Robotics: The Classroom Frontier

Well, I must admit, I don’t have a whole lot to update since my last post.  Things have been going well enough:  I’ve gotten the teacher suggestions for students, now I just need to inform them and find out if they are interested; that will happen this week, as I’d like to have my first group meeting next Wednesday, which will coincide with the LRES Brick Bunch.

When I conceived of this project, my initial thought was for a quad-rotor type flying drone to travel along the Nature Trail, but I figured I’d let the students decide if they wanted to go that route or something more land-based.  I also thought a hovercraft type, riding on a cushion of air, would be a cool choice, but as the plan got more fleshed out, I figured it would have to be some sort of wheeled, legged, or tracked robot, to get over and around the terrain, as our primary building materials, Lego, would probably be way to heavy, considering the battery packs and controllers and all.  Well, I have come to learn, through some basic research, that there is actually a company out there that makes quad-rotor drone kits, where you build the frames out of Lego.  Beyond that, drone parts (motors, control boards, batteries, etc.) are nowhere near as expensive as I had imagined them to be, so I’m excited at the possibility that we may indeed be able to build a flying robot, that will be able to zoom out over the river itself for some video shots.  This is so exciting!

I attended the NHSTE Night of Networking and got to meet several of the folks in charge, as well as to play with some other cool robots.  I particularly liked the spherical one, which would be a cool concept for ours, but I don’t know if it could get over the terrain.  BB-8 was not a good design for getting around the desert and I don’t think it would get around the forest floor very well either.  The meeting also convinced me that I really, REALLY need to learn how to code.  I consider it the one essential ‘geek’ skill that I don’t have, and not having it could really hamper this project and my students.

I also had my first experience with project administration this week, having to get together all of my receipts for purchases for the grant project.  Thankfully, I have been conscious of the fact that I was going to have to do this, so I already had everything filed electronically and organizes, so it was a pretty painless procedure.  I’ve got to keep that in mind.

Well, in my next post, I should have more info and details, as by then, I’ll hopefully have gotten the grant group together for the first time.  I guess I had more to update than I thought.

Exciting times are ahead…

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