Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Robotics Competition Jump Starts Student Creativity

Good piece from Jewish Journal

"Robotics Competition Kicks Student’s Creativity Into Gear"

 
https://youtu.be/IMuE4PKosys

"Participants from 88 countries take part in FIRST Lego League (FLL) regional tournaments around the globe — presenting functional robots and comprehensive research on real-world issues such as food safety, recycling and renewable energy.


And thousands of those competitors and their mentors — from at least 52 of those countries — rely on the online resources created by Jared Hasen-Klein, an 18-year-old senior at Milken Community Schools, to prepare.


“I just created stuff that didn’t exist for me,” said Hasen-Klein, who began competing in FLL as a 9-year-old. “It’s really cool to see all of the countries on a map when I look at my analytics.”


Hasen-Klein said he created his website, hub.jaredhk.com, in 2015 to serve an important need for competitors in the distinguished science and robotics program dreamed up by the toymaker Lego and the nonprofit For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). Together, they’ve held more than 1,400 competitions since 1998 for kids ages 9 to 14.

The problem: a lack of resources made available online for competitors to help with understanding the rules and improving performance. Hasen-Klein’s site not only features the rules — which often take too long to be updated on the competition’s website, he said — but offers games to test knowledge of the rules, printable resources like scoring sheets that teams can use during practice sessions, and scoring calculators.

There’s even an online form that competition referees started using on their phones to transfer scores electronically rather than using pen and paper and running notes over to scoring panels.


On a recent weekend, Hasen-Klein even hosted an all-day workshop at Milken for 65 visiting students and teachers taking part in local FLL regional tournaments to provide an overview of the judging process and answer questions.


“What really sets Jared apart is his initiative to go a step further and offer help wherever it’s needed,” said Stephen Shapiro, Hasen-Klein’s robotics manager at Milken.


Wendy Ordower, Milken’s director of service learning, said Hasen-Klein is prone to this type of selfless donation of his time. He volunteered as a digital expert giving whatever spare time he had to Milken’s school paper, The Roar, for two years before eventually writing for them.


“He does all of this because he just says it’s fun,” she said.


No one pays Hasen-Klein to provide these FLL resources, including the constant updates he makes to his website in advance of regional tournaments that take place each November. Still, he shrugged off the notion that he goes above and beyond.


“I’ve made it a priority to do this stuff. It’s rewarding knowing that people are using my resources. If I’m able to do it, why shouldn’t I do it?” he said.


As a fifth-grader at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge, Hasen-Klein stumbled upon his school’s robotics team when he realized sports and after-school acting programs weren’t for him.


“One of FIRST’s slogans is that robotics is the varsity sport where anyone can go pro. It’s so fun and it shows kids that maybe don’t necessarily fit in somewhere that there’s something for them,” he said. “You don’t have to come in with natural talent. You can learn it. It’s fair to say that was me.”


Now, besides competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), also operated by FIRST, for high school students with his Milken team, he co-coaches the Heschel team he first captained seven years ago. He also volunteers as a judge at competitions on many fall and winter weekends, including the FLL world championships, where he meets kids who use his site.


“When I attend the world championship, I walk around to the pit areas and do ‘market research,’ and it is always fun to hear from the teams that found my website,” he said.


Hasen-Klein’s expansive involvement with robotics has earned him several awards, including the Los Angeles Area Volunteer of the Year Award given to him by FIRST at last year’s FRC world championship in Houston.


Kathy Reynolds, who was Hasen-Klein’s first robotics coach at Heschel and now coaches with him there, gushed over her former pupil-turned-colleague.


“We are very proud of Jared for the gifts he brings to these organizations in the enormity of invested time, his generosity in sharing his expertise, and mostly his humble dedication as a role model,” she said.


One of the things Hasen-Klein finds most rewarding about helping kids prepare for FLL competitions is the potential impact he is having on kids passionate about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). FLL boasts on its website that its worldwide competitions essentially are producing “tomorrow’s innovators.” Hasen-Klein sees something similar at competitions he attends where youngsters tackle real-world issues.


