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Monday I Started Teaching Robotics To 4Th And 5Th Grade Students

My first class on Robotics was last Monday. This class is currently for 4th and 5th grade students and is using EZ-Robot products. The class is strictly voluntary and is taught after school. 50% of the students that are in the 4th and 5th grade have chosen to stay at school an extra hour to learn about robotics through this program. We have called the program SM@RT which stands for Science and Math through Robotic Technology. There are other programs currently running that other students had previously committed to participating in that are held at the same time. Some of these programs are over in December and I expect that participation percentage to be closer to 60% by that time. Here is what some of the parents had to say about the program after only the first day...

Stacie Smith Cobbs Sounds fun! Grace really wanted to take the class and she was so disappointed to find out it was during allegro. Which also is on Mondays.

School board member
Stacy O'Toole Webb They are SO excited! Thank you from all
Stacy O'Toole Webb And, now we are doing chores to earn a robot. Whatever it takes.

Melissa French Luke F. loved it! Thank you for giving of your time and knowledge!

Headmaster who saw some of the first lesson
Steve Lessman Incredible! Thank you for using your knowledge & insight to help students at SWCS.

Rick Megan Still Ethan loved it, he wouldn't stop talking about it all the way home! Thank you!

Christi Jones-Martin Great! Grayson will be joining you in January when Allegro ends!

Mykl Spaeny You blew my boys away! They talked my leg off tonight. Jake has put a robot on his Christmas list. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you EZ-Robot for making it easy to teach a subject that is so complex. I cant wait until they make the robot move for the first time.

We covered a lot in the firs class including
Analog data
Digital data
Default wire colors and what they represent
Sonar sensors - how they work and what they are used for
IR distance sensors - How they work and what they are used for
Light sensors - How they work and what they are used for
Cameras - When they work great and when you would want to use other sensors instead
Microphones - when you would use them and why
Servo motors - how they work and when you would want to use them
Stepper motors - How they work and when you would want to use them
Analog ports on the EZ-B V4
Digital ports on the EZ-B V4
Camera port on the EZ-B V4

They soaked the information in like a sponge. I quizzed them at the end of the class some and they did great. Tomorrow I am going to go meet these students for lunch. I look forward to it.

The next lesson is going to be on Electricity. That is a huge subject but we will cover
Electrons, Protons, and neutrons
How batteries work
How electricity flows through their robots.
How to limit this electricity for devices that require less voltage

I have some fun ways of teaching about electricity that help the kids remember principles of electricity that many people dont understand.

Feel free to follow the students progress at HTTP://cochranrobotics.com/SMART

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Very nice design concept with some robotic functions visible.
Great robot and testing platform!

You are doing a great job and thanks for sharing what you are doing.

Today went well at SM@RT. We discussed how situations half way around the world in Hong Kong have delayed the shipping of our robots, which are stuck in Hong Kong right now. We also used this as a chance to show that your actions can affect other people even half way around the world. This can be for good or bad, but that is for each of us to choose. We finished going through ARC for all of the non-robot-function parts of the software. We also discussed the difference between a tethered robot and an untethered robot and how EZ-Robot is tethered which gives you a lot of advantages over untethered robots. We discussed Wifi and how Wifi is the method of tethering that EZ-Robot uses and how Wifi is everywhere now. We will discuss AP mode vs Client mode in an upcoming class.

The students asked a lot of questions, some of them kind of silly, but their imaginations are starting to work on what they want their robot to do. I mentioned that you could make a robot to do your homework, but that would mean that you would have to know how to do your homework, and then be able to program your robot to do your homework which would be more difficult than just doing your homework, and much less fun than programming your robot to do other cool things instead of homework.

Next week we should be able to start building JD, Six, a 3D printed Six, Wall-E and Gizmo (a class built robot from the previous post). Everyone is excited for this and looks forward to being able to start making robots do something. If this had been a daily class, we would be into the second week of it and already building robots. How cool would that be?
How cool would that be?

I think it's really cool how you tie in the global perspective in regards to Hong Kong, and I had a good laugh at the bit about homework. Keep up the good work David!
We got the robots and presented them to the class today. Each week we have been giving points to teams who answered questions correctly. These points were then cashed in today for the choice of which robot each team wanted to work on first. Six and JD went first, with our 3D printed six being third followed by Wall-E and then our prototype robot that we made in class a couple of weeks ago. We have one more robot that we should get by the time we switch up robots.

We covered the different WIFI modes and what each is used for. We also connected each tablet to each robot and added the EZB-V4 Info module which shows the temp of the processor in the robot and the current battery level. We also added the camera module and showed what the camera on each robot was seeing. I asked the teams to tell Tate (my helper) what they knew about the robots they have to work with. It is interesting to see their first impressions. Its hard to hear what they are saying, but this will be compared to a video that will be recorded after they have spent about 4 hours with this robot.

The plan is to rotate the robots between the groups. We have 2 robots that were bought and designed by someone else, 1 that uses someone else's design but is 3D printed, 1 that is a modification of an exiting design and one that was designed by the class. Two of these are 6 legged robots, 1 is a biped, 1 is wheeled, and one is tracked. This is a pretty good spread of robots and will help the students to be exposed to many different types of robots.

