Tags: BEF, earth science, programming, technology, video
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Students, Eddie Reis and Jinzhen “Hugo” Hu have been furiously working to bring a Science Center BEF grant vision to reality. As the holidays approach we checked in with these students to see how far they had come with the future Science Center crown jewel, the Augmented Reality Sandbox!
As you can see, the kinks are still being worked out and the entire project is not yet mobile, but we are confident this project will come to full fruition in the coming months as the technical and structural glitches get worked out. Eddie and Hugo also plan to add in the watershed and precipitation features to the software. The AR Sandbox will be on display and available for students to explore during the Hour of Code week scheduled for the week of December 12th.
Tags: animals, MSMS, programming, robotics, technology
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The MSMS Devilbotz have (almost) finished their introductory year to the FIRST Lego League circuit, with one of four teams moving on to the state championships next month. Twenty-seven middle school students participated in the “Animal Allies” challenge put forth by FIRST, (For Inspirtation and Recognition in Science and Technology) and LEGO to provide students the opportunity to “design, program, and construct their own intelligent inventions.”
Guided by Mr. Marino, Mrs. Lynch, and several BHS Devilbotz mentors, the students met twice a week after school (and in some cases more) to prepare for the competition. Participants were required to create and program a robot capable of completing a multitude of challenges on what can best be described as a LEGO obstacle course. Participants also were judged on the technical engineering and efficiency of their robot and its programming, how well they lived up to the core values of the FIRST Lego League program, and the communication of their research on the relationships between animals and humans.
With over 100 “games” played and presentations performed, the teams waited anxiously through the entire results presentation at the conclusion of the regional competition on November 19th. Their patience was rewarded when one of the four teams, “The Savage 6” earned enough points to qualify for the state competition! While only a quarter of the team’s participants are moving on everyone felt satisfied with their results and experience at the conclusion of the competition and are already eager to participate again next year.
The Burlington Science Center would like to thank Mrs. Jane Lynch and Mr. Jourdan Marino again for their service to the team and Mr. John Carroll and Miss Elizabeth Normandin for volunteering their time over the weekend as well to help manage the teams during the competition day. We are excited to continue to grow the robotics program throughout all of the Burlington schools!
Tags: engineering, Mr. Musselman, programming, robotics, summer program, video
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The Burlington Science Center’s summer robotics program has found its rhythm in its third year of operation. A mix of incoming third, fourth, and fifth graders joined the second session of summer programs at the Memorial Elementary School from July 18th – 28th.
During the first week, students engaged in a series of challenges as NASA Jet Propulsion Lab engineers charged with constructing the next Mars rover. Robots were built to exact “NASA specifications” before being programmed to travel precise distances, take tight corners, use touch and ultrasonic sensors to navigate unexplored terrain and light sensors to detect signs of valuable minerals or follow pre-constructed paths on the colony grounds. Each challenge was scaffolded to challenge the engineers to design robots and programs of increased levels of sophistication.
Along the way our students engaged in questions about what roles could and should robots play in our world both now and in the future. Students created and shared Explain Everything presentations illustrating their imagined worlds in which robots completed chores and cleaned up the environment, expressing both the benefits of a robotized society and the challenges (such as jobs and “money loss” that would be faced as a result.)
Our students’ progress and accomplished feats were documented along the way on the Burlington Science Center instagram page. Check it out directly to see all of the fabulous work captured by our students!
Tags: Grade 4, Grade 5, Mr. Musselman, programming, robotics, video
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Today marks the end of a wildly successful pilot of the Burlington Programming/Robotics SummerSTEM camp, spawned after the well received “hour of code” earlier this year by me and Francis Wyman’s IT Specialist, Ben Schersten. With the focus on learning basic strategies and methods applied by computer programmers and robotics engineers, our two-week course primarily utilized “Hopscotch,” an iPad app using “Blockly” computer language, and a dozen Lego NXT kits funded through a grant a few years ago at the Francis Wyman Elementary.
With relatively little direct instruction students went from being relative novices in computer language and coding concepts, to mechanical and software “engineers”, problem solving everything from coding miscues to optimal gear placement on the robots axles. Many students integrated the use of sensors to build robots that avoided walls while attempting to maneuver balls from one side of the room to the other. Receiving only rough, open-ended guidelines for much of the camp, students seemed to work tirelessly on their projects, some even groaning when recess or snack brought a “mandatory” break and in some cases coming to camp 10 to 15 minutes early to get a little “extra time” with their Hopscotch program.
To emphasize the importance of robotics and computer science in their community, we spent one day on the second week on a field trip to two robot companies in the area, Harvest AI and iRobot. Their kids were wowed as the Harvest prototypes, “Shaq” and “Skip” endlessly carted potted plants to their watering and sunlight destinations. Our hosts were kind enough to show us the electrical wiring inside one of their other bots and the display sharing the hundreds of lines of commands being used by the bots as they made their way around the warehouse. At iRobot we received a historical tour sharing the evolution of iRobot’s most popular models and learned about how robots were best used when doing jobs people classified under the “Three D’s: Dull, Dirty, or Dangerous.”
Along the way students also dabbled in Scratch, exploring how different coding platforms still use the same skills and concepts. During the first week students also participated in a few Computer Science Unplugged activities, teaching students about how computers use binary numbers to compute numbers, compress image files, and debug programs where the code is translated in error.
With the Burlington school system further investing into its LEGO Robotics infrastructure, Ben and I are looking forward to expanding the robotics camp and programming opportunities available to our students in the future!
Mr. Musselman and Mr. Schersten would like to thank Harvest AI and iRobot for graciously hosting us, and our student volunteers from the high school and middle school who volunteered their time and talents to share and work with our students!