Sunday, March 29, 2015

Obama Learns from Young Girl Robot Creators: Brainstorming, Prototypes, and LEGO Robotics

"WASHINGTON — President Obama marveled on Monday as a group of 6-year-old Girl Scouts at the White House Science Fair demonstrated the automatic page turner they had built out of Legos and explained that the invention was the result of a brainstorming session.

“Have you ever had a brainstorming session yourself?” one of the young inventors asked the president.
He chuckled and responded quickly: “Health care.”

Mr. Obama honored the achievements of young scientists and inventors on Monday as he hosted the fifth annual science fair.

The president saw demonstrations of several of the projects, including one from a high school girl in Arizona who invented an algorithm to identify new Ebola drugs; one from a young man in New York with congenital scoliosis who created a spinal implant; and another from a freshman in Pennsylvania who devised a new method for securing computers against hackers

“You’ve made a lot of people proud — your parents, your teachers, your friends, your mentors,” Mr. Obama told the children in an East Room ceremony. “And as president, I’m proud of you, because America is going to be stronger and smarter and healthier, and a much more interesting place because of you.”

The White House took the opportunity to announce $240 million in new commitments from the government and private businesses to help children succeed in science, technology and math. Officials said that included a pledge of $150 million from philanthropies intended to build a pipeline of young talent in the sciences.

But for Mr. Obama, it was clear that the best part of the day was spending time with the young inventors. After singling out the high-powered projects, the president also mentioned the day’s youngest scientists.

“They realized that some people who might be paralyzed or arthritic might have trouble turning pages on a book, so they invented this page turner,” Mr. Obama said. “It was awesome.”
As for his own brainstorming session, Mr. Obama admitted that health care did not have quite the fun factor as a Lego page turner..."
Read the full article at its source:

Shouldn't this type of experience be part of every kid's education? It's not hard to make happen (see below)...

Click on book cover for information

Click on book cover for information
Getting Started with LEGO Robotics. Anyone who works with kids can do LEGO Robotics, a rich and highly motivating platform for important STEM Learning! (surprisingly affordable, too) This books explains it all!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Congratulations Reuben Bridges, Mentor with 2TrainRobotics Team of Morris High School in the Bronx - From Student to Mentor, Robotics Offers Young People So Much!

2TrainRobotics (Morris High School Robotics Team) -
Reuben Bridges in the center with cap on head.
Gary Israel next to Reuben, 4th from right 

The letters below were sent to me by my friend, Gary Israel, who has coached Morris High School’s 2 Train Robotics team for years. It would be impossible to overstate the level of passion and commitment that Gary and colleagues like Reuben Bridges (former student and now team Mentor) and the young people they work with have for Student Robotics. The letters below illustrate the kind of excitement and character shaping that FIRST, and other robotics events and activities bring to the lives of young people along with crucial STEM learning….

On 03/16/15, Gary Israel wrote:
Dear Friends,
It was an amazing weekend at the NYC Robotics Competition at the Javits Convention Center in NYC. There is good news and bad news. Unfortunately our robot did not perform as well as we hoped, so this year we did not qualify for the final elimination rounds Sunday afternoon.

Since this was our first competition in 2015 the students learned a lot about the robot during competition and will be better prepared for our second competition next week in Rochester NY.

Now for the good news and it doesn't get any better than this. In 1999 when I started the robotics program at Morris High School in South Bronx, a senior student from one of my business classes, Reuben Bridges, joined the team. After graduating the following year he started to mentor the team and has continued to work with the team every year. At this year's competition there were 65 teams from the USA and around the world. I am happy to say that Rueben was awarded the highest honor given to an individual - the "Woodie Flowers Award". This prestigious award recognizes mentors who, lead, inspire, and empower students”.

During Sunday's competition Reuben was interviewed by CNN and shared his passion and commitment to FIRST Robotics!

Reuben is an extraordinary young man who has been a wonderful role model for the male students on the team and I couldn't be more proud!

Warm regards,



Monday, Mar 9 09:12 AM

Morris High School Robotics Team

Good morning Family & Friends

As some of you know this will be the Morris High School Robotics Team's 16th year participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an international high school robotics competition. Each year, teams of high school students and mentors work during a six week period to build game-playing robots that weigh up to 120 pounds. 

Three weeks ago the students finished building their 2015 robot and will be competing this Saturday and Sunday in the NYC FIRST Robotics Regional at the Javits Center. This will mark our 15th consecutive year competing in the NYC Regional.  Two weeks later the team will travel to Rochester, NY to compete in the Finger Lakes FIRST Regional on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology.

While our team has had many accomplishments and awards over the years (see below) I am most proud of the impact that the robotics program has on the student’s life, including building their appreciation of science and technology.

