Archive for the ‘Robotics in Education’ Category

Baltimore City Public School Students making the most of their summer with VEX Robotics

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Over 200 Baltimore city students are putting their VEX Robotics engineering prowess to good use today during the 2012 BCPSS Summer Robotics Olympiad in Timonium, MD.  The Olympiad is the culminating event for these students who are part of Baltimore’s 5-week “Create the Solution” summer VEX Robotics program.  When the Summer Olympiad closes today at 5:30 PM, the winning alliance will go home with the title of 2012 BCPSS Summer Robotics Olympiad Tournament Champion.

Baltimore’s “Create the Solution” summer program is one of several high-quality summer learning programs recognized by the National Summer Learning Association for providing an unequal summer learning environment to students in at-risk communities.  The Baltimore City Public School System added the VEX Robotics platform to its summer offerings in 2010 as part of a system-wide summer school revamp aimed at reducing the learning loss in the math and science disciplines by the city’s students.  The VEX Robotics program is one of several “Create the Solution” summer programs being offered this year to increase the achievement of Baltimore’s students.

Additional information about today’s 2012 Summer Robotics Olympiad can be found at http://www.robotevents.com/robot-competitions/vex-robotics-competition/baltimore-city-schools-robotics-olympiad.html

Students learn importance of math and science through robotics competitions

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
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Innovations in robotics can aid humans in a number of ways. New devices are helping by finding individuals lost in collapsed mine shafts, lifting regularly unmovable objects, or helping children with autism spectrum disorders learn how to interact in a social environment. Because of these benefits that machines can give people, more schools and organizations are allowing students to participate in robotics competitions so they can develop an interest in the field. This includes middle and high schools from Dickinson, North Dakota, according to the Dickinson Press.

For the first time ever, Dickinson held a robotics competition on October 15. Students and participants were introduced to the event on September 3, where they were given the rules and materials for the competition, the news source reported.

"It's an amazing event," Kasey Kessel, the coach from Trinity High School's robotics team, told the Dickinson Press. "You get the plywood, pipe, screws and nuts – the raw materials – now go build a robot."

The judging and scoring process is based on the construction and performance of the robot, as well as other areas where students can learn, such as marketing, interviewing and sportsmanship. The schools involved were encouraged to bring fans and engage with audience members to help their scores.

By participating in the event, students can learn the basics skills involved in the engineering process as well as the design and building procedures of building a robot. More than 17 teams participated in the event, according to the Press.

"What people don't realize is that engineers sometimes fail and go back to the drawing board – that's part of the process," Paul Johanson, the chairman of the Dickinson State University department of math and computer science, told the news source.

DSU organized the event with money from a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education grant.

These types of robotics events are held all around the country. For example, high school students prepared for weeks for the recent T-Robo Competition and Geek Fest at Western Technical College's Branch Campus in El Paso. This event also demonstrated the necessity of STEM, according to the El Paso Times.

The point of many of these competitions is to show the importance of math and technology, as well as the fact that learning these sciences can be a fun and engaging process.

Military kids hold robotics competition

Thursday, September 15th, 2011
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The emerging robotics craze in the American educational system has now established itself in Wiesbaden, Germany, where children of U.S. military members are attending high school.

As the students' summer break came to an end, an important educational initiative was reaching its finale as well. Over the mid-year recess, more than 40 students from Wiesbaden High School were engaged in a long-awaited engineering summer camp that culminated in an engaging robotics competition.

"We talked about doing this for a number of years," noted camp director, Frank Pendzich, in a statement released by the Army. "[We focused upon] giving a broader range of students an opportunity to learn more about science, technology, math and engineering."

Pendzich had prior experience with robotics competitions but decided to approach this program with a somewhat unique strategy. The Wiesbaden summer program was focused on a more holistic mode of thought expected to develop creative problem solving skills that will serve students well in a variety of pursuits.

Instead of starting the program with discussion and memorization of technically challenging scientific principles, the camp began with team-building activities and abstract problem-solving exercises.

"The world needs more people who know how to problem solve – people with different ideas," said camp volunteer, Casey Mann. "As future engineers, we have to have the mindset that there's more than one solution."

According to Stars and Stripes, the Department of Defense Education Activity is looking to make good on President Obama's promise to redouble efforts in American science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The Wiesbaden robotics club is just one success story from the DODEA school system.

As part of a new pilot program, the agency will offer at least one class in robotics engineering, biotechnology, engineering, gaming technology or green technology in 11 of its schools across the United States, Europe and the Pacific, according to the source. School administrators have already invested more than $1 million in the development of the curriculum and intend to keep it standardized across all DODEA campuses. If deemed successful, organizers are optimistic that the program can be extended to more schools in the near future.

By providing hands-on, engaging outlets for STEM learning, educators are doing much more than simply ensuring students will be able to find jobs after graduation. These dedicated teachers are ensuring the next generation of robotics engineers will be equipped to solve previously unimaginable challenges and lead the nation into a new era of innovation.

Korea to host International Robot Contest 2011

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
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The 6th annual International Robot Contest will begin October 27 in South Korea. More than 5,000 teams from all over the world are expected to be in attendance at this year's event. Organizers from the Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement are already excited to put on an engaging and informative display for supportive parents and industry experts alike.

According to Industry & Technology Times, the competition will consist of 24 separate events spanning 10 different categories. Teams will be applying their engineering knowledge towards the construction of robots that can explore challenging terrain, educate students and mimic human actions.

The KIRIA has the difficult task of managing more than 40 robotics competitions across the country, but it is taking its robotics education responsibilities in stride.

"Our company will faithfully play its role to the robot educational market through the spread of robots to all people and the development and application of new robot technology," KIRIA officials told the news source.

This dedication to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) remains at the core of South Korean education. And as a display of solidarity with the event's mission, the country's president, prime minister and minister of knowledge economy will be in attendance and presenting awards to contest participants.

But officials also realize the importance of international collaboration for moving the robotics industry forward. Domestic engineers know that the technological progress of South Korea will not be achieved alone and they are keeping an eye on innovations around the globe.

"Advanced countries, including the U.S., Japan and the EU, are leading robot technology and introducing a series of success stories through commercialization of derivative technology," KIRIA president Joo told the news outlet.

Although Korean counterparts have made significant progress in the past two decades, U.S. robotics manufacturers seem to be penetrating new market segments every week. Doctors now incorporate robotics into complex surgeries and rehabilitation protocols. Soldiers are using the technology for supporting reconnaissance missions. And just this month NASA engineers have debuted a humanoid robot to assist operations at the International Space Station.

The industry appear to be in good hands these days. According to the most recent research from the International Federation of Robotics, first quarter robot sales in 2011 increased 53 percent over last year's figures. But it will take a cohesive international effort to continue the trend and achieve the organization's previously forecasted goal of $100 billion in revenue by 2018.

Summer camp makes science fun again

Friday, August 26th, 2011
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As summer comes to a close, legions of reluctant students across the country are setting their alarm clocks again and heading back to school. But at Eisenhower Middle School in Norristown, Pennsylvania, several students have already been hard at work in the classroom for several weeks. Earlier this month, 17 local students chose to take part in a fun new robotics camp.

Keeping teenagers interested in the often complex world of science and math is no small feat, particularly over summer break. With that in mind, program developers knew they had to keep activities fun and hands-on. The school already had a small robotics club during the school year, so organizers decided to take things a step further and conduct a week-long robotics camp.

According to the Times Herald, students began the week by building their robots in collaborative groups of three to four. Local college students and district technology officers served as mentors during the constructions. Ultimately, the student-created robots competed against each other in a game at the end of the week.

"Driving the robot is cool because you get to control it and score points," 8th grader, Dante Puleo, told the news source. "It's like basketball with robots."

The battery-powered devices roamed around a small court scooping up small rubber balls as they went along. After gathering the items using their unique grasping mechanisms, students would guide the robots over to a low-hanging basket and drop the balls in the containers.

The camp was an overwhelming success, delighting students, parents and teachers in the process. The school plans to harness the momentum of the project and expand its robotics club in the new year.

"What I like about robotics is that it has a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)," noted district instructional technology coordinator Beth Roth. "We add the whole range of 21st Century skills – communications, problem-solving, collaboration and team building."

Innovative projects such as robotics competitions continue to be a popular means of addressing the critical educational needs. Defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, took note of the occasion and decided to provide crucial funding for the robot systems. As the company states on its website, the future success of the engineering field relies on effective and engaging education that allows students explore and express their creativity today.

Student robotics competition culminates in space

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
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Students attending this summer's Salem CyberSpace robotics camp will be traveling to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to have their computer programs uploaded to robots stationed on the International Space Station.