“Being a judge at these competitions has been so cool. When you see the global innovations they are coming up with, it’s amazing and you wonder when they will be adopted by professionals. One that stuck out was do-it-yourself water filters for people in Third World countries or those affected by natural disasters,” he said. “These kids are getting real skills to go get STEM jobs in the future. It’s such a great starting point.”
As for his potential future in the STEM world, Hasen-Klein was mum.


“I still have no idea what I want to do,” he said. “I guess I’ll figure it out eventually.”


Read the article at its source: http://jewishjournal.com/culture/lifestyle/education/228665/robotics-competition-kicks-students-creativity-gear/  

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, December 18, 2017

"Elementary School Students Embracing Math and Science by Studying Robotics"

Nice piece from WJTV 12 News

Elementary school students from all over Forrest County gathered at Oak Grove Lower Elementary School on Monday night for the local VEX IQ challenge finals.

For the uninitiated, the VEX IQ challenge is a world-wide program that helps kids learn and get excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM for short.
Nadine Amaya is the Robotics Coach at Oak Grove Lower Elementary and she says that her students have really embraced robotics.

“Seeing them begging to come to Robotics practice during recess, after school, before school, ‘can we please work on our robot?’, ‘can we please work on our program?’, and seeing them so excited about learning makes it all worthwhile,” said Amaya.

Amaya says that all of the student’s build and program their own robots, and then use them to see who can get the most points playing different games.

Heidi Boudreaux says her daughter has already learned so much from this program.

“She’s definitely more outgoing, she’s definitely working as a team better, even just with her own brother,” said Boudreaux. “Like, I’ll see her in the bedroom being master-builders with their LEGOS and just like, I watch her teach him how to put things together.

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!

Friday, December 8, 2017

LEGO Robotics Kits - a good option for a kit-oriented resource for Student Robotics, Maker-learning, Learning Coding and Programming, Project Based Learning, etc.?



For Joe Videtto and other colleagues in the NYC school system:



What’s LEGO Robotics all about? Should teachers consider this a good option for a kit-oriented resource for Student Robotics, Maker-learning, Learning Coding and Programming, Project Based Learning, Digital Arts Projects, etc. etc?


Here are a few items that I think browsing through will shed some light quickly… and then, take a deeper dive into items that resonate!  I’ll supplement with more after a while.

MG
A)  Some very basics...

MINDSTORMS EV3 What's in the Box? – Support – LEGO Education

Mindstorms EV3 is a current version of LEGO Robotics kit materials - most commonly used in upper elementary and middle school, although higher grades sometimes make good use of them, too.

MINDSTORMS EV3 Classroom Management – Support – LEGO ...

10 Classroom Management Tips For WeDo 2.0 |
"WeDo" is a variety of LEGO Robotics kit materials for younger children


1)      This (free) webinar from School Library Journal took place recently… much of this is focused on the ELA/Literacy instructional connection, much of it involving robotics, LEGO and other materials…

Take the Plunge: STREAM November 16, 2017 at 03:00 PM EST.

http://www.slj.com/2017/10/webcasts/take-plunge-stream/#_
Use the link below to enter the webcast up to 15 minutes before the start.
Webcast Link: https://event.on24.com/wcc/r/1488046/32A5D4818E6DE5CDDEADD54C0ED130BA?

2)      The links below from my blog Classroom Robotics (LEGO Robotics specific posts are highlighted)   
  One of the best things for a teacher considering making LEGO Robotics part of what he/she does with students to do, is to get a broad overview of what's working elsewhere, what are other teachers doing successfully with the resource, and what sorts of things do kids do with them independently... to that end, why not enjoy spending a little time browsing through the links below?I've selected the following links (from among many more) as a kind of scattershot overview of the wide variety of activities, projects, applications, and ideas that are associated with LEGO Robotics for education.
Amazing, Expressive LEGO Robot That Kids Will Love.
https://www.weareteachers.com/the-ultimate-ideas-for-using-lego-mindstorms-education-bricks-in-the-classroom/ 