Thanks to the financial support from our corporate sponsors, alumni and friends of Morris, the students have travelled and competed in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Ohio,Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. 


Warm regards,


PS. I want to share a letter I received recently from the NY Yankees. In addition to financially supporting our team over the last 14 years the NY Yankees will once again honor the team on the field on June 5 at a ceremony prior to the game between the California Angels and the Yankees.



HIGHLIGHTS: Morris H.S Campus FIRST Robotics Team (2000-2014) 

  • New Jersey  FIRST Regional 2000 Judges Award
  • FIRST Robotics Presidential Classroom Scholarship 2000
  • NASA / FIRST Robotics Grant 2001
  • NASA/  FIRST Robotics Grant 2002
  • NASA/VCU South Atlantic FIRST 2003 Robotics Regional Winner
  • NASA/VCU South Atlantic FIRST 2003 Imagery Winner
  • New York City FIRST 2002 Robotics Xerox Creativity
  • New York City FIRST 2003 Robotics Engineering and Inspiration Winner
  • New York City FIRST 2004 Robotics Chairman’s Award Winner
  • New York City FIRST 2004 Robotics Regional Finalist
  • New York City FIRST 2005 Robotics Regional Winner
  • New York City FIRST 2005 Judges Award
  • New York City FIRST 2006 Robotics Regional Winner
  • New York City FIRST 2006 Judges Award
  • New York City FIRST 2007 Quarterfinalists
  • New York City FIRST 2008 Semifinalists
  • New York City FIRST 2008 General Motors Industrial Design Award
  • New York City FIRST 2008 FIRST Outstanding Volunteer Award 
  • New York City FIRST 2009 Semifinalists
  • New York City FIRST 2010 Quarterfinalists
  • New York City FIRST 2011 Robotics Regional Winner
  • New York City FIRST 2011 Robotics Xerox Creativity
  • New York City FIRST 2011 Woodie Flowers Award
  • Pittsburgh FIRST 2005 Robotics Regional Winner
  • Pittsburgh FIRST 2005 Judges Award
  • Pittsburgh FIRST 2006 Robotics Regional Winner
  • Pittsburgh FIRST 2006 Robotics Engineering and Inspiration Winner
  • Pittsburgh FIRST 2007 Quarterfinalists
  • Florida FIRST 2008 Semifinalists
  • Philadelphia FIRST 2009 Robotics Regional Winner
  • Philadelphia FIRST 2010 Semifinalists
  • Philadelphia FIRST 2011 Quarterfinalists
  • Philadelphia FIRST 2011 Team Spirit Award
  • FIRST Robotics Championship competition Houston Texas 2003
  • FIRST Robotics Championship competition Atlanta Georgia 2004
  • FIRST Robotics Championship competition Atlanta Georgia 2005
  • FIRST Robotics Championship competition Atlanta Georgia 2006
  • FIRST Robotics Championship competition Atlanta Georgia 2007
  • FIRST Robotics Championship competition Atlanta Georgia 2008
  • FIRST Robotics Championship competition Atlanta Georgia 2009
  • FIRST Robotics Championship competition St. Louis 2011


  • Tribute March 17, 2003 to the Morris Robotics Team on the Floor of The House of Representatives in Washington D.C
  • Bronx Borough proclaims March 26, 2003 Morris High School Robotics Day
  • Team Presented with Medal by Secretary Colin L. Powell September 2002
  • Robotics team honored on the Floor of the State Assembly in Albany 2003,2004
  • The New York Yankees honor the Morris team on the field at Yankee Stadium 2002,2003,2004,2005,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
  • The New York Yankees honor the Morris team at the groundbreaking ceremony at the new Yankee Stadium August 2006
  • Represented all New York City Robotics teams in the Bronx Day Parade 2003,2004,2005,2006, 2009, 2010,2011
  • Appearances at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey 2003, 2004
  • Saluted on radio as “Hometown Heroes” on WINS 1010 June, 2003

·    Featured in a 2003 award winning FIRST Robotics Showtime Documentary

·    Top prize at the Bronx Business & Technology Expo 2003

·    Featured in a 2004 Documentary on National Cable TECH TV

·         Appearance with Dean Kamen at the  2004 Annual New York Times Talk Series

·    Appearances on Good Morning America, BronxTalk Prime Time Live, Bronx Talk AM, News 12 Bronxnet, NY 1, Fox News, Telemundo and WNBC

·    Articles written about the team in New York Times, Amsterdam News, New York Daily News, Bronx Times,  Richmond Times, Uptown Express, Columbia Engineering, United Federation of Teacher’s newspaper, FIRST Robotics Newsletter and Bronx Beat

