Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Eric the Robot is Missing - Will You Help Bring Him Back?

"UK's first-ever robot will be brought back to life after mysterious disappearance

The robot, named Eric, was one of the first robots built when it was made in 1928.

The public have been asked to help fund an ambitious project to rebuild the UK’s first ever robot.
The robot, named Eric, was originally built in 1928 but mysteriously went missing, never to be found.
The Science Museum and expert roboticist Giles Walker have launched a project to bring Eric back to life after discovering his story while researching for an upcoming exhibition.."

Read the full article at its source: 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

10 MOST AMAZING Lego Machines

I've said it time and time again... LEGO Robotics materials are NOT TOYS! Take a look at these mechanical creations made with the same materials that fuel student robotics activities in our schools!!! Looking at these examples it's easy to see why students are so motivated to design, construct, and program their own machines and robots - and why this is such a powerful platform for STEM/STEAM learning!


10 MOST AMAZING Lego Machines

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!

Building robots develops ELL students' academic vocabulary

"Building robots develops ELL students' academic vocabulary" 
English-language learning students at an Arizona elementary school are building language and academic skills by building robots in an after-school club. The hands-on activity better engages students and helps them to tackle advanced vocabulary, fourth-grade teacher Thelma Whaling said.
KPNX-TV (Phoenix) (5/1)  For news video click>>>


Wonder Workshop Launches Wonder League Robotics Clubs to Inspire Future Inventors

Wonder Workshop, creators of robots that teach students foundational skills in computer coding, invites schools to participate in the newly announced Wonder League Robotics Clubs, the first network of clubs in elementary schools for coding and robotics. The school district that gets the highest percentage of schools participating by July 10, 2016 will receive a $10,000 grant in Wonder Store credit to help fund their clubs.
“Robotics is the new team sport for our youngest learners,” said Vikas Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Wonder Workshop. “We want to extend a worldwide community of Wonder League clubs to inspire the creators of tomorrow through robotics and coding. Launching a club helps students develop problem solving and creativity skills, build meaningful relationships with their peers and have fun as they explore STEM.”

Wonder League Robotics Clubs are open to students between the ages of 6 and 12, and no previous experience in coding and robotics is required. Teachers will need one Dash & Dot set for every group of three students in order to get started. Wonder Workshop provides a Getting Started Guide for Dash & Dot as well as materials to assist in club promotion, a guide to help schools secure funding for Dash & Dot robots, an activity guide with new coding challenges released every two weeks and access to a network of fellow club leaders throughout the nation.

Every year, the clubs participate in the worldwide Wonder League Robotics Competition, which attracted 1,150 teams (and 5,000 students) from 48 states during 2015, its inaugural year. The competition, which will begin on October 3, 2016 and end on December 12, 2016, will divide clubs into two age brackets and includes a first-place prize of a STEM grant for a school or nonprofit of the team’s choice. This year, the competition will guide students through lessons that focus on how to conserve energy, water and waste and minimize effects on the environment.

In addition to the $10,000 Wonder Store grant, Wonder Workshop will give free Wonder League t-shirts to the first 1,000 clubs to register, and will pick five clubs each week to receive a Dash & Dot combo pack between May 10 and July 10, 2016.

To receive information on how to launch Wonder League Robotics Clubs at your school, visit

Monday, May 9, 2016

Student Robot Builders Battle in FIRST Medieval Competition

Student Robot Builders Battle to Win FIRST Stronghold Competition 

"Student Robot Builders Battle in FIRST Medieval - Themed Competition"

Read the following article in full at its source:

"More than 20,000 student inventors and their armed robots battled for medieval-themed strongholds over four days of brisk competition at last week’s FIRST Championship.

Citrus Circuits from Davis Senior High School, in Davis, California, work on their robot at FIRST Robotics competition in St. Louis.
Citrus Circuits from Davis Senior High School, in Davis, California, work on their robot at FIRST Robotics competition in St. Louis.
Five of the 20 high school teams we backed in this year’s competition were among the 600 teams in St. Louis for the finals with their battle-ready robots. At stake: $25 million in college scholarships.
Our 2016 teams, which this year included one from Israel and three all-girl groups, built robots around FIRST’s theme of capturing a castle tower stronghold. Teams competed in regional events to reach the final competition, aided in part by our Jetson TX1 or TK1 embedded computing developer kits.
Designed to drive student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the competitions are run by FIRST, a nonprofit founded more than two decades ago by Segway inventor Dean Kamen.

