Saturday, April 28, 2012

LEGO Robotics Podcast

Here's an item I came across while researching this blog. This is the March 27th, 2009 episode of the *Robots Podcast (see description lifted from their nice site, below). This podcast covers many, many aspects of robotics, and in this episode it turns its attention to K-12 Education. The LEGO Robotics segment begins at roughly 4:45 minutes in to the podcast. It features a very insightful interview with Chris Rogers, who,  among other  his many other accomplishments, developed the Robolab software to program LEGO Robotics, one of the resources that makes LEGO Robotics possible. He's got some great things to say about Engineering Education for K-12. Very nice, indeed!

The podcast's website is That's the page with the list of past episodes. Scroll down to "Robots: Learning with LEGO - March 27, 2009 and click on the arrow to listen. The podcast is also available on iTunes (subscribe to the Robots Podcast and move to the 3/27/09 episode).

Chris Rogers: 

* "Robots is a non-profit association based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Robots is dedicated to providing free, high quality, educational information for the robotics community and the general public. Robots‘ main publication, the Robots podcast, is available via Apple iTunes and all other major podcast servers. Robots is the podcast for news and views on robotics. In addition to insights from high-profile professionals, Robots will take you for a ride through the world’s research labs, robotics companies and their latest innovations..."

Oh Sh*%! Stupid Robot, You REALLY Messed Up This Time!

Needs NO explanation!

Robots for the Elderly

Here are a couple of items touching on an important application of robots, care of elderly folks...
1) Robot tested in Australian senior citizen homes

AND... 2)  From AARP's magazine, the article: "Independent Living for the Aging Is Possible With New Technology:

"Americans love their homes, and given a choice, they'd like to stay in them as they get older. According to a 2011 AARP report, 90 percent of people age 65 and over want to age where they are, though less than 10 percent are using the personal and safety technology that is already available to help them do just that..."

"Meanwhile, researchers, scientists and designers are working to create new technology to help Americans live independently throughout their lives. But how can they tell if their products will actually help or if people will even use them?
Honing such inventions through user feedback to make them more effective and appealing, even to monitor cognitive decline as it's happening is the concept behind "living labs." In this research method, medical and academic institutions test their ideas for days, weeks, even years in the homes of older adults. It's not just science that researchers must perfect; the technology must also fit into everyday lives..."
"The Oregon Center for Aging and Technology (ORCATECH), part of Portland's Oregon Health & Science University, is testing technology in more than 150 houses, apartments and retirement communities in the metro area, as well as 200 other homes nationwide.
They asked: Do changes in mobility and walking speed predict cognitive decline? If so, doctors might be able to step in and mitigate the problem before there's a dramatic change. To find out, motion sensors are installed on participants' ceilings or appliances. Information on the speed and frequency of round-the-clock activity feeds into a computer in the home and then transmits to researchers. Retired radiologist Lucien Burke, 71, says he has 20 motion sensors scattered throughout the rooms in his house..."

Read the full article at its source:

Finally, 3) Our friend Bill Gates weighs in with his 2 trillion Cents on the matter:

Friday, April 27, 2012

90% of Published News Stories Will Be Written by Robot Reporters by 2027!

The paragraphs below are excerpted from a fascinating article about robotic journalism software in Wired magazine...

"Can an Algorithm Write a Better News Story Than a Human Reporter?"
"Had Narrative Science — a company that trains computers to write news stories—created this piece, it probably would not mention that the company’s Chicago headquarters lie only a long baseball toss from the Tribune newspaper building. Nor would it dwell on the fact that this potentially job-killing technology was incubated in part at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Those ironies are obvious to a human. But not to a computer...

At least not yet.

For now consider this: Every 30 seconds or so, the algorithmic bull pen of Narrative Science, a 30-person company occupying a large room on the fringes of the Chicago Loop, extrudes a story whose very byline is a question of philosophical inquiry. The computer-written product could be a pennant-waving second-half update of a Big Ten basketball contest, a sober preview of a corporate earnings statement, or a blithe summary of the presidential horse race drawn from Twitter posts. The articles run on the websites of respected publishers like Forbes, as well as other Internet media powers (many of which are keeping their identities private). Niche news services hire Narrative Science to write updates for their subscribers, be they sports fans, small-cap investors, or fast-food franchise owners.

And the articles don’t read like robots wrote them..."

Read the full article at its sourece:

PS - Check out Auto Reporter's page. Here's information about an example of the type of  software described in the article above, from the company that provides it:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

American Schools MUST stop turning their backs on Robotics!

