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Asked — Edited

After School Club Curicculum

As I mentioned elsewhere, I am toying with the idea of sorting out some kind of after school robotics club and am looking for ideas for the curriculum.

I know some members are currently running clubs themselves so really I was just after a bit of input there. What to start with, what order to go through things etc. etc. etc.

What I want to do is get everything in order so I can go to whoever and say "Here's what it is, here's where it aims to get to, this is how, are you interested?", so more of a paper shuffling exercise at the moment.

And while typing this, I just thought, why limit it to after school clubs? I now have the idea of a series of webinars etc.

Anyway, any ideas, any guidance etc. to help get something set up would be really appreciated.


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My interest in Robotics started with an after-school club run by one of the Physics teachers at my high school. 30 years ago, so I don't recall a lot about the structure, and we were just doing R/C and direct cable controlled bots at the time (wow, I wish we had EZ-B's back then...).

There was a moderate materials cost to join. The teacher had found a good source of motorized wheels and the school wouldn't pay for them, so we each paid a few dollars and were set up in teams where each team got two powered wheels and two casters. Most of the other materials were either supplied by the school metal and wood workshops, the physics department (wire and switches) or where scrap we sourced ourselves. Teams who wanted R/C bought servos and were allowed to borrow the receiver and transmitter from the teacher (he had at least 3 sets) for the duration of the course.

The R2D2 in some of the photos here: http://www.astcny.org/dev/gallery/photo-gallery/ was made by my teacher and some of his students the previous year and is what sparked the idea for the after-school club. (My teacher is the founder and CEO of that site, and is trying to start a science education museum).

That is a great idea Rich! I wish I had a program like that when I was in school. The best advice is to create a curriculum that is very interactive. Kids are overwhelmed with information on a daily basis. Most rarely get to use their hands and creative abilities. Also, the idea of robotics might be intimidating to some youngsters. A fun and interactive program will change those feelings and will prepare them for the future with robots. Best wishes on this endeavor.I am rooting for you.
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I would like to offer support to you on this, to start with if you get this up and running I will donate 2 brand new (retro) Bigtraks and show you how to hack them to the EZ-B, these will make great class mobile robot platforms. I can also help you with electronic, microcontroller stuff. I really like your idea and want to get our EZ:2 robots into schools there are wonderful possibilities for robots actually teaching autistic children. Three years ago I was asked by a head teacher of a local school to take an AIMEC:3 into a class to take part of the lesson, it was a huge hit, the children really liked the robot and the lesson was a great success.

Also at some point it may be possible to bring the EZ:1 robot down to one of your classes for a demonstration, where are you located? After launch multiple EZ;2 robots will be available for demonstrations and I want to get as much out about them (video) onto the web as soon I can.

Let me know if there are any other ways I can assist on this?

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Thanks everyone.

@Tony, I'll be in touch as and when required. At the moment it's just looking in to what's required, what order to do things, how to do them etc. etc. so it's probably some way off. I plan to do it in Cheltenham (known for it's horse racing and Brian Jones of the rolling stones, Edward Jenner and actually a lot of notable people) however it will depend on where the interest is (going by my nephew and his friends, the interest is there).

Having a special guest appearance by any of the AIMEC robots would be awesome, I can picture it now. After weeks of going through the hardware and software, building small rovers etc. and then "Bam!" in strolls AIMEC:3

Thanks for the support and advice. I have a few more links to check at some point too but any and all information, advice and guidance on this would be very much appreciated.
This depends on how long your class needs to be, I suggest that you start with a little history of the robot and the three laws of robotics.
Then anatomy comparison of the human body and the robot to understand movement. Then get into the EZ-B and building your first robot, boxbot would be excellent. Just a thought and suggestion.
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It's all welcomed so thanks:) If I find out the order in which people taught themselves and all that then I get a pretty good idea of the order which works for most people. I struggle at that bit as I learn differently to everyone else (was a huge problem in school for me, back then I was just classed as an awkward pupil).

I did a bit of reading up today and they don't half make you jump through hoops over here. A lot of paperwork and applications are needed just to work with kids... it's like they don't want us to do it. More reading to do tomorrow, a lot more reading, but it's slowly coming together and soon I'll know what I need to do:)
I applaud you sir. I think you will make an excellent teacher.

