Getting a robotic arm to solve a puzzle might not seem like much, but two students in my CS328 Introduction to Robotics course have been learning how challenging stuff like this actually is. That's why I'm proud of what they have accomplished.
The classic "Towers of Hanoi" puzzle was invented by the French mathematician Édouard Lucas in 1883 and involves moving blocks or discs from one place to another according to certain rules. This is often difficult for a human to figure out -- just imagine programming a robot to solve it!
Here's a quick video of the robot in action:
The Towers of Hanoi is a common problem assigned to computer science students to help them organize their thinking about problem solving and iterative logic and most especially recursion.
The above video shows step one, which is to solve the problem by discrete programming moves. The next step, if they are up to it, is to take what they have learned and write the algorithms to solve this problem automatically. In any case, they are off to a fine start.
Yes, most of the equipment is older than they are, but it's all they need to learn the fundamentals. And it builds character!
Not long after my Introduction to Robotics course started, it got its very first press coverage!
Three years ago, I was interviewed by Jason Cremeen, a student writing for The Master's Piece, a student publication of The Master's College. What I love about this article is how Jason emphasizes that this course is not an engineering program for computer nerds only -- it's a hands-on critical-thinking course for anyone.
Starting this evening, I'll be teaching Intro to Robotics at The Master's College once again. I love having this opportunity to teach students critical thinking and problem-solving in a very hands-on way -- by building robots that solve puzzles and attack each other!
I created this course at Master's a couple years ago. At the time, a few students from the College made this (admittedly silly) video to show in Master's chapel to promote the course:
Of course, this video is not wholly accurate. Students never watch cartoons in my class (though they have been known to eat M&M's).
And since we're on the subject of teaching...
Which TMC faculty and staff did you see in the video?
How many different robots were shown?
Bonus: whose lab was this shot in?
I look forward to sharing more about this class!
A fuller description of the course is available at masters.edu.
I saw my first 3D printer almost 8 years ago and I blogged about it calling it "The Ultimate PC Accessory". In the years since, I've watched with excitement as the prices for assembled machines tumbled and as the build-it-yourself self-replicating "RepRap" movement led by Adrian Bowyer emerged.
What excites me about this, aside from the possibilities of robotics and additive manufacturing, is the grass roots nature of the 3D printing community. It reminds me of my early start with home built computers.
A few months ago, I got to play with a MakerBot at a client's office. I was hooked. So, I set out to build myself a "3D Printer Trainer" using whatever parts I had on hand; this is referred to as building a "RepStrap". I began to build my RepStrap 3D printer from scratch using as few purchased components as possible -- no specific plans or kits, just inspiration from many creative people and designs on the internet. Many of the parts are overkill or the wrong size but the RepStrap concept gives me the freedom to do that. I'm not too concerned about precision or build volume right now. I just want it to move on my command.
Once the hardware is complete, I intend to use it to teach myself the entire 3D printing workflow and tool chain -- from concept to design to configuration to print. Then, when I have some actual experience under my belt -- and more time -- I will take it all apart and start fresh with a new and improved design. I have only had a few hours each week to invest in this project but you can see that it is already starting to take shape.
My Jewish friends know that Mama can always use an extra pair of hands in the kitchen, and Papa can surely use the help with the Seder. At last, help is on the way...
A group of enterprising engineering students at the R&D Institute for Intelligent Robotic Systems CS Department, College of Management Academic Studies, ISRAEL have created a robot to assist with your next passover Seder. In this practice video, the robot serves his guests with precision.
The LEGO Mountaineers are getting ready to go to the U.S. FIRST State Competitions. I challenged the team that if they could get a perfect 400 score I would take everyone out for fresh doughnuts at the Bear Claw Bakery. They have been practicing for weeks, doing everything they could to optimize their robot, tighten the programming source code, and rehearse all movements to shave off a few seconds wherever possible. It's very rare for a team to achieve a perfect 400 score, in fact we used to think it was impossible. Inspired by The Flying Geeks, the kids learned that it was possible and set their sights on a perfect four hundred score in 2.5 minutes.
