Saturday, September 30, 2017

Kids Should Join a Robotics Team

There are far more than 5 good reasons... Still, this is a very nice article from LA Times:

"5 reasons your child should join a robotics team

As students prepare to head back to school this fall, the pressure is on for parents and teachers to find activities that keep kids entertained and productive. One trend that’s picking up steam is robotics.
"Robotics competitions are a great way to not only keep kids engaged after classes end, but to provide invaluable learning above and beyond what they can get in a typical classroom setting,” says Don Bossi, president of FIRST, a STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) advocacy nonprofit. “One of the biggest benefits is that kids get set up to find professional success, but they have a lot of fun while doing it.”
FIRST is a sport for the mind where every kid can go pro, and its students are even recognized with varsity letters in many states. Millions of students have participated in FIRST’s hands-on programs for kids ages 6-18, and alumni report improved problem-solving, time management, conflict resolution and communication skills. There are many more reasons to consider robotics programs for your child, and here are the top five.

1. They’ll learn to be creative and solve problems

Students must navigate restraints, including limited time and resources to meet deadlines and challenge requirements, but they won’t let that stop them. You’ll be amazed to see how each team comes prepared with a different solution to the same problem — including the innovative ways teams design and build their robots.

2. They’ll master teamwork and collaboration

Just like any other team sport, camaraderie is developed in robotics, too. Students work together to solve problems and meet goals. Plus, there’s a role for everyone: team responsibilities range from engineering and coding to fundraising and marketing. By working with others and integrating ideas born from teammates’ diverse backgrounds and schools of thought, students learn the true meaning of collaboration.

3. They’ll find meaningful role models
Educators and parents play a large role in robotics teams, but other STEM professionals are just as crucial. Many teams have relationships with local engineers, computer scientists, marketers and more who lend their expertise and guide students through construction and competition. These relationships often lead to internships, networking opportunities and jobs down the line. Many students pay it forward, too, and mentor their old teams once they graduate.

4. They’ll make friends for life
Robotics is a great way for kids to meet new friends, whether they’re teammates or competitors. Some competitions are international and draw students from upwards of 30 countries, making them great opportunities to expand your students’ worldview.

5. They’ll lay the groundwork for their future career
There’s a shortage of skilled STEM workers in the U.S.: In 2016, 13 STEM jobs were posted for each unemployed worker, a difference of nearly 3 million available positions. No matter which STEM field students aspire to, there’s an opportunity to hone their skills through robotics. Even if a STEM-focused career isn’t where they envision themselves, kids can gain valuable fundraising, marketing and event experience. Most importantly, robotics inspires a lifetime love of learning that is critical to success in an ever-changing workforce.
Robotics provides kids with the technical and interpersonal skills they’ll need to influence the future economy and become well-rounded adults, and it’s never too early to get involved. With high-quality education, mentorship and opportunities, any kid can find a future in STEM."

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Resources for Student Robotics

Here's a very nice collection of Robotics Resources that was sent in by reader Louisa - Thanks, Louisa!

The items below are all found on their originator's site:

"... Robotics Teaching Resources

Teaching robotics isn’t something that requires a captive audience. Instead, it’s a subject that lends itself to well to the inquiring minds of students. Find plenty of ideas and plans below to help you get started.
Robotics Lesson Plans – Find lesson plans with math, science and technology components for students from K-12, courtesy of NASA.
STEM Robotics Repository for Educational Materials – Teachers, afterschool coaches and other educational faculty members can apply for a free account to access all the educational materials this resource has to offer.
LEGO EV3 Online Courses – This site offers 10 links to free online courses that are specifically for the LEGO EV3 system.
Robot BASIC – Two retired college professors authored this free robotics resource that serves to teach young students to program.
How to Teach Robotics – This informative article from The Guardian offers several teaching ideas and links to robotics resources for different grade levels.

Robotics Study Resources

Discover valuable resources for educational robotics courses, e-books and tutorials below. Best of all, they are free.
Begin Robotics – If you begin and complete this 12-hour course in 14 days, it’s free! Use it to explore the history, anatomy and intelligence of robots.
21 Free Robotics Courses – Choose from 21 free courses that are divided into the following categories: Introduction to Robotics, Drones and Aerial Robotics, Movements, Sensors and Actuation, Learning and Cognition and Applications and Programming.
Robotics Tutorials – Browse this site to find tutorials for people with beginning, intermediate and advanced robotics skills.
Robotics EBooks – Browse seven pages of free robotics e-book selections for downloading and reading at your leisure.
Educational Robots for Absolute Beginners (Lego NXT Edition) – This self-paced course allows anyone interested in learning or teaching about LEGO NXT robotics to do it for free.

