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:

"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:

Using Robots to Help Teach Students with Autism

Teachers see benefits of robots in classroom

Chanute Elementary teachers who witnessed a desktop robot leading a multi-stepped math lesson say they can envision several ways a social robot could benefit student learning.
The smart robots designed by Van Robotics are being developed as a “study buddy or tutor” that will guide students through a lesson, adapt lessons to a student’s ability, respond to a child’s performance with words of encouragement or notice a lack of focus and redirect the student, or ask if the child needs to take a break.

“The demo was great in guiding the students through a step-by-step process in completing multistep problems,” said CES Title reading teacher Patty Small. “As long as the technology holds the students’ attention, it could benefit them by teaching them to become automatic and fluent in this process and any other problem-solving activities that it may address.”

“I would really enjoy trying this out in my classroom with kids that need some one-on-one time,” said second grade teacher Nikki Jacobs, especially for those occasions when teachers feel they have tried everything they know to help a child, but it’s not working.

“As far as helping students with Autism,  the possibilities would be endless,” said fifth grade teacher Madison Mitchell. “I could see it being used for social group, speech pathology, reading and writing individualize lessons, and really lending itself to the child’s brain ability.”

Shelly Kuhn, a speech pathologist who works with children at CES and Humboldt, has seen the results of using her robot Aisoy as part of her speech and language sessions.

“With my students I have seen increased attention to task, a reduction of off-task behaviors, improved social interaction, and working for longer amounts of time before scheduled breaks,” Kuhn said.
With the support of administration at the ANW Education Cooperative and a USD 413 Foundation grant, Aisoy joined Kuhn’s speech-language program two years ago.

“Research has shown that children on the Autism Spectrum have difficulty understanding social language.  When we speak, students must focus not only on the content of the messages but also try to understand the nuances which accompany our speech, such as pitch changes, volume, inflection, gestures, eye contact and many facial expressions,” Kuhn explained. “That can be very overwhelming for them. With the robot, students can focus on the content of the message first and gradually learn the social factors of communication in a non-threatening approach.”

Read the full article at its source:

Teaches Math with Robotics

"Southeast Education Student Teaches Math with Robotics

Southeast Missouri State University senior Tyson Roth of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, is fine-tuning his math teaching skills with the help of robots.
Roth, a middle school education major, is student teaching at the Danby-Rush Tower Middle School in the Jefferson R-7 district to fulfill his student-teaching requirements. He is assisting Hillary Hensley, a 2011 Southeast alumna, with STEM lessons and the use of LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot kits to teach math and technology to seventh grade students.

“Tyson has been a great asset to my classroom. His content knowledge is exceptional and he was totally prepared to be in the classroom,” Hensley said. “Having a student teacher that is ready to be immersed in the classroom work from day one creates a dynamic classroom that supports student learning and gives them more resources.”

Read about how he’s using robotics to help students think outside the box while using the creative side of their brains to solve engineering problems.

On learning how to use robotics in the University’s EDvolution Center:
Dr. Bill Bratberg, the associate professor of middle and secondary education, suggested that I teach a lesson with the EDvolution Center’s robots for the Perryville School District. This project also tied in with what I was learning about teaching math. The lesson dealt with finding circumferences and programming the robots in a simulation that required the robot to capture an alien and return to earth. The district liked the lesson so much that they purchased robot kits and have introduced the lessons into their curriculum.
Working with the robots from the EDvolution Center helped me prepare for my student teaching at Jefferson. If I didn’t have that experience, the Jefferson students would have to teach me. The Center has great technology for preparing teachers to create hands-on lesson plans.

On why robotics helps his students learn:
The robots give the students an opportunity to apply what they are learning to hands-on projects. Sometimes, I tell them to just try. In the real world, engineers are going to test and to see what goes wrong and tweak it..."

Read the full article at its source:

Friday, October 6, 2017

5th grade class given Lego robotics sets

Nice story from

"McKinleyville 5th grade class given Lego robotics sets"
By Hunter Cresswell

"The students built robots and can learn to code through the Lego sets contributed to the fifth-grade teacher Amber Coley’s classroom. Hunter Cresswell — The Times-Standard
On Tuesday morning one Morris Elementary School fifth-grade class was surprised with Lego sets that will be used in lessons to introduce students to science, technology, engineering, art and math fields.
The two Lego robotics sets, two sets of miscellaneous bricks and a base plate pack were requested by teacher Amber Coley and paid for with funding from Chevron.

