Asked September 11 2014

Community Question

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://

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November 4 2014
Awesome! I need to sign myself up for one of your classes!
November 22 2014
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.
April 20 2015
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.

April 20 2015
This is amazing! Make sure they create the 3D designs of their robots and we will review them!
April 20 2015
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.