3) I'll include My ISTE Book ‘Getting Started with LEGO Robotics’ as a truly comprehensive item for absolute, green beginners, as well as those beyond - those relatively new to LEGO Robotics (or those who simply want more insights into how its done) and those who are coaches and professional development and curriculum specialists who want to support newbees in getting started. One of the themes in the book that has struck a chord is that it is entirely possible for a teacher who is not a 'techie' or in a subject or responsibility area that would easily relate to technology, to get started with just a little independent effort and the interest and cooperation of the students! … The book explains this as well as the materials and resources,  organizations that offer programs (like FIRST Lego League, etc.), classroom and materials management, curriculum connections across the curriculum, etc. etc. etc.(not a free option, but the book description on this page gives an overview  impression of this area for those unfamiliar with it - obviously the book, itself goes into great depth on the areas mentioned) click link below...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Robot Bird to Make Air Travel Safer

Cool OPINION piece/video from the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000005199904/robotic-birds-safer-air-travel.html?ribbon-ad-idx=12&rref=opinion&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article

 

Opinion

"Could Robotic Birds Lead to Safer Air Travel?

By SAMANTHA STARK, JAWAD METNI, SARAH KRAMER and JASON GREENE | Nov. 27, 2017 | 5:25
Birds and planes don’t mix — so some airports are testing whether drones (with flapping wings) can scare flocks away. We take you inside a trial program in Alberta, Canada..."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Augie Robot - Learning Coding / Augmented Reality - Pre-K through 6th grade

LEGO LIFE Social Network: Kids Sharing Creativity - 21st Century Style

Great article from Tech Crunch: https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/31/lego-life-is-a-new-social-network-where-kids-can-share-their-creations/

"LEGO Life is a new social network where kids can share their creations"



"Club Penguin may be shutting down, but there’s a new social network for kids arriving today from LEGO. The company known for its physical blocks and building sets is launching LEGO Life, a safe, online space where kids can share their LEGO creations, and connect with a broader community. Available as an iOS and Android application, the social network is aimed at those under the age of 13, with protections in place to ensure the site remains child-friendly.

According to the company, the idea for the network came about by watching how kids shared their creations in the LEGO Club Magazine’s “Cool Creations” section, and posted stories and photos of their LEGO building to the company’s message boards. LEGO Life means to translate that same activity to an online world, while also offering tools to inspire future building, ways to earn rewards, and a means of commenting on others’ creations.

LEGO Life can be personalized to the individual user, each of whom will have their own newsfeed that’s customized to their interests. Users are prompted to follow their favorite topics and groups, like those dedicated to animals, vehicles, superheroes, and more. The feed will include posts from LEGO Master Builders, as well, which will show off some of the more impressive creations.
Kids get to interact with some LEGO characters, including Master Wu from LEGO NINJAGO, and Emma from LEGO Friends, and LEGO BATMAN. These characters will appear on the network to comment on members’ builds, which are shared by way of photo uploads. The characters will also share other building inspiration, the company says.


There are also LEGO videos to watch, LEGO news updates, quizzes, and other activities.

As part of its safety features, LEGO Life includes its own custom emoji keyboard which kids use when they’re talking about their own creations or commenting on those from others. This keyboard replaces the text when commenting on the user-generated content, explains LEGO. That leaves little room for online bullying to take place, and these emoji comments are moderated.
To further keep kids protected, the network is locked down in a number of ways. The company says it worked with UNICEF on its set of safety features.


The app prohibits sharing of personal info or photos that could be used to identify or locate players, and users’ avatars are just customized LEGO characters. Kids can’t directly chat with each other, only comment. And kids’ user names are generated for them, using a random name generator that comes up with silly 3-word mixes, like “DukeCharmingShrimp” or “ChairmanWilyDolphin.”

Unlike other kids’ social networks, the site doesn’t sell memberships or ask you to pay for items, but it does feature ads for LEGO products.


LEGO Life is a free download in the iOS App Store and Google Play..."



Read the full article at its source:
https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/31/lego-life-is-a-new-social-network-where-kids-can-share-their-creations/

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!