·    Team captain participated in 2003 Antarctica expedition

·    Team member selected to participate in 2004 Antarctica expedition

·    Team featured in July 2005 article in Popular Mechanics

·    Team appears on Telemundo Television program June 2006

·    Team appears at Sony Wonder Technology Lab in 2006

·    Team participates at the NextFest Conference Javits Center Sept. 2006

·    Team captain participated in 2006 Antarctica expedition

·    Team participates at Gagetoff at Liberty Science Center Sept. 2007

·    Team featured in Imagine it! Documentary 2008

·    Team featured in Forbes Magazine article 2009

·    Team featured in Popular Science article 2009

·    Team featured in Neal Bascomb Book “The New Cool” 2009

·    Team appears at Sony Wonder Technology Lab in 2011

·    Team featured in NY Daily News article 2011

·    Team featured in ESPN the Magazine 2011

·    Team appeared on Channel 5 Teen News September 2011

·    Team appeared at the NY Maker Faire September 2011

·    Team appeared at the NY Maker Faire September 2014




Monday, March 16, 2015

What can kids build with LEGO Robotics Materials? 10 Videos that illustrate the flexibility and variety of robots possible to create with LEGO NXT / Robotics Materials


Paul the robot drawing Patrick"

 Time Twister - LEGO Mindstorms Digital Clock

Final Lego rollercoaster finished NXT controlled

LEGO - Tic Tac Toe

NXT Robot counting money!

NXT Fly Trap

NXT Electric Guitar

NXT Paper Airplane Launcher

Lego Mindstorms NXT Catapult Robot

The things (many of them involving required curriculum) that students can learn from conceiving, creating, and operating and trouble shooting these robots represent a dazzling range of highly relevant learning outcomes! In addition to the STEM learning, the language use involved in communicating with partner students; journaling the project; and documenting, presenting, and writing and publishing about the finished project, there are other, perhaps 'softer' but equally powerful outcomes - how to solve the initial challenge that the robot was created to address, as well as the myriad problems encountered and that have to be solved along the way - as well as understanding the significance of being part of a world in which serious human problems are solved with machines, computers, programing, and robotics! By the way, all of this and much more is explained in the book described below...

Click on book cover for information

Click on book cover for information
Getting Started with LEGO Robotics. Anyone who works with kids can do LEGO Robotics, a rich and highly motivating platform for important STEM Learning! (surprisingly affordable, too) This books explains it all!

STUDENT ROBOTICS: Robots + Kids = STEM Learning + Character & Social Development + Creativity Nourished & Unleashed

A couple of videos that speak a million words... I'm always impressed by the affect, the expression of genuine curiosity; the intense engagement in learning, doing, and making; the spirit of collaboration; and the pleasure in learning, discovering, and accomplishing that accompanies activities for kids when they are involved in robotics projects.

Girls love robots as much as boys do. Robotics is a great way to support girls with STEM Learning

It's easy to get started providing this variety of learning to kids. The book I wrote for ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) explains it all.


Click on book cover for information

Click on book cover for information
Getting Started with LEGO Robotics. Anyone who works with kids can do LEGO Robotics, a rich and highly motivating platform for important STEM Learning! (surprisingly affordable, too) This books explains it all!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

LEGO's Robot Programming App

Found in my "in box" this morning...

"Lego Demonstrates New Robot-Programming App"  

"Today at the SXSWedu Conference in Austin, Lego Education demonstrated a new EV3 programming app for use with its Mindstorms Education EV3 platform. The combination of a physical EV3 robot and the app is designed to allow teachers and students to get started in robotics within a 45-minute classroom period.
The app, which will be available this month, includes the following supporting materials:
  • Quick start videos and six step-by-step Robot Educator tutorials that provide a guide to the programming and hardware functionalities;
  • building instructions for the Robot Educator model; 
  • a user guide and teacher introduction pages; and 
  • nine robotics lesson plans that link to local curriculum standards and suggest possible assessment areas
The app, which will be available through the Apple iTunes app store and Lego Education downloads, is currently only compatible with iOS-based tablets and. Versions in other languages will be available in June..."

See the full article at its source:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cute and Strong, This Robot Bear Will Take Care of the Elderly

"Robear: the bear-shaped nursing robot who'll look after you when you get old

Japanese robot can lift patients from beds into wheelchairs or help them to stand up, promising ‘powerful yet gentle care’ for the elderly

A number of companies have explored the idea of humanoid robots as future home-helpers for elderly people. The latest experiment from Japan is distinctly more bear-shaped, though.
Meet Robear, an experimental nursing-care robot developed by the RIKEN-SRK Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research and Sumitomo Riko Company.
Unveiled this month, the robot is designed to lift patients out of beds and into wheelchairs, as well as helping those who need assistance to stand up. Robear weighs in at 140kg, and is the successor to heavier robots RIBA and RIBA-II.