“This was something I’m super excited Chevron Fuel Your School provided,” Coley told her students.
Though she said she was excited, it was her students who were really enthusiastic.

“What’s in the box?” Carter Reves asked from the back of the class before the plain cardboard box containing the Lego surprise was opened.

The more than two dozen students in Coley’s class crowded around her for the reveal.

“Legos!” the students exclaimed as Coley held the sets above her head so all the kids could see.
Chevron public affairs field manager Marian Catedral-King said the program gets funding during the month of October when people gas up at Chevron gas stations. Every 8 gallons of gas purchased gives $1 to the school district the gas station is in, she said. In September, teachers across the states log onto and submit funding proposals for their classrooms. Chevron picks certain projects to fund, the most recent of which is Coley’s STEAM project with the Lego sets, Catedral-King said.

“Since 2013, we’ve spent $400,000 in these counties,” she said about Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino and Lake counties.

This includes $183,000 in funding for schools across Humboldt County and $37,000 in funding for McKinleyville schools, Catedral-King said.

Coley said she wants to use these sets to teach her students to work together to build things and to code the Lego robot named “Milo” to perform simple tasks.

After the Lego sets were revealed, Coley broke her class up into groups two of which were given the robotics sets and followed instructions to build Milo while the other groups were given buckets of Legos to work together to create their own version of a robot without instructions. The different groups created a variety of designs for robots.

“We’re building a spaceship,” student Damie Leydecker said. “We’re going to Mars, we’re going to Venus, we’re going to the sun!”

Damie, Carter and the rest of their group were all very excited to get their hands on Milo and write code.
McKinleyville Union School District superintendent Jan Schmidt said programs like this help teachers who sometimes pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets.

“Sometimes we face challenges because our budget, our dollars, don’t go as far as we’d like,” she said.

“You have one of the most fabulous teachers in the district, Mrs. Coley,” Schmidt added.

Read the full story at its source:;postID=7192654146535475487

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Little Bits' Droid Inventor Kit: wonderful, highly engaging blend of fun, inspiration, and solid STEM Learning

The following, I gleaned from materials supplied on behalf of Little Bits. This looks to be a wonderful, highly engaging blend of fun, inspiration, and solid STEM Learning... Check out the Droid Inventor Kit, but also enjoy these 2 wonderful videos!

LittleBits has introduced its latest product, the Droid Inventor Kit. For the first time ever, kids can create their own Droid and bring it to life! Using littleBits electronic blocks and the free Droid™ Inventor app, they’ll teach their R2 Unit new tricks and take it on 16+ missions.

With invention at its core, the Droid Inventor Kit fosters creativity and problem-solving skills. In-app challenges encourage kids to reconfigure the littleBits technology in new and unique ways, in combination with household items, so they can create their own custom Droids such as a delivery Droid, a room guardian, and more.

The Droid Inventor Kit includes all the components needed for kids to create their very own Droid. A free app (iOS and Android) completes the experience, providing step-by-step instructions and how-to videos.
  • The app guides kids as they put together their Droid and control it in Drive Mode, Self-Nav, Force Mode, and more, making it the ultimate galactic sidekick.
  • After mastering their Droid Inventor skills, kids continue on to challenges that spark creativity and inspire them to create unique new Droids.
  • Each littleBits electronic block has a different function such as a power, motor, or sensor, which kids can use with their Droid in new and exciting ways.
  • Included stickers and in-app missions encourage kids to customize their Droid using crafts or household objects, giving their Droid its own special personality.
  • Kids will take pride in creating any Droid they imagine, and parents will love the endless play opportunities.

About littleBitslittleBits empowers kids around the world to become inventors. Founded in 2011 by Ayah Bdeir, its innovative platform of easy-to-use electronic blocks allows anyone to create and prototype with electronics, independent of age, gender or technical ability. As the leader in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) learning, littleBits believes in creating the conditions of invention by creating products that encourage self-directed exploration and problem solving; support grit and tenacity; and create a safe place to experience both failure and accomplishment. The company is dedicated to successfully bridging the gender gap with its gender-neutral platform, attracting an industry high thirty five percent of young girls to invent with littleBits. By embracing STEAM, both girls and boys can invent solutions to the problems that matter to them. The company’s products have won over 150 industry awards in the toy and education industries. littleBits is headquartered in New York. For more information and inspiration, go to