Monday, October 8, 2018

BRONX Team - 2Train Robotics Team #395 (Morris/CSS) Begins 20th Season in FIRST Robotics

Sent to me this morning by my friend Gary Israel...
Dear Friends of 2Train,

As many of you know, in addition to building robots and competing in robotics competitions in NYC and around the country, over the last 19 years the 2Train does many community service projects. This weekend we kicked off our 20th season by participating in the Co-op City College, Career & Resource Fair at The College of New Rochelle, School of New Resources, Co-op City Campus in our home town, the BRONX. Co-op City is the largest residential development in the United States serving middle and upper middle income New Yorkers of diverse backgrounds. More than 50,000 people reside in Co-op City.

People attending the event were given information about the team and the FIRST Robotics program; children were able to drive the robot.

As we prepare to build our 20th, completely different designed robot in January and then six weeks later begin to compete against teams from around the country and the world I want to thank all the students, teachers, mentors and sponsors for their support as 2Train looks forward to the next 20 years.

For more information about the team and how you can participate in the upcoming 20th anniversary celebration please go to

Co-op City, Bronx
2Train Mentors and Students
Evelyn M. Turner, on the left is the Lead Organizer for the Co-op City College, Career & Resource Fair.
Arleen Hogan, in the middle is the Campus Director, The College of New Rochelle School of New Resources Co-op City Campus.
Bervin Harris, President and CEO, Renaissance Youth Center, a big supporter of 2Train with Reuben Bridges, an original member of the 1999 2Train team and mentor for the past 15 years.
2Train student conductors Moshab Raman and Shadi Yadollahi Khales
Team 395 provides students with opportunities to pursue their goals in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This is made possible by our dedicated mentors and amazing sponsors.
 For more information about getting on board the 2Train;

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Great Advice from a LEGO Education Master Educator

A pleasure to have known, and interviewed, and picked the brain of this colleague over many years. CONGRATULATIONS on this very nice piece, Ian Chow-Miller!!!


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Dean Kamen’s FIRST Robotics Competition (Full Segment) | Real Sports w/ Bryant Gumbel | HBO

Girl Powered’ Robotics at Google

"Girl powered’ robotics workshop at Google builds skills, confidence

Outside Google’s MP7 building at its Sunnyvale campus, it was a pretty quiet weekend.
But inside, upbeat music was pumping, and the building was bustling with hundreds of teenage girls clad in purple shirts and name tags who all spent the weekend building and testing robots.

Dozens of teams huddled around their plastic toolboxes, which were filled with small screws, sprockets, springs, and plastic and metal components. They worked to perfect their own claw robot on wheels.
This is the second year the Google Girl’s Robotics Workshop has run at the campus. The tech giant sponsors the event and collaborates with the Girl Powered initiative, comprised of members from the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation and VEX Robotics.

The goal of the initiative is to get more girls involved in robotics and science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM fields, at an earlier age.

“Girls, by and large, are underrepresented in robotics,” said Vicki Grisanti, the director of marketing for the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation.
Grisanti said hosting these kinds of workshops can help girls build confidence in a challenging environment.

You’re building communication skills, teamwork skills, problem-solving skills,” she said. “These are all things you can develop at a young age doing these competitions, and you take those skills on into your future career...”

Read the full article at its source:

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Great List of Robot Themed Books for Students

In my 'In Box' from Birdbrain Technologies this morning... this is a very nice list of titles (organized by grade level) to align reading and understanding robotics. Kids will love these books, learn about robotics, and improve literacy skills, as well:
There’s still time to get some more summer reading in! Choose one of these hand selected books about robotics & programming from our K-12 reading list.

BirdBrain Tech’s 11-year-old book reviewer highly suggests the Wild Robot and Secret Coder series! Tweet us your favorites @birdbraintech.