More than Just STEM Learning: Unexpected Benefits of Robotics in the Classroom

Great article from Getting Smart! http://www.gettingsmart.com/2016/11/unexpected-benefits-robotics-in-the-classroom/ 

 

The Top Five Unexpected Benefits of Robotics in the Classroom

"As teachers, we’re well aware that STEM education is essential in preparing students for today’s world of non-stop innovation...

"...curriculum fads come and go, but the use of robotics in the classroom has proven to be a consistent and surefire way to teach students the STEM skills needed to prepare them for the future job market. I’ve seen firsthand how it teaches students 21st-century skills including coding, engineering and the scientific method in a fun and engaging way..."  There are so many other incredible things that students learn in addition to STEM curriculum. Here are five unexpected benefits:

1. Robotics can be a launching pad for students to realize their passions.
By going through the process of building a robot in the classroom, students explore many different learning pathways. It’s amazing to watch students’ passions grow in subjects that they never knew they would love.
Some of my students have cultivated an interest in 3D printing and coding, and have even gone as far as to take apart household appliances because they have a new-found interest in mechanics. You can watch these students build their own learning pathways because robotics offers them an open platform where they can decide where to go with their experimentations. For teachers, a robotics curriculum naturally allows us to take an individualized approach to each student’s learning, helping to nurture their passions even further.
2. A strong robotics curriculum can create leaders.
When students interact with robots in the classroom and make them perform various motions and tasks, your students’ different strengths will start to shine.
When assembling robots in teams, some students are great at speaking and can verbally bring ideas to life. On the flipside, there are students who may not be as vocal but they lead behind the scenes: they code, perform technical tasks and/or makes sure the team stays on task. Through the exercise of putting the robot together and making it move, these two types of students—both leaders in their own right—learn to communicate as a team and express their ideas to craft the best end result. The ability to come together as different types of leaders, communicate with each other and utilize their personal strengths will be essential throughout these students’ lives, no matter if they become an artist, a business executive or an engineer.
3. Robotics can teach students how to communicate across different technology platforms.
Social media has become a part of our everyday lives and using it is as innate for students today as using the telephone was when I was a teenager. There are plenty of good things about social media — but also many potential dangers and things that you want your students to avoid.
My classroom has a five-foot robot named Twitch. Twitch has his own Twitter account (@BMS_Theory) that the students update every day with what Twitch is doing or what we’re working on in class. As much as robotics teaches students how to code and flex their math and science muscles, it can also help show them how to navigate sending a tweet, how to write a blog post or respond when a company says, “we want you to test our product.”
Through this extension of robotics, my students are learning how to communicate across different technology platforms, understand the audience of these different platforms and gain experience crafting effective messages for the various audiences—a crucial skill that we all need to be familiar with, no matter what career path we follow.
4. Robotics can lead to community involvement.
I’ve personally seen the numerous benefits of student community involvement, including increased attendance, higher grades, a sense of greater security, fewer behavioral problems and an increase in positive attitudes about school and homework. However, I’ve also witnessed youth struggle to find positive ways to get involved with their communities and don’t know where to look for resources on how to get started.
Teaching robotics in the classroom can create a sense of community within the classroom that expands to the outside community in which you live. I’ve had students go out and present their robots at our local art museum and various technology fairs. It’s their show and their product, so the students naturally take ownership and pride over what is presented.
Through opportunities like these, students begin seeing robotics as more than a project for a grade but rather as a tool that can inspire others. Nine times out of ten, seasoned professionals build the robots they see on TV, and getting started can certainly feel intimidating. But when you have young students teaching others how to build robots, many will think to themselves, “I can do that.” The next thing you know, another mind is interested in STEM!
5. Robotics teaches essential teamwork skills.
The STEM skills that robotics teach are great for inspiring tomorrow’s engineers. However, I realize that not all of my students are going to work for NASA or even work in a science and math-related field. Yet some of the teamwork skills they learn through robotics are ones they will use for the rest of their life.
When students work in groups on a project with a robot they quickly see that technical skills, such as coding, are very important. However, their robot won’t move if they don’t know how to collaborate with others and communicate their ideas. Through robotics in the classroom, students learn how to express themselves and listen and relate to others— honing valuable life skills..."