Build a Bot

We also co-sponsored a FIRST alumni event that included mentors, coaches and teams that had received various honors during the competition. The event included opportunities to talk to students about internship opportunities and careers at NVIDIA.
This year, the entire FIRST robotics competition drew in 75,000 students on more than 3,000 teams from two dozen countries. Teams were challenged to fundraise, show how they worked together, create their brand, and design, build and program a robot that performed robust tasks against competitors.
The teams could take part in other mini-competitions run by companies attending the event. We offered prizes from our booth for students who “Snapped a Selfie with a Jetson TX1” and hosted demos on deep learning and games for kids to play..."

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, May 2, 2016

Indigogo... Making the World More Beautiful One Nail at a Time

Preemadonna's Nail Art Robot, The Nailbot: Part 1 Crowdfunding

Here's a trio of videos that strike me so positively. As a career educator and lifelong observer of the human condition, so much of what I come across illustrates the bad shape our species is in and intimates a prognosis for more of the same or worse. Here, though, I've stumbled across something so innocent, but with such implications for hope; hope that healthy creativity will carry us down a better path. And I'm happy to say that it is the concerns and efforts of girls and young woman that are highlighted here. Surprising? I don't think so...

True, although it is ubiquitous, nail polish is not the most important enterprise we humans engage in. Heart Surgery, issues of law and governance, food production and the like are infinitely more important. At least from the view point of immediate impact on human prosperity and well being. Still, these videos make us witnesses to expressions of human life that merit our attention and appreciation. And it is in the serendipity of  finding laudable qualities in such a naive field of endeavor that makes our watching and paying attention to these all the more encouraging.

These videos are all about technology, innovation, communication, visual expression and above all entrepreneurship. One of the oldest and truest dictums of business is the eternal chestnut "Find a need and fill it!" and to that we can throw in "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door!" Sage wisdom from a bygone age, but that's what I see in these videos.

With the nailbot we see a couple of young women (early 20's) who are swimming with grace and competence is the churning sea of contemporary business start-ups. So clear is their vision, though, so strong the energy and enthusiasm that they muster and apply to winning at this that they had me at "Hello, Indiegogo!"

Indiegogo, by the way, is the brilliant web-based service that catapults entrepreneurship into the 21st Century allowing those with a great idea, a passion to apply it to changing the world, and in general the 'right stuff' to reach out to masses of total strangers inviting them to invest in their item or service... 'Crowd Funding!' Part of this is personal; investors want explanations of what they are to put their faith and money into and want to see who it is who's behind it. YouTube is the tool of choice 'gogo-ers' use to make their pitch and this video is one of those pitches. A damn good one. True, I'm a sucker for a pretty face, an articulate voice, a great story, and a winning idea, highly prejudiced in favor of them, in fact :)

Nailbot: Instant Nail Art 

In this video we see the same young woman further along in the process. Having developed the  product, the company are now releasing it, announcing it to the world at the Tech Crunch 2015 event. This one includes a demo and explanation and communicates the excitement of a live event.  (For more details see the online article from Tech Crunch: ) Want to buy the nailbot? As of this writing the only offer I could find is from the website of the company itself which was taking names for its waiting list. Pretty cool, I think!

Easy Nails Nail Spa | Tutorial | Kids Toy Review 

This final video is quite an eye opener. And small wonder that it's scored more than 9 million views in the half year it's been up on YouTube.  Has this kid thoroughly been inculcated into the slick, 'look at me' culture of the kind of commercial television epitomized by The Shopping Channel? And no, asking that question is not a stealthy way of expressing distaste for that truth. After all, children become aware of the world they find themselves maturing in and have to figure out what to do about being there. Seeing the world as a wave to catch and ride is as legitimate a response as any, I suppose. At least in part.


 At any rate, here we have a TV spokesman for a product (9 years old? 10?) whose done a bang-up job of introducing and demoing this product. This product, while bearing the aesthetics of a toy intended to be marketed to pre-teens, is actually a real working robot that is quite capable of doing a little girls nails. Our kids are growing up in a world that is already highly impacted by robots. Understanding robotics and its impact on a variety of dimensions of human life is a crucial and almost completely overlooked aspect of the education we are currently offering our kids. Whether you like the colors offered here, think that adding silver glitter to still wet polish is beautiful or not, I think that this is very much the sort of thing we need to be offering our kids as they figure out the world we are all inventing on the fly as we grow into it. Does your kid have a robot? Why not?