“We really hope that this robot will lead to advances in nursing care, relieving the burden on caregivers today,” said Toshiharu Mukai, leader of the project’s robot sensor systems research team.
“We intend to continue with research toward more practical robots capable of providing powerful yet gentle care to elderly people....”

Read the full article at its source:

Monday, March 2, 2015

NAO Robot as Assistant Teacher? Why NOT???

The developers and purveyors of these robots keep insisting that the purpose of robots in our schools is to 'teach about robots, themselves', that they are a way to have students learn about technology, but I wonder.......

Hey, he's got more energy (so long as you keep him charged, I suppose), and more patience than I had during my 18 years in the Middle School Classroom. No, he could never replace me, but he certainly could be a much, much, much appreciated extra pair of eyes, hands, ears, and a responsive voice that would free me up to do more of what I'm better at than  he: rising to the challenge of teachable  moments that get at higher order thinking-based exchanges between teachers and students.

Will Student Robotics Today = Successful Individuals Tomorrow? Looking at the Pew Research Center Report

"Our educational system is not adequately preparing us for work of the future..."

"AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs

Key Findings

The vast majority of respondents to the 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing anticipate that robotics and artificial intelligence will permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025, with huge implications for a range of industries such as health care, transport and logistics, customer service, and home maintenance. But even as they are largely consistent in their predictions for the evolution of technology itself, they are deeply divided on how advances in AI and robotics will impact the economic and employment picture over the next decade.

We call this a canvassing because it is not a representative, randomized survey. Its findings emerge from an “opt in” invitation to experts who have been identified by researching those who are widely quoted as technology builders and analysts and those who have made insightful predictions to our previous queries about the future of the Internet. (For more details, please see the section “About this Report and Survey.”)

Key themes: reasons to be hopeful

  1. Advances in technology may displace certain types of work, but historically they have been a net creator of jobs.
  2. We will adapt to these changes by inventing entirely new types of work, and by taking advantage of uniquely human capabilities.
  3. Technology will free us from day-to-day drudgery, and allow us to define our relationship with “work” in a more positive and socially beneficial way.
  4. Ultimately, we as a society control our own destiny through the choices we make.

Key themes: reasons to be concerned

  1. Impacts from automation have thus far impacted mostly blue-collar employment; the coming wave of innovation threatens to upend white-collar work as well.
  2. Certain highly-skilled workers will succeed wildly in this new environment—but far more may be displaced into lower paying service industry jobs at best, or permanent unemployment at worst.
  3. Our educational system is not adequately preparing us for work of the future, and our political and economic institutions are poorly equipped to handle these hard choices.
Some 1,896 experts responded to the following question:
The economic impact of robotic advances and AISelf-driving cars, intelligent digital agents that can act for you, and robots are advancing rapidly. Will networked, automated, artificial intelligence (AI) applications and robotic devices have displaced more jobs than they have created by 2025?
Half of these experts (48%) envision a future in which robots and digital agents have displaced significant numbers of both blue- and white-collar workers—with many expressing concern that this will lead to vast increases in income inequality, masses of people who are effectively unemployable, and breakdowns in the social order.

The other half of the experts who responded to this survey (52%) expect that technology will not displace more jobs than it creates by 2025. To be sure, this group anticipates that many jobs currently performed by humans will be substantially taken over by robots or digital agents by 2025. But they have faith that human ingenuity will create new jobs, industries, and ways to make a living, just as it has been doing since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

These two groups also share certain hopes and concerns about the impact of technology on employment. For instance, many are concerned that our existing social structures—and especially our educational institutions—are not adequately preparing people for the skills that will be needed in the job market of the future. Conversely, others have hope that the coming changes will be an opportunity to reassess our society’s relationship to employment itself—by returning to a focus on small-scale or artisanal modes of production, or by giving people more time to spend on leisure, self-improvement, or time with loved ones..."

Read the full report at its source: 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What's Student Robotics Good For? More than You Might Think... MUCH MORE!!!

Here's a remarkable video about a school that has a remarkable student robotics program. This gets at SO much more than just a terrific STEM Learning Experience. There is an important citizenship and social understanding and action aspect to this. I can't imagine that we could come up with a better application for STEM learning than what's revealed in this video. Better still, students learn to improve their world through learning their STEM content and skills! Bravo, Crescent School!!! NOTE: this video takes about a minute and fifteen seconds to get to the point, though... you may want to advance the player and begin around 1:18 seconds in...