Read the full article at its source: http://www.gettingsmart.com/2016/11/unexpected-benefits-robotics-in-the-classroom/

ALL Students Should Learn Robotics! - 5 Perfect Reasons Why

Five Reasons to Teach Robotics in Schools



"In today’s’ technology-driven world, it’s important now more than ever to prepare students for the future. Teaching robotics to young students throughout their schooling can increase their ability to be creative and innovative thinkers and more productive members of society. Many governments have already recognized the importance of robotics in the classroom and have begun to create programs and laws that would incorporate it into their public education system. By teaching our students the basics of robotics, we can open a whole new world to them and exciting opportunities that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.


1. An Introduction to Programming
Learning to program a computer is an excellent skill to have to make students more likely to get a job in the future, and earn more money in their lifetime. Teaching young students the abstract subject of programming can be a challenging feat. Programming is often too complex for most students to grasp. Robotics is a simpler to understand and more tangible introduction to programming.
When students program physical robots, it’s easier for them to see what goes wrong as they learn what robots can and cannot do. They learn the skills needed to create precise and accurate instructions and have fun while learning valuable lessons. Teaching robotics in schools gives students the opportunity to address the growing demand of teaching STEM subjects while learning how science, engineering, math, and technology work together and interact.
2. Increases Creativity
Robotics is a production-based learning module. Students have the opportunity to create something tangible and make it perform the actions that they program it to do. Not a lot of fields combine creativity with engineering and technology—robotics does. When students are given the opportunity to create something interactive that they think is cool, their engagement levels increase, and they retain more information. You might be surprised at the things kids can create when given the right information and tools.
3. Prepare them for the future
It’s no secret that jobs in the STEM field are the fastest growing careers, and are projected to grow another 17 percent in the next decade. Industries such as the drone industry has grown dramatically and rapidly in the last couple of years. The Economist has reported that more than 15,000 drones are being sold in the US every month. Growing industries such as these are going to need people who can come up with new and innovative ideas, and be equipped with the knowledge to design and create the technology needed.
By the time all of our students graduate in a few years or so, over half of the available jobs will be in the STEM field and a large chunk of the rest will require employees to have some STEM knowledge. When students are introduced to robotics in their school years, they can discover any interests and talents that they may have in this job market. Without the knowledge or access to robotics education, there’s no way for students to build interest in these fields. Without robotics education in public schools, who knows how many potential creators and innovators there are who were never given the resources to realize their potential.
4. Teaching Children How to Turn Frustration into Innovation
Learning how to build and program a robot can be a complex and difficult process. Many students will struggle with the concepts at first and often get frustrated. Robotics in schools can help these students turn their frustration into creativity and innovation. This is a valuable life lesson that teaches our students perseverance and determination when faced with challenges. Students learning robotics are able to channel their frustration into trying harder and aiming higher. All their hard work makes looking at that finished product even sweeter at the end. Not only does teaching students robotics teach them how to persist and solve problems, but it also helps them increase their maturity levels and prepare them for real-world situations.
5. Promoting Inclusivity
Robotics is a field that is easily accessible to a wide range of students with varying talents and skills. Studies have shown robots do a great job of engaging students on the autism spectrum. A child with autism are able to easily respond to the consistent, calm, and clean interactions that robots give them. Robots like ASK NAO and Milo have been developed to aid autistic students with learning and understanding their emotions.
Robotics is also a field that has the ability to empower young girls in the classroom. STEM-focused fields are traditionally male dominated, leaving young girls to question their ability to program or build computers. Because the tech world is not one that focuses on or is created for girls, by engaging them with robotics and technology in the classroom we can begin to change that..."