Student Robotics and SEL (Social and Emotional Learning)

Great article from SmartBrief

"Grow SEL skills through robotics"

"In the heart of Silicon Valley, the tech Mecca of the world, is John Gill Elementary School, a STEAM-focused Title 1 school where more than half the students are English language learners (ELLs) and most are on the free and reduced lunch program. Our school is piloting a new computer science initiative where, starting in kindergarten, students move through a progression of tools that help them learn computer-programing skills.

The goal is to provide these students with a plethora of STEM resources to give them a strong foundation in computer science and keep them within the Silicon Valley community. Although we’re early in our pilot, we also want our students to learn a lot more than computer skills. They’re learning to collaborate and are developing strong social-emotional learning and problem-solving skills, too.

‘It’s Not Just About the Robot’ We don't know what jobs today’s children are going to have when they become adults, and we don't know what the workforce of the future is going to look like. However, we do know that technology is going to have a huge impact, and it's only going to develop more over time. According to research conducted by Marina Umaschi Bers at Tufts University, the more exposure children have to how computers, coding, and robotics work, the more prepared they will be in the future.

When parents express concerns about their child spending a lot of time with technology, we tell them, “It's not about the robot” or any device. It's about what they’re doing with the device to show their understanding. For example, can a student recognize patterns? Are they working together and communicating with others to solve problems? These are the skills that help students develop a strong foundation of computational thinking.

Machines that Make Kids More Human
While children are developing these computational thinking skills, simultaneously they are working on their social-emotional development. I remember a specific example of a student who significantly grew socially through the use of robotics. We were introducing a wooden robot to a class of kindergarten students, and a boy and a girl were working together. The boy pulled the robot away from the girl and said, “This is mine!” He then started a game of tug-of-war with his partner.

Flash-forward two months: I went back and visited the classroom, and the same boy was working with another group of children, a mix of boys and girls. At one point, he stopped, held the robot out, and said, “It's your turn now.” I thought, “There we go. That's what we're hoping to see.” Not only are students learning about computer programming, but they're also learning social skills—like sharing and working with others—that will serve them just as importantly in the future.

Hokey-Pokey and SEL

When working with robotics, I also see students develop basic problem-solving skills, which contribute to building their social-emotional intelligence. Do they hit a place in the task where they feel frustrated or they feel like it's not working the way they want it to? Are they showing the perseverance and the grit to try to overcome that obstacle on their own? Those are the things we're curious to watch for.
For example, our kindergarten teachers did a hokey-pokey lesson using robotics; it introduced students to the basics of robotics and coding. In the lesson sequence, we danced the hokey-pokey as a class, singing the song together. Then, we split students up into pairs, and asked them to code the robot to dance to their own version of the hokey-pokey.

What we noticed was that, as pairs struggled to code the movement they wanted to see, they had to communicate with one another and collaborate on different ideas. We often found students showing each other how to adjust the robot’s barcode reader to scan in the correct block, or to redo a scan if the robot didn't perform the dance correctly. While some students struggled with sharing during the lesson, we also saw that their collaboration and working together improved over time.

I never tire of seeing a child discover something new about his or her world. The screams of excitement I hear after students successfully code a robot to carry out a command will never get old. As we continue our pilot process, we've been seeing glimpses of SEL development, which shows that our students can develop soft skills alongside computer science skills and become active and engaged residents of 21st-century Silicon Valley..."

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!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Summer Robotics Camp for Teens

"Local camp geared toward robotics"

Ally Wallace (left), 10, Southmont said the hardest part was actually building the robot.
Evelyn Zachary, 10, Southmont, said the hardest part was learning programming and figuring out the different sensors on the robot.
Ally Wallace (left), 10, Southmont said the hardest part was actually building the robot. Evelyn Zachary, 10, Southmont, said the hardest part was learning programming and figuring out the different sensors on the robot.
"...A local camp is gearing up to get kids interested in robotics. Camp MocoRobo is a LEGO robotics camp for Montgomery County middle school students. Instructor Karen Thada said the camp promotes a general interest in robotics.
“When we started this camp, the emphasis was to get kids interested in how robotics and automation are used in our local industries,” Thada said. “The idea is some of these kids- someday- will hopefully stay in Montgomery County when they’re adults and work in our industry here in town.”

