Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Octopus Inspires World's First Soft, Autonomous Robot

It's cheap to 3-D print, moves under its own power—and doesn't hurt if it bumps into you. Meet octobot, herald of a robotics revolution."

It's cheap to 3-D print, moves under its own power—and doesn't hurt if it bumps into you. Meet octobot, herald of a robotics revolution."

This story appears in the May 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.

"Banish your preconceptions of robots as stiff, herky-jerky metal machines. An “octobot” less than three inches wide is changing the robotics landscape.

The octobot is the world’s first completely soft, autonomous, and untethered robot. It is free of wires, batteries, and any hard material—like its namesake, the octopus, which has no internal skeleton.
A Harvard University research team led by engineering professors Robert Wood and Jennifer Lewis tried more than 300 designs before they came up with one that worked. And now the octobot could revolutionize the use of robots. Traditional robots are “fantastic for what they do in terms of automation, but they’re not geared toward human interaction,” Wood says. Soft robots provide a safer solution: “If they run into something, it’d be like bumping into a basketball. It won’t hurt you.”

Before the octobot, soft robots were either hybrids—pliable exteriors with hard guts of batteries or wires—or soft models tethered to an external cord. The octobot eliminates these restrictions. It moves by pneumatic power: An internal circuit triggers chemical reactions, turning its liquid hydrogen peroxide fuel into a gas, which inflates the robot’s limbs and allows them to move. The whole assembly is created from silicone using a 3-D printer.
The octobot is currently a prototype, but its writhing arms prove that the technology works. The goal, says Wood, is to find viable applications, such as in health care. Soft robots could be made from biocompatible and biodegradable materials—and, he says, might even be formed into capsules to be swallowed for more effective and less invasive endoscopies..."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Robotics Promotes a Culture of Creativity in the Classroom

A VERY worthwhile piece from Tech & Learning:

"3 Reasons Why Robotics Promotes a Culture of Creativity in the Classroom"
4/14/2017 5:50:00 AM
By Guest Blogger Lynne Boucher

"To meet the challenges of the modern workplace, today’s education is calling for curriculum that integrates STEM learning and creative problem solving in the classroom. I have found that creativity in the classroom is better harnessed when it is encouraged and is critical for today’s students, particularly when using robotics.
Below are the top three reasons I believe robotics can promote a culture of creativity in your classroom, ultimately helping propel the next generation of innovators forward:

1. Robotics offers a new idea of what creativity looks like
One common misconception about creativity that many of my students have is that to be creative, you need to have a knack for drawing, painting or storytelling. What I try to teach through robotics is what I believe the true definition of creativity is: doing or thinking about things differently. I recently needed to help my middle school students understand what a two-stage rocket is and why it is important to modern rocketry.  The challenge I gave them was to get a marshmallow as far across the floor as possible using a two-stage concept.  Students had to build a device that could be robotically activated for the first stage which was a 5’ foot distance, the robot then had to deploy a second force to continue moving the marshmallow to the greatest distance possible.  

By being creative as teachers and incorporating robotics into our lesson plans, we can show students that it is possible for creativity to go hand in hand in math, science, coding and more.

2. Open-ended challenges reveal there can be multiple solutions for a given problem 
Robotics frequently present open-ended challenges that do not lead to single solution. Forcing students to experiment changes the way they think about approaching problems, and encourages them to get creative. Another challenge I conducted in the classroom involved moving tethered robots across a finish line without the use of human force. One group in this challenge created straws with the available materials so they could blow their robots across the finish line. This prompted an interactive discussion and “light bulb” moments where students think creatively within the parameters of a problem.  

3. Students learn the importance of taking risks 
Students who are not exposed to open-ended challenges can struggle with going against the conventional structure of a classroom, and will often search for what they perceive to be a single “correct” answer. It is important to reinforce to these students that the core of creative thinking involves an element of risk. During a study of famous artists I did with my 4th and 5th graders, students had to choose a work of art and then problem solve how to make that art work move using gears, servos, and programming.  These students had very little to no experience with robotics so this was a bit frustrating for them at first as they learned the basics of robotics engineering.  We had many of what of my students called “epic fails,” but the key was that they kept trying new things. This is what risk-taking is all about!.."

Read the full article at its source:

"Lynne Boucher is the STEAM Director and Educator at Viera Charter School and a LEGO Education Ambassador Program (LEAP) teacher."

Friday, April 21, 2017

NY Yankees to Honor Morris High School FIRST Robotics Team for 16th Consecutive Year

In my In Box today from Gary Israel... 

Dear Family and Friends,

The NY Yankees will honor the Morris High School FIRST Robotics team on Tuesday May 2 at 6:45pm on the field during a pregame ceremony prior to the 7:05pm ball game against the Toronto Blue Jays. This will be the 16th year in a row that the team has been honored on the field at Yankee Stadium. ;

This will be our ninth year on the field at the new stadium (2009-2017) (Photos 6-9)
In the old Yankee Stadium the team was honored for seven years (2002-2008) (Photos 3-5)
The team was invited to the 2006 groundbreaking ceremony for the new stadium. (Photos 1-2)

During this year's pregame ceremony the stadium public address announcer will tell the crowd that at 2017 ;New York City FIRST Regional Robotics Competition held at the NYC Armory Track in March,the Morris Robotics team reached the quarterfinals. In addition Paul Lucien, one of the team's lead engineer won the Woodie Flowers Award which is presented to an outstanding mentor in the robotics competition who best leads, inspires, teaches, and empowers their team using excellent communication skills.
(Photo 10)

In addition to being honored on the field every year since 2002, the Yankees organization has supported the team so we have been able to compete in Houston, Orlando, Kennedy Space Center, Atlanta, St. Louis, Washington D.C, Richmond, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rochester, Hartford, and of course for 16 years in NYC.

Warm regards,
PS.There are over 3,000 FIRST Robotics Teams in the U.S and around the world and I am proud to say that we are the only team that has permission to use the Yankee logo on our shirts, hats etc.

  Groundbreaking Ceremony at sight of New Yankee Stadium 2006
Photo 1
Groundbreaking Ceremony at sight of New Yankee Stadium 2006
Photo 2
Our first year in the Old Yankee Stadium 2002
Photo 3
Old Yankee Stadium 2005
Photo 4
Old Yankee Stadium 2005
Photo 5
New Yankee Stadium
Photo 6
 ; New Yankee Stadium
Photo 7

New Yankee Stadium
Photo 8
New Yankee Stadium
Photo 9
   Paul Lucien (in red shirt) and members of the 2017 FIRST Robotics Team
Photo 10