended up outscoring their competitors by 70 points.

Lori Ortiz helped organize today’s tournament. She wants to see the program expand to other Ketchikan-area schools and communities throughout Southeast.
“We actually have some of these resources ready to go,” Ortiz said. “We have some computers, we have the LEGO programming, and we have the robot brains and the LEGO pieces. We just really want to build up more teams.”
The only thing organizers say they need? More adults to volunteer as coaches so they can expand the competition in the years to come.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Teaching tomorrow’s edtech leaders about robotics, today!

As published in EdTech Digest

When A Special Guest Arrives, Some Great Questions

Teaching tomorrow’s edtech leaders about robotics, today!

(Column) LIGHTING A FIRE | by Mark Gura

I teach a master’s level course for a popular New York City-based university titled, “Technology Integration for School Leaders.” Having a student robotics materials producer join the class as an online guest seemed like a sexy idea. I was fortunate and Robo Wunderkind, a provider of some excellent STEM instruction materials accepted my invitation.

My class and I were joined by Mark Resnick who engaged us in a ripping good conversation about Student Robotics and about the way his company, Robo Wunderkind, has put together its body of offerings for school use.

Robots on My Mind

Student Robotics has been much on my mind lately, having contributed to the recently published ‘State of Student Robotics 2019: An Educator’s Guide’, a free 90-page eBook (scroll down for link). Student Robotics is a hyper-rapidly growing area of STEM education and along with a deep overview of how it can be integrated in to schools’ instructional programs, particularly across the core curriculum, the guide includes a great many varieties of robotics resources, Robo Wunderkind being one of a large and expanding body of offerings.

‘…those who spearhead and support the technology program of each school should be aware of the ascendency of Student Robotics and given a good idea of how they can bring this exemplary facet of instruction into their schools.’

With such a large and highly competitive pack to keep up with, a newer company like Robo Wunderkind needs to make wise choices to appeal to schools, many of which are now actively looking to jump into this pool of practice head first. Mark enthusiastically regaled us with explanations of the sharp thinking, cutting-edge design, and full envelope of support items they’ve come up with.

The Perfect Group

My students were the perfect group to engage in this conversation. All of them are enrolled in a master’s program to qualify as school and district level technology specialists and they all had some familiarity with student robotics, having seen or read about it, although none had actually ever used the materials, let alone taught with them. This makes them typical of a great many of their colleagues who can benefit greatly from being brought up to speed quickly on an ever more present, popular, and successful area of instruction. They were ready to gain some real insights about which robotics resources and practices offer strong instructional value and classroom practicality. Our conversation was a perfect opener to this field for them.
Of the many points covered, here are a few that resonated particularly:
  • Form factor: Are the materials easy for students to manipulate and explore with? Does the way they work model STEM concepts?

  • Is the resource set designed for a full STEM experience, not just coding, but Engineering, as well? While there are valid reasons for both, this is a crucial consideration for educators considering making robotics part of what they offer students.

  • An eye toward starting students with robotics very young and launching them on a continuum of continuing, robotics-supported, increasingly sophisticated learning activities – an ongoing thread through the learning experience that kids engage in as they progress through the grades.

  • Curriculum: Does the resource provider provide it? Of high quality? Robo Wunderkind’s seems to be a rather extensive one that includes the element of story to contextualize STEM activities in a way that is age appropriate and engaging for young students. My students were impressed with the fact that it is available without purchase to all through Robo Wunderkind’s website.

  • Further, the amount of teacher guide materials that can encourage to non-tech specialist teachers to be self-starters is generous, eye opening, and inspiring. Any variety of instructional materials that is likely to entice teachers to use them joyfully and creatively is very much on the right track.

  • One of the deepest themes I explore with my grad students is the way today’s technology resources enhance traditional best practices, making for greater relevance and deeper learning; and how they establish new, previously unimagined instructional practice, as well. Robo Wunderkind is one well-designed variety of materials that, in the hands of insightful and dedicated teachers, can support this. 

One of the out-of-the-box facets I found in perusing the Robo Wunderkind resources is the balance of discovery learning through free play for the students and needed structure for the teachers. The system encourages learning through play while at the same time provides worksheets and other formal materials which have students reflect on what they are doing and learning and report on it as they would on other learning. To me it’s the best of both worlds neatly interwoven and above all supported by the developer.

Taking this approach full circle, teachers are provided guides and journals with which to assess learning as revealed in the worksheets, return them to students with constructive feedback. Lest any colleagues blanch at this, it seems to me that one is always free to take advantage of as much of the generous range of materials and suggestions as suits one’s instructional sensibilities or use the materials in a free and unstructured manner as suits one, or create one’s own structures. Within the teachers’ guide there is a template for teachers to create their own lessons, by the way. The materials themselves are robust and will support any direction taken.

Understandings and Skills

Robotics embraces so many of the important understandings and skills that we hope today’s students will learn and learn well before they move on from school. It’s becoming increasingly clear that it behooves every school to offer it; not just as an extra, but integrated into the core of the instructional program. It follows that those who spearhead and support the technology program of each school should be aware of the ascendency of Student Robotics and given a good idea of how they can bring this exemplary facet of instruction into their schools.

I feel very good about making this part of my graduate courses, courses I design to prepare tomorrow’s school tech leaders. And I appreciate Robo Wunderkind’s enthusiastic dialog with my students.

To get your free copy of The State of Student Robotics 2019: An Educator’s Guide, click here.

Mark Gura is Editor-at-Large for EdTech Digest and author of ‘Getting Started With LEGO Robotics’ (ISTE). He is a co-author of State of EdTech: The Minds Behind What’s Now and What’s Next. He taught at New York City public schools in East Harlem for two decades. He spent five years as a curriculum developer for the central office and was eventually tapped to be the New York City Department of Education’s director of the Office of Instructional Technology, assisting over 1,700 schools serving 1.1 million students in America’s largest school system.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Girls and Student Robotics... NOW!

Click on photo to go to video!

Girls Can Love STEM Too: Robotics Becoming Popular Sport for Girls

By Taylor Neuman Triad

Girls Can Love STEM Too: Robotics Becoming Popular Sport for Girls

By Taylor Neuman Triad

Girls Can Love STEM Too: Robotics Becoming Popular Sport for Girls

By Taylor Neuman Triad

Sunday, November 10, 2019

I like this example of Authentic, Project-Based, Student Robotics Learning: from makeblock

For those who, like me, find wonderful opportunities for Project Based/Authentic Learning with Robotics, here's an interesting program from MakeBlook (appeared in my email In Box this morning)...

"We would like to announce that the final round for mTiny Coding Camp has begun!
Previously, we’ve selected 10 schools to create videos on students playing with mTiny. Start from today untill 28th Nov, you can share the school videos with your communities and others, invite them to vote for you. Don’t forget, the 3 schools with the most votes will receive 5 mTiny units for each school..."

Vote Now

After registering (FREE) I was taken by link to a page of videos apparently sent in by schools... the videos show kids working with the robots. I think schools documenting and sharing their learning activities this way is a first step toward Education's next level future... Also, great to see groups of kids collaboratively working with robots and doing real things with them confidently at such an early age. I find this initiative inspiring...