The camp itself is a 4-day experience that gives students a fun, hands-on and creative opportunity as they learn about manufacturing careers through LEGO robotics..."

Read the full article at its source:

Summer Robotics Camp Introduces Teens to Manufacturing World

"Camp MoCoRobo introduces teens to manufacturing world"

"... Twenty children were gathered in a classroom at Ivy Tech Community College, working in teams to program and test the robots. The camp’s first session runs through Friday, followed by a second group of students next week.
Instructors Lisa Hoagland, who teaches math at Northridge Middle School, and Karen Thada, a retired Crawfordsville Middle School teacher, said the camp allows students to build problem-solving skills while learning about the training needed to fill manufacturing jobs.
Damian Crabtree, 13, and Max Edgecomb, 11, examine a robot Tuesday in Camp MoCoRobo at Ivy Tech Community College. The annual event teaches basic computer coding skills to middle school students and exposes them to advanced manufacturing career opportunities...

“So it’s kind of a lot of different tiers for us, but for the kids, it’s just a lot of fun and they enjoy playing with the robots,” Hoagland said.
Sevie and Layne, 12, who is in his second year at the camp, sat in front of a computer using coding software to give the instructions to the machine. Layne has designed web pages and worked with programming language that enables interactive websites.
I do play a lot of video games and I did those on the computer,” Layne said. He was also working on a Bluetooth feature that would allow their robot to be remotely activated.
Across the room, Damian Crabtree and Max Edgecomb were making another attempt to move their robot toward the sensor.
“The problem is, when it stops, it just runs in place,” said Damian, 13, who will be a seventh grader at Crawfordsville.
More girls are enrolled in this year’s first session, introducing them to a career field historically dominated by males. Currently, women fill just 7 percent of middle-skilled manufacturing jobs, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which advocates for improving women’s access to middle-skill jobs.
Evelyn Zachary, 10, has coded her own snowball-fight game and signed up for the camp to further her skills with the software.
“I like building with Legos and doing coding and programming,” said Zachary, an incoming sixth grader at Southmont.
The campers will tour Closure Systems International and Walmart Optical Lab to see robotics in action on the manufacturing floor.
“This all started, really, because of a need for our kids that grow up in the county to work in the jobs that we have in the county,” Thada said…”

Read the full article at its source:

"RoboRail" - Student Robotics Camp

Photos below (provided by Gary Israel)of the recent 5 Day Student Robotics "RoboRail" Camp.

Students are members of 2 Train Robotics, the Morris High School (Bronx) Student Robotics Team.

One of the highlights of the week was machine shop training for the students. During the mornings, Bob Stark, manager of the Columbia University lab where the team designs and builds its robots, trained the team in using the lab's specialized machines. In the photos the students were working on making modifications to last season's robot for upcoming off season events.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Robotics Engineer Barbie - A STEM Education Resource Whose Time Has Come!

We've definitely turned an important corner with this one. Smart partnership to produce a much needed resource!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

How do young students program robots?

This item (below), taken from a message in my in-box this morning from, SPHERO EDU (student robotics organization)... It gives a fun, clear view of how students can program robots. Here we see the use of the programming 'language' SCRATCH, which takes a graphic approach, with kids moving things around their screens as they would move building blocks around on a table top. There are numerous other such 'graphically oriented languages'. This video, though, I think is a very good illustration of a very good approach to teaching kids how to do something important in a relatively easy and fun way!

Scratch: The what and why
Scratch is the most popular block programming language in the world, and we integrated their open source library into Sphero Edu so it can be a better experience for more learners. For users familiar with our existing blocks canvas, don’t worry, the layout is similar and organized the same way, and we think you’re going to love the improvements.

A similar video below about the use of SCRATCH to program LEGO Robots

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!