Read the full article at its source: http://www.thetechedvocate.org/five-reasons-to-teach-robotics-in-schools/

Students' World Robotic Olympiad DrawsKids from 66 countries to Costa Rica Event!

https://www.
scientificamerican.com/article/ldquo-sustainable-robots-rdquo-face-off-at-the-world-robotic-olympiad1/  >

"GUÁCIMA, ALAJUELA, Costa Rica—Hundreds of robots—some designed to play 3D Tetris or soccer, others to tackle some of Earth’s dire sustainability challenges—invaded this small Costa Rican town last weekend...

..The machines were accompanied by their creators: 2,500 competitors, ages six to 25, from more than 60 countries, at the 14th World Robot Olympiad (WRO) held Nov. 10–12. This was the first time in the event’s 14-year history that it was held outside Asia. As host, Costa Rica had to decide the competition’s theme and chose “Sustainabots”—robots designed to contribute to sustainability, conservation and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The conservation-minded Central American country, which has over 25 percent of its territory under protected areas, has launched official efforts to eventually become a carbon-neutral nation by drastically minimizing the use of fossil fuels for power generation and transportation.


Visitors strolling through the Olympiad’s exhibit booths found robotic approaches to reducing CO2 emissions from cars in streets of Mumbai; to quickly growing cattle feed without clearing land; and to venturing into the forest to count trees, map their locations, identify their species and determine dozens of other characteristics that might otherwise be carried out by a human botanist.



“For the youngsters, this is not only a way for them to view science and technology as something fun and playful, but also for them to see how science, technology and engineering can solve problems that we have as a planet—challenges such as climate change, renewable energies and sustainable tourism,” said Carolina Vásquez-Soto, Costa Rica’s Minister of Science, Technology and Telecommunications.
The competition venue—the 9,000-square-meter Parque Viva exhibit hall—rang with languages from around the world. But the competitors seemed to understand each other through a shared love of building and programming robots. “Our main objective is to make children and teenagers fall in love with science and technology. Robotics is one of many tools by which you can achieve that,” said Alejandra Sánchez, a mechanical and electrical engineer who teaches robotics at the University of Costa Rica and was a key organizer of the event.


The contest was not just about sustainability; one of its highlights was a robotic soccer tournament mimicking a FIFA World Cup. In front of bleachers covered in flags and fans from their resepective homelands, teams from some 60 countries—each represented by two soccer-playing robots—faced each other. The winners of each match advanced to the next round until the final game was won by Taiwan, playing under the name “Chinese Taipei.” At another popular event, college students unleashed their robots to score as many points as possible in “Tetrastack,” a real-world, three-dimensional version of the video game Tetris.
Meanwhile, elementary and high school students minded robots (built using Lego Mindstorm pieces) that took on challenges related to sustainable tourism, carbon neutrality, and renewable and clean energy. Russia was the big winner, taking home the gold in all three categories.


According to Sánchez, the $1.2-million Olympiad received support from the Costa Rican government and private local sponsors. It was organized by Aprender Haciendo (Learn Through Doing)—the representative of LEGO education for Costa Rica and Panama—in collaboration with the National Center for High Technology and the country’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications. Next year the World Robotic Olympiad will be hosted by Thailand.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kamegami: biologically inspired foldable "toy" robot bugs may lay good groundwork for Robotics learning in school




Even  thought its great that kids get to learn Robotics in school, how wonderful that they also have the opportunity to learn at home. This variety from Mattel is to be offered at a variety of retail outfits. How great it will be when kids commonly come to school already knowing a good deal about robots ...and school, instead of them starting them at square one, builds on their homegrown knowledge and takes them... much further!

Very nice review (below) from TechCrunch:  https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/11/mattel-releases-biologically-inspired-foldable-robot-toys/

"Mattel releases biologically inspired foldable robot bugs




Mattel’s been taking great pains to update its product lines for a plugged-in generation of kids. Last month, the toy maker teamed up with Osmo for an iPad-ready update to its popular Hot Wheels line, and now the company is enlisting the help of another tech startup, Dash Robots. The pair’s first collaboration is Kamigami, a robotics platform that lets kids build their own robotic bugs.
Due out on Target store shelves today, the toy features a six-legged robotic kit that should take roughly an hour to assemble, using foldable plastic sheets. Each also comes with a different origami shell that turns them into various bugs, like mantises, ladybugs and scorpions.
Both Dash and its first major consumer product are an outgrowth of U.C. Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, which draw inspiration from nature to build more efficient robotics. 