Next stop: The Bear Claw bakery, then the State Competition. If they win that, they will go to the Nationals. Their goal is to win the nationals and get invited to the White House!
The team has been working hard for months. I'm looking forward to seeing how they do at the competition and to celebrating their accomplishment with them.
Our homeschool robotics team participated in a local FLL competition in Hermosa Beach. The team received the highest scores for robot performance, research, and the technical presentation, earning them the Robot Performance Award and the Championship Award.
This is the first stop in a journey the kids hope will take them to Washington D.C. to meet the president. Next stop is in the Santa Clarita Regional FLL event where the team must qualify to attend the L.A. State Competition. If they win that, then can continue to the national competition. Last year, President Bush invited the winning teams from the national event to an award reception at the White House. The team is hoping he will do that again and that they will be invited to attend.
I'm very proud of the team and I think they have a very good chance at winning and achieving their goal.
As my readers know, I've been coaching robotics teams in the U.S. First competitions for the past six years. (Our all-girls homeschool Jr. Robotics team, the LEGO Mountaineers, have earned top awards at several competitions.) In that time, I've watched robotics go from being the side line geek activity to something very cool. (It's still a geek activity)
This year, Dean Kamen encouraged the FIRST Teams to get the word out that FIRST is a viable education program to encourage young people to pursue studies and even careers in science and technologies. Well the White House got the message, looked at the 15-year successful track record of the FIRST Robotics program and will be honoring the top team in each category on Monday at the White House. How cool is that?
To the FIRST Community:
We are thrilled to announce that three FIRST teams will be honored by President George W. Bush at the White House on Monday, April 30, 2007.
A few years ago, I blogged about what I think is the ultimate PC accessory. There are thousands of reasons I do not yet have one. Now I may be one step closer...
The team at Fab@Home have posted open source plans to build your own 3D printer.
Via Popular Mechanics April 2007:
Engineers from Cornell University are trying to convince people to build their own "rapid prototyping machine" - essentially a 3D printer that can "print" objects, such as bottles, or watchbands. the scientists hope their Fab@Home design, which can be assembled from about $2400 in parts, will spur innovation, and do for 3D Printing what home computer kits in the 1970s did for the PC.
Way cool. I remember riding the wave of technology in the pre-PC era. I tried the same with robotics, but that wave has yet to pick up. This is really exciting and I think it shows great potential to democratize innovation.
I'm not sure this has been done before, but the Flying Geeks achieved what had previously always seemed impossible - a perfect score of 400 at the US FIRST LEGO League Robotics competition. They beat out the Mindstorms Mayhem team - previous winner for the past three years. In response, the Mindstorms Mayhem team graciously posted this tribute to the Flying Geeks.
Even if you are not into Robots, or LEGOs or the like, you've got to watch this amazing video of the Flying Geeks as they achieve a perfect score in the New Hampshire Semifinals. (Wait or right-click to download, it's a large file)
Hey Bruce, now that you've purchased your own MindStorms kit, it's time to start thinking about competitions. After all, you won't know what your robot's worth until it's in the ring, fighting for survival.
Tonight, our team made a video of our second sumo practice for an upcoming competition. Yesterday's robots were pretty weak, but after a lesson on gear reduction, torque and drive trains, I sent the kids off to redesign their robots.
Bruce, when you come to visit me in the digital sandbox, bring your MindStorms kit and we'll have some fun. Perhaps we can write an extension to the Notes API to manage our robots from LotusScript and hve them respond to the status of our programs. Interesting idea...
The girls FIRST Robotics Team competed in San Diego this weekend and they again won the robot design award. I'm particularly proud of them as this is an area in which the team has worked especially hard this year.