Kid’s Robotics Resources

With the world of robotics rapidly becoming more relevant, giving kids opportunities to become involved and informed is a great idea.
Robots for Kids – Discover games, projects, quizzes, videos and facts about exciting robotics topics that are geared for kids.
State-Based Robotics Camps and After School Programs – Follow this link to locate robotics-based camps or after school programs by state. To get the most up-to-date information, contact the organization that is facilitating the camp or program. – This online community for kids allows them to learn tons of new skills – including robotics-based ones – via various projects and experiments.
Cool Coding Apps and Websites for Kids – From Common Sense Media comes this list of coding apps and websites for children of different ages and abilities.
Stem Works – Browse this interesting collection of robotics activities such as making a smart umbrella or engaging in a virtual robotics lab.

Robotics Organizations

The following organizations vary in their mission, but all have something in common, which is
an interest and dedication to the field of robotics.
KISS Institute for Practical Robotics – With a mission of improving the general public’s understanding of topics in science, tech, engineering and math, our nation’s schools and communities can’t help but benefit from the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics.
IEEE Robotics and Automation Society  – This society provides access to the most current information in robotics and automation. Opportunities to connect with peers are also offered.
Robogames – Robogames is the world’s biggest open robot competition. It’s held annually in San Mateo, California and features over 50 events.
The International Federation of Robotics – Established in 1987, this organization’s goal is to connect the world of robotics internationally. It also serves as the primary global resource for robotics data.
Robot Hall of Fame – Explore the landmark achievements in robotics technology via this hall of fame established in 2003 by Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science.
NASA Robotics for Alliance Projects – This organization strives to create resources that will advance the implementation of future robotic space exploration missions.
FIRST – FIRST seeks to inspire young people to pursue science and tech careers via mentor-based programs that will help them build important industry-specific skills.

Robotics News and Information Resources

Browse this section to discover one or more robotics news resources that you can rely on for current and well-reported information.
Science Daily – Since 1995, this American news website has provided articles on hundreds of science topics including robotics.
Robot Magazine – Enjoy the intrigue of robotics by keeping up to date on the latest advances, events, techniques and more in the world of robotics.
MIT News – Check out over 120 news articles based on robotics on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website.
Live Science – With comprehensive articles and interactive features, what’s not to like about this robotics news resource? Robotics News – is a favorite news resource for over 1.75 million researchers, engineers and scientists. Check it out to see why.

Robotics Blogs

Learn about the latest information and news in the robotics field via one of these helpful blogs.
Let’s Make Robots – This community site offers you the ability to learn about robots and technology and ask questions of others.
Automaton – As the IEEE Spectrum’s robotics blog, you can expect reliable information in the form of news, articles and videos.
Robotenomics – This blog explores the deeper issues that concern the robotics industry and the way the industry continues to evolve.
The Robot Report – Keep yourself informed regarding robotics industry news with The Robot Report as your guide.

Robotics Podcasts

Stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the robotics industry by making a standing commitment to listen to one or more of these podcasts each week.
Terrifying Robot Dog – Hosts Jonathan Stark and Kelli Shaver explore how technology is changing our relationship with our world.
Robots Podcast – Want news and opinions on robotics? Tune in to this podcast that features perspectives from leading pros in the field.
Robotics Trends Podcast – Join leading experts on this podcast to learn about current news and insights on robotics and AI.
This Week in Machine Learning and AI – Every other week, this podcast releases a new episode featuring an interview with an AI industry expert..."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Classroom Robot from Texas Instruments

"Texas Instruments Debuts Classroom Robot

Texas Instruments has unveiled the TI-Innovator Rover, a robot for use in middle and high school STEM classrooms.

Students can connect to Rover through the TI Innovator Hub with a TI-84 Plus CE or TI-Nspire CX graphing calculator and program the robot to draw, dance or crash. Other features of the robotic car include:
  • A color sensor;
  • A rechargeable battery;
  • A distance sensor;
  • An LED display;
  • A gyroscope; and
  • A marker holder for drawing on paper.
Girls Inc Dallas used Rover in a pilot and asked students to algebra and geometry to crash the robot or make it follow a line. "I'd give the Rover an A+, because I really, really love using it," said Mia Gonzales, a sophomore at Bishop Dunne Catholic High School, in a prepared statement. "It's more interactive than what you would usually do in a regular classroom with math; it's hands-on, very visual, and fun and exciting at the same time."