Great robotic exposure and opportunity for kids.
They are fortunate to have a great teacher.
Steve S
That was awesome! They all look like they are having lots of fun!
Way awesome!

Thanks for sharing .. loved to see the smiles.
Today was very exciting for the students. We started working with the Auto Position Movement Panel in ARC. I showed the students how to build Frames and Actions, and then spent time with the group that has JD on how to Calibrate JD. It didn't take them long at all to Calibrate JD and they are all looking forward to a Friday session that is longer to get to play with this component in ARC. Friday, I plan on spending a while at the school working with them on using the Auto Position Movement Panel for a longer period of time, which will let them do more than just wave hello.

The students are very excited now and are really looking forward to Friday. Also, I had a lot of fun today. Good times!
It has been a while since the last update.

We were able to spend about 4 hours one friday a couple of weeks ago with the robots. There were 7 students who showed up for this. The students used the demo projects for these robots and had the robots running all over the floor chasing each other, and avoiding chairs and tables. The ones who were able to attend had a great time.

Last monday we discussed what each robot could be used for. We didn't spend a lot of time with the robots, but spent a lot of time thinking about how each robot could be used by the school for things like delivering messages to teachers, telling stories to other students, entertaining other students with dances and other animatronic type activities and as a telemetry robot.

Yesterday I had the students start a new project to have them focus on movement. Simple things like moving forward, moving backward, turning left and turning right were attempted by the students. The students quickly discovered that tracked or wheeled robots were much simpler to make move. One group with a six got their robot to take one step. The JD robot could take about 1/2 of a step and the wall-e and prototype were moving in a matter of minutes. We didn't use the example projects for this so that the students could understand the logical steps to making a robot do something. It was an exciting time for the students that got theirs to move correctly. Next week we will use the example projects for the walking robots and build from there.

Until next week, have a great one all!
That's great to hear @d.cochran! Loving the updates. :)
Awesome! I need to sign myself up for one of your classes!
I am posting an update to say that there hasn't really been an update. I know that is weird but there are some people who are monitoring this thread.

Last week we were hit with a snow storm that cancelled school. It wasn't bad, but ice makes roads bad when you have kids that are traveling up to 50 miles one way to attend school. Being a private school that has had many national merit scholars over the past few years (about 15% of the graduating seniors) brings people from great distances to the school.

This upcoming week the school is out for Thanksgiving. As such, there is no class this coming week. This has given me time to get all of the robots in correct working condition again, which will help the class to progress more smoothly, and the phrase "Mr. Cochran, this didn't work" to be heard far less frequently. I did have a talk with the class a couple of weeks ago about them depleting my personal stock of servo motors and other electronics, and about how these were robots and not dolls, and should be controlled from the computer and not by hand. They understand that by doing so, they are destroying servo motors that cost money to replace. In any event, they are learning the best lesson available by doing this in that some of the groups had to look on with other groups instead of work with their robots due to "mistakes" that they had made. For me, it gives me a great deal of experience in fixing issues with the robots that were caused by these students. All is good and we should be back on track next week.

Another piece of exciting news for us has arrived. Our Roli robot has moved to a phase of "Step 3 of 4) Preparing Order". We will be replacing my Wall-E with this robot. It will allow me to start working on this build again, or allow me to gut this robot and use the components in my InMoov build. I haven't decided which to do yet, but I am leaning toward the InMoov build. I will be buying an Ultimaker 2 in February and restarting all of my prints then, so I have plenty of time to decide. I plan on placing my 3 EZ-B V4's in the InMoov and making him mobile via a home built Segway. This is an ambitious project but one that I see showing the abilities of the V4 very well. The first step of this project is to get the Wall-E back to use some of the components to reduce the cost of the build, which will allow me to get a 3D printer that is touted as very good. I sure wish the smart extruder on the makerbot 5th gen was all that it was supposed to be. If it were, I would go in that direction, but at this point it seems to be far more frustrating than promising.

Have a great week. I hope it finds everyone in good health and with time to work on their robots.
I took apart the robots and basically told the students to build whatever they wanted to build with the parts their team choose. We did an auction for the parts. More videos will be posted as other teams complete their robots. This was a lot of fun for all and really got the students motivated. I told them that I wouldn't help them but told them that I would inspect their work before they turned on the robots.

Here is the first robot that was "completed" with its maden run.

This is amazing! Make sure they create the 3D designs of their robots and we will review them!
Will do. I love the excitement on their faces. The funny thing is I knew he was about to get it from watching from a distance. I had to capture that excitement. It took them about 1 hour total work to get it working from a disassembled robot to something that worked. There is one in the background of the video that walks like a snake ( or more like a caterpillar) pretty well. The camera is messing up on it so I will figure out what is going on with it and next week they should have it working. Both of these are pretty cool designs. There is another one that uses some extension blocks and 3 six legs to walk. The battery and EZ-B are held on with rubber bands. It is a very simple design but pretty cool to watch the students make it walk.

I am proud of these kids. They have learned a lot. This summer they are going to help me build my InMoov.