Here are some powerful quotes excerpted from a great article in T.H.E. Journal magazine of April, 2012.
While the article points out the very significant learning benefits of school robotics programs, it laments the fact that robotics programs are only in 10 percent of US schools, I’ll amplify this with the fact that in many such schools, only a tiny percentage of the students are involved in the robotics program there. For instance, it’s often the case that a middle school of 800 or more students will indeed have a robotics team (or two), but that a mere dozen of its registered students are served by it. We must remedy this situation. Robotics is an ideal STEM education approach, but it remains extremely under-implemented in our schools!
Robots Rule
as Competition Season Heats Up
Robotics has become a phenomenon in K-12. Tens of thousands of teams composed of literally hundreds of thousands of K-12 students will compete in robotics events worldwide in 2012 alone. Yet, with all of this activity, robotics programs are only in 10 percent of the schools in the United States…
… The Robotics Phenomenon
Robotics in K-12 has become a phenomenon, with multiple organizations--FIRST, VEX, BEST, and Botball--selling kits, encouraging students to participate, and running competitions. During 2012, FIRST competitions will encompass nearly 27,000 teams with 293,000 high school, middle school, and grade school students. The VEX program, run by VEX Robotics Design System, hosts 4,800-plus teams in 23 countries and puts on 300 events a year. The VEX world championship takes place in Anaheim starting April 18 and will host 600 teams from 17 countries…
these programs combined are only in 10 percent of the schools in the United States, according to Jason Morrella, president of Robotics Education and Competition Foundation… robotics can be added to classroom activities with curriculum that meshes with math standardsBut just as many school robotics teams are hosted by parents or companies and delivered as extracurricular programs….students "learn problem solving, design work, teamwork, leadership...
A Channel to Creativity
What Chris Bradshaw said he values about robotics programs is how they inspire creativity. Bradshaw is Autodesk's chief marketing officer and senior vice president for "reputation, consumer & education." That includes oversight of an education community program that provides Autodesk software to students anywhere in the world for free….
… One of the biggest complaints we get from our professional customers is that when they go to hire, the kids coming out of college have degrees, they're smart, but they don't have a lot of creativity," Bradshaw said.. "We're training kids from five or six years old to believe that every answer is either A, B, C, or D--one of the circles. [During] most all of K-12 and college, you're filling in dots that say, 'There is one right answer to this question.' When you go to these robotic competitions and you see every team with the same kit and same instructions and competing with the same rulebook, there will not be even two robots that look even remotely alike. This notion of A, B, C, or D evaporates in this environment. You get kids learning that many solutions are possible. Many solutions work."
…STEM Connection
Then there's the STEM connection. According to research done a decade ago by Brandeis University, FIRST participants are twice as likely to go into science and engineering majors. Female participants are four times more likely to pursue those majors in college.
…Anyone interested in bringing robotics into the educational lives of young people, but unsure about how to do it should check out this great book: Getting Started with LEGO Robotics - a guide for K-12 Educators put out by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting Started with LEGO Robotics Named Important STEM Education Resource

This just forwarded… How cool to get this sort of acknowledgment! MANY thanks to all the talented brains I picked in putting this book together!

Getting Started with LEGO Robotics Named Important STEM Education Resource

Multiple Sources 4/11/12:  Palm Beach County, Fla. – The 21st Century Compendium for STEM Education, an effort to promote easy-to-implement approaches to STEM Learning, today named Getting Started with LEGO Robotics: A Guide for K-12 Educators  as the Most Promising K-12 STEM Resource for 2012. Getting Started with LEGO Robotics by Mark Gura is published by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). According to author, Mark Gura, “I wrote Getting Started to fill a crucial gap in STEM Education.  While many educators consider LEGO Robotics to be the most exciting and effective approach to STEM learning, many teachers are unsure how to begin. The great takeaway from my research for the book was how easy this can be for someone armed with the right understandings and resources; the book provides all that, showing newcomers how to self-start and develop as LEGO Robotics users alongside their students.” The book has been purchased by an increasingly large number of educators and others interested in bringing LEGO Robotics into the educational experience of young people. Publisher’s website:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Robots Monitor Senior Citizens: Technology to Help Oldsters with Alzheimers

"Meet Celia, the Video Robot...
Spying on your parents may not be bad when they show signs of cognitive decline""Spying on your parents may not be such a bad thing, especially when they may be showing signs of cognitive decline. You can now call your aging parents or grandparents and check up on them by remotely controlling Celia the Robot.

“Basically it’s kind of like Skype on wheels,” said Nicole Larimer, Intel Senior Research Associate. Celia the Robot is a pilot program run by Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, in partnership with the Intel Corporation, which is developing products to help people age in place..."

Read the full article at its source: