Thursday, July 10, 2008

Artist of the Week: LEGO Robotics

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Jake. Today was the last day of his LEGO Robotics course that he took under the auspices of the Summer Regional Governor's School (scroll down the page for the summer school programs). The courses are free and are open to gifted students that have been accepted into the program via a competitive application. It is a wonderful program and, as you can see in the picture, Jake was one very happy camper.

He was very willing to get up early each morning of the eight day session and ride in with his father and be dropped off before the opening bell at 8:30 am. Not once did he gripe to me about going to school. I think his only disappointment was concerning their field trip to a local robotic manufacturer, because the students were not allowed on the production floor.

Anyway, he had a great time and this is about the final robot that he helped to produce. The students would get partnered up with different kids then design, build and program a robot for the challenge of the day. The kids were not only learning about the engineering side, but also about teamwork.

Team 1
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today family members were invited to attend the last robotic challenge. It gave us a chance to see exactly what had been going on during the past eight days of class. Fortunately both Larry and I were able to go and see the fun firsthand.

For his last project Jake was teamed up with the young lady in the picture. She seemed like a really sweet girl and was bright and chatty when we met her today. She explained the program and the robot to us and was very impressed with Nate's knowledge of radar (thank you History channel- aka the WWII channel). It looked like she and Jake worked well together and were having a good time.

The Robot
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The robot they designed was meant to follow a course and hit four different targets. The course, on white paper, was laid out on several tables in the classroom. A black lined marked the preferred path to the targets. From what I could see Jake's team used line/color sensor to find the line and an ultrasonic sensor to find the target. They used a laptop to set up the running program and then downloaded it into the LEGO NXT Intelligent Brick (the brain of the robot).

Each team got two tries with time built in to modify the robot in between runs. The course stared off fairly simply with a straight path to the first target. Then it got tricky. The robot had to turn and cross a short yet narrow bridge. After the second target the course got progressively harder.

Here is a longish film of the two runs spliced together.

Second Place Trophy
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I'm very proud to say that their robot came in second overall. It wasn't able to complete the course, but points were awarded for hitting the taget and following the line. One robot almost finished the course. It just missed hitting the final target. The two teaching assistants made special trophies to commemorate the occasion. Jake, of course, promptly put it on his head and walked around with it precariously perched on top. I t was such an utterly Jake thing to do I just had to share it with y'all.

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