According to the Boston Globe, students from the Salem, Massachusetts science program spent much of their summer learning robotic programming codes and constructing advanced gadgets during hands-on demonstrations.

"When I heard my mom was signing me up for a summer activity about science, I thought it would be a little boring," one student admitted to the news source. "But after spending one day here it was nice to see it wasn't supposed to be taken like school."

Program officials pointed to a concerning rise in the amount of students opting out of science and math in middle school. In an effort to help youth explore these subjects in engaging and informative ways, CyberSpace was able to secure funding from NASA as well as MIT.

Each of the 11 students graduating from the Salem CyberSpace program this year has plans for post-secondary education, according to Salem News.

Students make water-dwelling robots at summer camps

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
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Students attending the Navy's Sea Perch Summer Camp got to see first-hand some of the amazing things that can be done with STEM robotics.

According to Southern Mayland News, campers got to build an underwater robot, called the Sea Perch, all on their own. The goal was for the robot to be able to retrieve a black box used to record airplane flights from underwater.

Students who have previously participated in robotics competitions said designing a robot with the ability to operate underwater was a new, difficult challenge for them, according to the news source. Complications included designing the robot so that it was completely waterproof and making sure that it was capable of picking up and retrieving an object.

STEM education is extremely important because it helps students learn in fields that will be important in the future, according to Mind Shift. It will also help provide many jobs in the future that require skilled workers. Many companies are strong supporters of STEM education. For example, Intel says it has spent more than $1 billion on education projects, according to the news source.

University of Central Florida robotics team places second in national competition

Monday, July 18th, 2011
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The robotics team from the University of Central Florida recently took home second place in the Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, held in Oakland, California. For the contest, the teams were tasked with building an automated robotics system capable of navigating foreign environments, identifying obstacles and communicating data to a processing unit, reported AZORobotics.

With the help of a GPS, team-built robots were forced to navigate an obstacle course 330 feet long, 1320 feet in length and 240 feet wide, stated the news source. Contest judging was based on the speed in which the robotics system could navigate the obstacle course while avoiding the hazards set up by the event's planners. The team from UCF beat out 49 other organizations in the field, landing it in second place.

UCF's robotics team was made up of students focusing their collegiate studies in science, technology, engineering and math, reported the news provider. The club worked tirelessly on its advanced system, having begun planning in August of last year.

Robotics education at the university level has given birth to some impressive designs. According to the Stanford University News, students participating in the school's Experimental Robotics course produced robots that could swing swords, cook a meal and putt a golf ball.

STEM program in Texas continues technical education into the summer

Friday, July 8th, 2011
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According to Tech Times Online, Texas State Technical College is hosting a series of summer camps intended to teach students about various scientific fields. Program officials believe participation in the initiative will give students a leg up on subjects relating to science, technology, engineering and math.

Building on a technical curriculum, the TSTC Summer Academy also introduced a robotics-themed camp this year, reported the news source. Dubbed Waterbotics, the program will teach students the core principles behind electro-mechanical design and task them to build a functional underwater robotics system.

Students involved with the Summer Academy are learning core STEM concepts while interacting with their peers.

"I'm starting to learn things I've never learned before, that I didn't really know existed, like new sorting methods, so I'll be ahead in the game," said Samantha Rains, a sophomore a Midway High School in Midway, Texas. "I've had a good time and made new friends."

Initiatives such as the TSTC program may create the technical workforce of the future. According to DC Velocity, a robotics manufacturer recently hosted a series of field trips to get students interested in STEM concepts.

Washington robotics team wins national competition

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
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Students from Blaine High School in Washington state recently came in first at the TSA-VEX Robotics National Championship, reported the Bellingham Herald. The team, after qualifying for the finals by participating in several state competitions, also entered in a host of individual events as well.

The main event, called VEX Round Up, featured the team's robotic system, which all members had a hand in designing, programming and building, stated the news provider. Additionally, the Blaine High School group was randomly assigned partner schools for the final competition and through a collaborative effort was able to make its device stack plastic rings on a post. The partnership was an overwhelming success, as the alliance secured first place.

Students with the robotics team weighed in on their achievements.

"Knowing someone from Blaine could build such a good robot and win nationals is pretty impressive," Vincent Lee, a robotics team member, told the media outlet.

This competition was arguably more tame than some of the other robotic events out there, like one recently reported on by National Public Radio, in which battle robots fought each other to the death.