“We had shown off our robots at schools and outreach events to show off what robotics research is like,” cofounder Nick Kohut tells TechCrunch. “Kids just went totally nuts for them and the parents were asking where they could buy them. So we started selling them on our own and had some mild success.”
Dash began life as a UCB spinoff by selling its own kit for $65 a pop, ultimately teaming up with Mattel to help mainstream the product. For obvious pricing and kid-friendly reasons, Kamigami isn’t particularly complex, as far as biomimetic robots go, but the product does draw inspiration from its biological counterparts. The connection is particularly apparent in the product’s locomotion, using a stiff-legged gait to move quickly across a surface. 

Each $50 robot features an accelerometer, gyroscope and an IR transmitter and receiver that allow them to interact with their surroundings and one another for games like freeze tag and “sumo,” in which they relentlessly bash into one another. They can also be controlled remotely through the mobile app, or preprogrammed with a basic coding application designed to teach some programming basics..."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trashbots: Inexpensive Robotics Kits for Students

Trashbots Aims to Bring Inexpensive Robotics Kits to Students



In remote and impoverished areas of the world, teaching children science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM skills can involve a lot of expensive resources.


It requires computers, labs, buildings, high-speed Internet, power supplies, and pricey robotics kits with trained instructors.


That’s a problem Rohit and Sidharth Srinivasan saw first-hand during four trips to three Indian orphanages from 2013 to 2016 to teach kids STEM skills. They went on the trips with the Austin-based Miracle Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports orphans worldwide.


And Paul Austin, ex-chief architect of National Instruments, witnessed the same thing during visits to orphanages in Africa and India from 2011 to 2016.


From teaching in India, Rohit Srinivasan and his brother learned that the kids there were very smart, but they completely lacked in creativity and problem-solving skills.


Also, the current STEM programs weren’t easy to replicate.
“We needed a way to go about scaling STEM programs for kids,” Rohit Srinivasan said.
Teaching STEM skills to kids is a problem even in the U.S. at schools with very tight budgets, he said.
Teachers need to find ways to teach robotics easily and affordably in the U.S. and worldwide, said Austin. During his 28-year career at National Instruments, Austin helped create the Lego Mindstorms NXT and EV3, programmable robotics kits used in classrooms today.


In Austin, the Srinivasan brothers joined forces with Paul Austin to found Trashhbots in spring of 2016 to create robotics kits and a curriculum that costs around $80 per kit and can be controlled through Bluetooth technology with a smartphone or tablet. They partnered with the Miracle Foundation, Science in a Suitcase and a board design shop called TenX to bring the project to life.


Trashbots requires minimal infrastructure, Rohit Srinivasan said.
There’s no need for web, cellular data, PCs or AC power supply, he said. Trashbots’ kits run on rechargeable batteries.


Trashbots did an initial test of its kits in India but officially did a much bigger launch at South by Southwest EDU in Austin in March of 2017. At that event, Trashbots won the student pitch competition and had a booth at the Expo where they received feedback from a lot of teachers.


In April, Trashbots was selected to joinTarmac Texas, a nine-month-long startup accelerator backed by 3M and CALSO and based at Galvanize. They have office space at Galvanize and they regularly meet with mentors and attend sessions to learn about building out their business.


Trashbots is far less expensive than pre-existing STEM and robotics kits and is easier to use than do it yourself kits, Rohit Srinivasan said.


“The do it yourself kits are lower cost but require a huge amount of work to go in and teach how to use the technologies,” Sidharth Srinivasan said.


Trashbots’ kit components include the Trashbot brain, software, components, curriculum, and trash or items sourced from the local environment such as water bottles, rubber bands, sticks, tape, PVC pipes and more, said Sidharth Srinivasan..."

Read the full article at its source: http://www.siliconhillsnews.com/2017/10/09/trashbots-aims-bring-inexpensive-robotics-kits-students/