If you are interested in robotics, LEGOs, or want to see how kids use mindmaps and GTD to plan and prepare for a competition, our U.S. FIRST Robotics updated team blog site is now on-line. The girls have written over 50 blog entries detailing their experiences preparing for the upcoming robotics competitions.
I hope you'll visit their team web site and offer a few words of encouragement.
The competitions begin this week and continue for the next 4 weeks. To follow all of the excitement, you'll want to add these links to your RSS reader:
It looks like this year's robotics competition will be very small. Very, very small... I just received this email from FIRST headquarters:
Two days and counting until Nano Quest is unveiled! You and your team are about to enter a world where big things happen at the nano level. Like Alice through the looking glass, get ready to zoom out of the world we know, through a super high-powered atomic microscope to the strange world of individual atoms. Sure it sounds like science fiction, but the future has arrived. Continue Reading "Very small U.S. FIRST Robotics Kickoff, tomorrow!" »
This is an invitation to encourage our homeschool robotics team in the 2006 FIRST Robotics competition. My daughter, Amy, contributed to this post:
I'm excited! We have just started our first official day of LEGO Robotics 2006.
Our robotics team, the The LEGO Mountaineers is an all-girls home school robotics team. We have been competing in the FIRST Robotics competitions for the past 4 years. FIRST stands for For Inspiration And Recognition of Science and Technology. Its a great way to learn to apply skills in critical thinking, problem solving, math, science, computers, and robotics. It's fun, too.
Today, we finished making our first mind map for the 2006 FIRST Competition.
We use mind maps in all of our planning and we make maps often help us keep track of our goals, projects, ideas, and questions. This will also make it easier for us to keep track of what we have accomplished. Below, is a link to the mind map we made. I believe that it is because of our mind mapping and GTD planning skills that we were able to successfully plan, prepare, and win the Director's Award at two different competitions.
One of the reasons I like building robots is that it combines skills in hardware and software development. I'm not very good at it, but when I have time to tinker, I really enjoy doing both. Today, Microsoft released a preview of Microsoft Robotics Studio, a development system for robots. I'm excited for many reasons, mostly because it will increase recognition in a field I've watched grow and languish and grow for the past 20 years.
Tanny and I are testing VLOG (Video Blog) posts on my blog, something I started experimenting with 2 years ago. I've posted this video so that we can begin to test some new code that Tanny's preparing that will allow me to quickly and easily make VLOG (Video Blog) posts.
This video, for the Sampson children, is of a robotics challenge I gave my children, two weeks ago. The goal was to build and program a tracked robot to run a basic course around our robotics playing field.
This year, the team faced a formidable challenge; they had to split up
so that Kathy and the girls could care for Kathy's mom. The team decided
to have Amy & Wendy work on the research and presentation in Northern
California, while Faith and Lucy worked on the robot locally. The girls
were only able to meet in person a few times, relying instead on Skype,
phone calls, and email. They worked hard and accomplished a lot.
Amy and Wendy recently decided to build
a test platform to further develop their programming skills.
Specifically, they wanted to build a robot to follow a line. They emailed
me this video clip of their latest LEGO robot following an electrical tape
line around grandma's kitchen. (See below.) Programming a robot to follow
a line can be a challenge. I'm proud of Amy and Wendy for taking the initiative
to learn how to solve this problem on their own.
Learn more about their robotics team, The LEGO Mountaineers, here.
Click on the podcast link below to watch
This weekend, our Robotics team competed
in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manhattan Beach, California. Preparation
for this year's competition was very different from all previous years.
Due to a medical situation in our family, our team was unable to meet as
a team after our first meeting. Rather than skipping the competition, the
girls decided to split up the projects, with two of the girls working on
the robot design and programming locally while Amy and Wendy worked on
the research and presentation project remotely.
This weekend, the LEGO Mountaineers won the top award for their research
and presentation on how undersea robots can be used to help restore the
kelp forests. Amy and Wendy even built a mock-up of their proposed solution
to demonstrate how it would work.