Brainstorming questions:
How many students to have in the class?
How long will the class last each day? How many classes will it take to complete the course?
What will be the minimum skill requirements to qualify to register for your class? (For instance; Some may not know how to solder or use certain power or hand tools. Some may not be computer savvy and some may be. )
What age range would be good?
-classes for small children with very basic bots (warning:short attention spans:P )
-classes for teens
-classes for adults
What will be the course outline? What is your goal? How complex will the course be?
Will you just teach concepts, methods, and scripting or will they be actually building a small robot?
Do you have to have insurance in case someone gets hurt? (Something as simple as clipping component leads may result in an eye injury.) Think Safety, Safety, Safety.
Where will the class be held? Will you need to rent a place to hold your classes? Utilities?
How much and what kinds of test equipment will be needed?
Will each student be creating their own robot or will each have the same generic robot to develop?
Will they be required to purchase their own kit from somewhere? One that your course materials are set up for?
How much will it cost each student?
Will you provide materials and basic tools or will they have to bring their own? What types of basic tools will they need?
What kind of classroom furniture will be needed? Work benches, tables, chairs,receptacles, power strips, etc.
Power tools,drill press, cordless drills, saws, etc.
Will you provide hardware such as fasteners and also other items like epoxy, paints, etc.?
Will you provide safety items such as safety glasses, gloves, dust masks, etc.?
Will you be making up and printing out the course literature, books, tests, etc?

Hope I haven't scared you away from this.....:D
Rich, I hope some of the links I sent you were helpful. I know that some links were broken of the page and some parts of it were specific to other platforms. However, there are some good tidbits you can pluck from the majority of it.
Rgordon has a good point. It will be a challenge trying to tailor a lesson plan to your target audience. You will always want to do so much more than time allows. In the end, you will either water down the majority of it or be highly thorough on parts of it. So it's a balancing act. Just like robotics projects, lesson plans evolve. The first run through will give you a good idea where to tweak it for the next class. Good luck to you and I commend you for taking the time to do this.
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That's brilliant Rex, that's just the kind of thing I was looking for:)

And thanks for the links Troy.
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I have checked the distance from here to Cheltenham and its a 3 hour drive so coming down for a day to your possible class is doable (say 3 hours down, 1 hour robot demo, 1 hour Q&A, 3 hours back) it can be all done in a day.

I would be bringing an EZ:1 or EZ:2 down (not an AIMEC:3) as I want to promote the EZ-B and ARC versions of my robots and that should tie in nicely with your EZ-B projects.

I think getting robotics into main stream education will massively expand the Worlds robotics industry. Its all to do with cost, if we can produce an advanced robotic platform (like the EZ:2) at the right cost point that schools can afford then we are halfway there.

I am wondering if its best to offer to go into the actual schools to do the classes.
Thanks Rich. Glad I could help you this time.
Rich, I think it is a great idea, and I wish you well with it. I do not know what advice I can offer you, but for what it is worth, although I am not a teacher, I worked in a juvenile detention center for ten years. The kids lived there, and had school onsite. I was the dayshift supervisor on Mon. through Fri. The kids were in school most of the time that I was there, and so I coordinated a lot with the education department. I often taught classes when they were shorthanded.

I think that toymakers suggestion is a good one. Perhaps you could put together a two hour presentation that you could put on in some local schools to get yourself started. I would use some PowerPoint, on a big screen to keep it on topic, incorporate lots of question and answer time, and take volunteers to do some hands on experimenting.

You would have to start out with basics. What is a robot? How is it different from an automated machine, like a car or an automatic door? Then work your way into logic, and simple programs. At each step, you would do a demonstration to keep their attention.

You wouldn't get a whole lot into a few hours, but I suspect that most schools would not want to give you more than that, and you would be pushing the limits on their attention spans considerably.

I know it's not exactly the workshop that you are looking for, but it would be a good first step. As you gain experience and a reputation, you could create seminars for different levels of experience. You would then be better situated to start a course of your own somewhere.

You have a talent for robotics, but more importantly, you have a talent for explaining things in a down to earth way that is easy to understand. If you want help to educate kids, it would be a shame for you not to follow through on that.

Being across the ocean, I can't physically help you, but any advice I can offer in creating curriculum, or help in designing artistic brochures, or hand-outs, or anything like that, just let me know.
Rich, any updates on you idea for an After School Club Curriculum?
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It's taken a little bit of a back seat at the moment due to one thing or another but currently I'm still wrapping my head around all of the red tape and paper work that's needed. They do like to make people jump through hoops where young people are concerned.