"Normally, I'm really distracted when it comes to math, but this was fun enough for me to pay attention," added Zamantha Romero, a freshman at Sunset High School, in a news release.

"We created Rover to demystify robotics and give students who might be intimidated by programming an easy on-ramp to learn to code," said Peter Balyta, president of TI Education Technology, in a prepared statement. "Given the sheer joy we have seen on students' faces as they learned to code during our testing phase, we are excited to see how Rover will inspire more young minds through an introduction to robotics."
The Rover is slated for availability in the United States and Canada this fall and in Europe early next year. For more information visit"

"New Kid-oriented Robot"

Good piece from CNET...

"Cue is a comedian trapped in a robot body

The new kid-oriented robot has four personalities to choose from and you can even have a text conversation with it.

Fancy a friendly game of soccer with your robot pal? San Mateo, California-based Wonder Workshop's new Cue robot will be your own personal David Beckham.

The kid-oriented Cue does bear a resemblance to Sphero's BB-8, but LED lights on its face give the robot more personality than the Star Wars droid.

It also has a more robust personality as users can choose one of four avatars, each with different character traits. You get one avatar out of the box then pay an extra $4.99 each to add the other three.

Send text messages to Cue through the app and it responds with sound, movement or snarky remarks depending on what you ask. You can also code Cue using block-based programming or Javascript.

Powered by an artificial intelligence engine, the more you interact with Cue the more it learns about you. It's a little like Anki's Cozmo robot that expresses emotions and changes how it responds based on your previous interactions.."

Best Robot Videos for KIDS!

Discover the very best robot videos YouTube has to offer - brought to you by National Geographic Kids!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Kindergarten STEM: Early​ ​Engineering​ ​with​ ​Programmable​ ​Robots

From EdTech Digest - Great article:   

"Putting the ‘Fun’ in Fundamental Concepts

"...Kids are naturally very curious, and I believe “joy of learning” is actually their default state. It’s only after they’ve been integrated with certain classroom expectations to sit quietly and follow instructions that some of that wonder starts to go away.
I try to make everything I teach fun by making sure there is always room for kids to experiment and make a project their own. That’s why the decision to teach robotics to our kindergartners was such an easy one.

We open the door for their exploration and let the children’s creativity and critical thinking lead the way.

At KID Museum in Bethesda, Maryland, we use robot kits and “coding blocks” specifically
designed for children ages four to seven to provide a fun and engaging introduction to basic coding concepts for young learners. The robots we use are called KIBO, and are customizable, allowing our kids the hands-on experience of building their own robots. When they put their robots together using building blocks where they build their code, scan it in, and experiment with their construction, they’re able to take control of their learning experience and can understand from the start exactly how their robot will work.

I feel the most successful when a child uses the tools or skills that I have provided to them to create something I never would have thought to make myself. That’s also when I see the most joy in the kids: when they feel that they’ve figured out something for themselves. Research shows that robots provide kids positive ways to express identity, communicate with peers, and engage in civic activities, so our role is to give them the initial instruction they need: put your coding blocks in a certain order, scan them, and watch the robot carry out your instructions in that order. After that, we open the door for their exploration and let the children’s creativity and critical thinking lead the way. Each block comes with a bar code for the robot to scan. Once they understand that, along with the cause and effect reaction of their commands, the rest is up to them.

I had one student who was so excited about “if/then” statements that he decided he wanted to make a robot that he could control in real time to navigate the miniature city we had created for the class. On his own, he created a program that had the robot move forward continuously but could be triggered by two different sensors (light and distance) to turn right or left. He spent the rest of that session joyfully chasing his robot around, pointing a flashlight at the light sensor or waving his hand at the distance sensor when he wanted it to turn right or left. I couldn’t believe how creative and complex the program was, and the child was in first grade!

Young people learn best by experiencing new concepts with their own minds and bodies and “figuring it out” when they encounter something they don’t yet understand. By allowing our kids to experiment, design, test, and even play with a tool that brings these lessons to life, we’re making their learning experience not only meaningful, but joyful as well..."

Mary Amoson teaches kindergarten at Brooks Elementary in Coweta County Georgia