The RoboNexus conference exhibition hall
was not too crowded on Friday. We saw a variety of robots from consumer
models to entertainment robots to autonomous military robots. iRobot had
a large display with their military
and consumer robots. Many people were interested in iRobot's consumer productivity
robots that vacuum (Roomba)
and wash (Scooba)
floors. Kathy asked if Roomba could really suck up things like cheerio's
or dog hair. The representative dumped out a box of granola into the carpet
and Roomba went to work sucking it up. Most of it. I'm convinced that these
robots work best if you live in a museum with no furniture and have no
children, toys, or pets. Actually, the demonstrations were pretty good.
I found the autonomous and remote controlled reconnaissance
and rescue robots much more
The LEGO Mountaineers, FIRST Jr. Robotics Team #1144
Four years ago, I volunteered as a mentor for a high school robotics team
in the U.S. FIRST Competition. For the past three years, I have had
the privilege of coaching a group of talented home school girls in the
Jr. Robotics league. Our team, the LEGO
Mountaineers, has done well
each year, winning awards in various areas such as research presentation,
judges award, and team spirit award. While the girls, excelled in many
areas, there was always ample opportunity for improvement. (In the past,
their robot ranked 39 out of 44. Not a great score.)
At the start of this year's robotics season, the girls announced that they
intended to win the Director's award -- the award given for the team with
the highest achievement overall. The Director's award is a difficult
award to earn, and is usually awarded to the larger, more experienced,
school teams. (Our team was quite small this year, with only 5 girls)
As a coach, I see the strengths and weaknesses of our team. My job is to
direct the team so that each child develops her skills, and is able to
contribute to the team. I knew the work that they would have to do to try
to win this award.
I told the girls that if they really
wanted to win the Director's award, I would be happy to coach them towards
that goal. With that agreement, we spent the early weeks -- while other
teams were already building their robots -- focused on studying the goal
(the award criteria, etc) and visualizing what it would take to win the
award and what winning would be like. We created mind maps of the process
and of the things we would need to accomplish to reach the goal. We then
broke these down into specific next actions. (i.e. collect parts, build
robot, plan mission, etc.).
For the next 10 weeks, we focused on outcomes and actions -- all moving
towards the goal of delivering our best performance at the competition.
(The competition consists of robot
competition, technical presentation,
presentation, sportsmanship, etc..)
We spent a little less time on the robot this year and more time on the
theory of planning, goal setting, mind
mapping, game strategy,
methodology, and flowcharting.
I am confident that these skills contributed to the girls' ability to be
ready for anything that they would encounter at the competition.
This past weekend, the girls competed at a regional FIRST Jr. Robotics
competition in Southern California. Not only did their robot finish in
first place in their division, they finished 3rd overall for robot performance
(score) on the field.
At the award ceremony, the judges called the LEGO Mountaineers, to award
them the distinguished Director's award for top achievement in all categories.
I'm very proud of them.
The girls have been maintaining a Blog
site so that they can share their experiences. This year, the girls provided
almost daily updates of their progress, challenges, and successes. I encourage
you to stop visit and, if you are inclined, post some words of encouragement.
if you have a young person in your life, you may want to share the site
with them. FIRST is a great program to inspire children to pursue math,
science and technology.
We were fortunate this year to have several distinguished sponsors
and partners, who helped provide
the funds, software, and encouragement to help the children get things
done. We even had a visit
from Microsoft's Channel 9 guy. You can learn more about all of this on
the LEGO Mountaineer's Blog site.
I plan to share my thoughts on how to coach an all-girls Jr. Robotics team
to success. Look for this and video clips on the girls' Blog site in the
weeks to come.
There is nothing quite like the excitement
of watching a robot - one that you and your teammates have designed,
built, and programmed - move autonomously across the playing field to carry
out its missions while the crowd cheers from the stands.
