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



"Could Robotic Birds Lead to Safer Air Travel?

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:

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!

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.