When the "Run" button is pressed and the robot leaves its
base to execute its missions, the team will find out how well they did
thinking through and preparing to solve each of the challenge missions.
They will have to effectively teach the robot "next action management,"
which is what I hope that they will learn in the process.
I call it "Productivity in motion."
The transition from thousands of individual parts to a completed robot
that is ready to compete in an autonomous competition requires the same
critical thinking and project management skills that it takes to send a
spacecraft into space.
As I have shared before, one of the many things that I really enjoy about
coaching the U.S. FIRST Jr. Robotics competitions is the opportunity to
teach children some of those vital critical thinking skills while having
fun building robots. Not only do the kids have to design and build
a robot, they have to program it as well.
Since the dawn of computing the success of any programming project has
been the ability to break down a tasks into specific next actions.
Of the many skills that I model for the kids, a powerful one is the Getting
Things Done (GTD) methodology, by my friend, David
Allen. I teach kids the basics
of GTD -- often without them knowing it -- simply by modelling its use
in action. Early on, the girls become accustomed to asking "What's
the successful outcome?" and "what's the next action?"
It is this step-by-step analysis that helps the kids learn to break
down a complex problem into small but manageable tasks. While I am
teaching the kids how to prepare for a robotics competition, I am really
teaching them how to prepare to solve many of the kinds of challenges that
they will face in the future.
Thanks to this year's sponsors, I will be introducing the girls to various
productivity applications, including OneNote,
Manager, and ResultsManager.
I'm looking forward to giving the team not only powerful thinking skills
but excellent productivity tools to use as well.
I have set up a web
site where you can follow
along as we prepare for the U.S. FIRST Jr. Robotics Competition. The girls
will be blogging about their experiences each week and I will blog from
time to time (on both blogs) about the various productivity applications
that we are using and the lessons learned. It promises to be quite
Does this sound interesting to you? If so, here are your next actions:
This year's robotics challenge
appears to be the hardest one yet. Several missions
to accomplish -- all in under two minutes. I'm still working on getting
the new group blog site up for our Robotics team.
For now, I'll post the girl's latest entries here..
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Today my sister and I helped my dad set up the playing field so that it
will be ready for our next team meeting this weekend. It looks really cool.
We brainstormed on different ideas the we have for the different challenges.
We are going to start experimenting soon. This year is going to be really
Posted by Wendy
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Today we got the challenge for this year's LEGO Robotics competition. It
is very exciting! This year has the hardest challenges that I have ever
seen. We have to program our robot to do a lot of things that a disabled
person might have trouble with. Like opening a gate, putting a ball through
a hoop, feeding animals, and putting things away.
Also our research challenge is that we invent a robot to solve a problem
that a disabled person might have in our community. We will really need
to work on our robotics skills. I look forward to another great year of
Posted by Wendy
Well, there you have it; the team's first public blog entries. Shortly,
I'll have the new team group blog site operational. There, you will be
able to follow the progress of the LEGO Mountaineers through their eyes
and blog as they prepare for and compete in this year's competition. I
look forward myself to seeing what they have to say and to adding my own
perspective about our experience using various productivity programs, such
This weekend, we unpacked two boxes, containing
the US FIRST Jr. Robotics Challenge 2004 Kit of parts.
The first box contained the playing field. The second box contained the
1438 parts that we will need to assemble into the various props needed
to complete the challenge.
What is the U.S. FIRST Jr. Robotics Challenge 2004?
FIRST Jr. Robotics Challenge
is a robotics competition, developed by Dean Kamen, for middle school students.
The robots are built using the LEGO MindStorms robotics development system.
This will be my third year coaching a team in this competition -- it's
something that I enjoy doing as part of my ICA
I'm in the process setting up a new team blog site that will tell you more
about it. It will be a group blog, operated by a group of lovely young
ladies that call themselves the LEGO
Mountaineers. They will be
sharing their experiences as they learn about robotics, computer software
including, MindStorms, RoboLab, MindManager, OneNote, ResultManager, and
hopefully, a group collaboration tool. You will be able to follow along,
day by day, as the team progresses towards the competition, so stay tuned!
If you haven't already, now would be a good time to subscribe to the
feed for this site.
The voice of experience: Do not try
to drive a remotely piloted vehicle through an LAX Airport security checkpoint.
If you must, be sure to keep it covered with a blanket at all times.
Here's a brief account of my recent near run-in with Homeland Security.
In January, I took some time away to work on the restoration of my HERO
2000 Robot. Among other things, one of the things that I did was to meet
with 4 other robotics enthusiasts, all of whom own vintage HERO 2000 robots.
We've been calling ourselves the Los
Angeles Robot Resurectionists Society
and we meet several times a year to work on our robot restoration projects.
What can I say? Some people restore vintage cars, we restore vintage robots.
My family dropped me and HERO off at a friend's house, near Los Angeles
International Airport (LAX). The day went well, and thanks to Kevin, my
HERO 2000 now has a working arm again.
I should probably point out that HERO is about the size of a large child
and twice as heavy. When I transport him in the car, I buckle him in with
a seat belt and restraints, and I cover him with a blanket so that he will
not fall out or call attention to himself.
Kelly and I load HERO into the car
On the way home, as the jets flew overhead, I realized that my younger
children had never seen or heard an airplane up close, so I decided to
drive to a nearby parking lot at the end of the runway so that they could
watch the planes land. After several minutes of this, we decided
to drive through the airport. As we approached LAX, we could see
police cars everywhere, generator powered lighting trucks illuminating
the streets, and officers with dogs, search lights, and mirrors (for under-car
As we approached the security checkpoint for our lane, which was attended
by at least a half dozen security agents, I realized that I had, in
my car, a remotely piloted vehicle, complete with cameras, antennas,
and remote console -- not the kind of thing that one usually brings
to an airport. Further, if asked, I had no real purpose for even being
at the airport -- no one to pick up and no tickets to go anywhere. It was
too late to get out of the security lane and doing so would have only attracted
HERO 2000 Actively scans the horizon with his Sonar
I told the kids to be quiet and to keep the robot covered with the blanket.
We rolled down our windows so that the security officer could look
into our car. Despite the obvious occupant hiding under a blanket, they
did not say anything. We also have an unusual cargo carrier attached
to the back of our car. It has an enclosed storage unit about the size
of a 55 gallon drum. No one seemed to notice or care. After
a minute, they waived us through.
Sorry, I did not think to take any pictures at the security checkpoint.
So, while it was tense for a moment, it was a relatively uneventful inspection.
I was surprised, even disappointed, that no one checked any further. At
the same time, I was not about to pull-over, unload a 100 lb robot,
and remotely pilot it back to the security checkpoint just to show them
what they had missed. That would have made for a more eventful
I recently had the opportunity to meet
with Bill Griffin, of Grifftek
to discuss my CNC
machining projects. After
a tour of his new shop, Bill invited me over to his office, where he makes
rapid prototypes in the model shop - he wanted to show me his latest toy:
Fused Deposition Machining (FDM)
system. What's FDM, you ask? Think of it as the ultimate 3D Printer
for your computer. It can take a 3D
Solid Model and print a usable
part from it in ABS plastic, quickly and quietly, in the convenience of
your office (or home).
I want one of these machines!
How does it work? It's basically a computer-controlled
hot-melt glue gun that can precisely deposit a thread-like bead of molten
ABS plastic. By building up successive layers, parts of almost any complexity
can be created. The parts are built-up on a tray, much like a cookie-sheet
in an oven.
Need a part? Need a tray full of parts? Just click Print.
Once the FDM process is complete, the
parts can be removed from the oven, ready to clean and use.
I have heard it said that you are only
dollars away from anything you want. Well, there are only a few hundred
thousand reasons why I do not yet own one of these cool PC accessories.
I can't wait for the price to come down. (I remember when laser
printers used to cost that much.)
Thanks Bill, for an educational evening, and a great dinner!
PS. Bill retrofitted my CNC Mill and Lathe and did a first-class job. If
you are looking for a quality CNC system or retrofit, Bill's
the guy to contact.
Our robotics team, the LEGO
Mountaineers, has been quite
busy this month. I am having a blast mentoring the girls. They
were featured on the front page of the local paper, and participated in
a scrimmage at CSUN.
I've just come back from the battlefield.
Well not exactly, but it was a week of Robot Wars of a sort... The
good sort. This
past week, our robotics team, in which I am a mentor, competed in the Southern
California Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at the Los Angeles Sports
Our robotics competition actually began several months ago with a "Kick
off" event - a live telecast which we attended at NASA/JPL. During
this event, we were shown this year's robot challenge - a game called "Zone
Zeal." After the Kick off, the kids were allowed just 6 weeks to design,
engineer, build, debug, practice, and ship the robot to the competition.
During this time, I worked along with other mentors on our team to help
the students accomplish the numerous tasks that were needed to complete
Not only did we accomplish our goal of helping the students to prepare
for and complete the event, we managed to help them finish in the top third
of the event. The final ranking for our Team (981) was 17th out of 60 teams.
More important however, were the lessons which the students learned over
the past several months including teamwork, communications skills, project
planning, action management, prototyping, mechanical design and robot construction.
On a personal note: I was able to visit with Dean Kamen, the founder of
US FIRST and a truly amazing person.
It has been a great deal of fun. It has also been quite challenging with
only 6 weeks allowed for all of this to happen. I have seen a lot of growth
in the kids we mentored. It is my hope that this experience will have a
positive and lasting impact on their lives as they continue their education
and become the problem solvers of the future.
Here is our finished robot, TOBOR - designed and built in only 6 weeks.
We had a very precise chart with milestones including a planned miracle
at week 5. Fortunately, the miracle did occur! Most of the construction
happened in the last week. Now,
the kids will build a crate and prepare to ship the robot off to the competition.
I am really inspired by what Dean Kamen has done with U.S.
FIRST. Other than reading
about Dean, my only contact with him was during a satellite telecast which
I took my team to at NASA/JPL. Dean and his associate, Woody Flowers were
at the other end, telling us about this year's challenge and exhorting
us to Gracious Professionalism.
It has been a lot of fun to be involved. It has also been a great challenge
dealing with the varying levels of maturity common to those in High School.
I am thinking of starting a local FIRST
Jr. Robotics League team for
homeschoolers in our area. Between the homeschoolers and the local elementary
& middle schools we might be able to get 5 -8 teams going. I think
that would be a lot of fun.
PS. I have not [yet] had the opportunity to meet Dean in person (or to
ride the Human transporter) although some of the teams this year have been
lucky enough to do both!
This month, I volunteered to be one of
the mentors for the Frazier
Mountain High School Robotics
Team in the U.S.
First Competition. I
am helping to teach the students to build and program a robot that we they
use to compete against robots from other high schools. We had our
kick-off at NASA/JPL just after New Year's with a live satellite feed,
hosted by Dean Kamen.
This may not be the type of competition you will see on television, where
the intent is to damage the other robots. Each team is challenged
to score as many points as they are able, while doing several activities.
Amy and Wendy have been able to join me for many of the meetings.
We are now known officially, as Team 981. The kids decided to name
the robot Tobor. Figure it out.
I enjoy inspiring children in the areas of science and technology and I have found that robotics demonstrations are an effective way to do this. For the past 12 years, I have been offering these demonstrations and educational programs as an outreach of my company, ICA.COM, Inc..
I have updated my robotics web site tells a little more about this outreach and shows some wacky photos of me in action.