Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Revolutionary new teaching tool!

Hello Fellow Educators,

Here at the Robotics Academy we are developing multiple technologies and resources that you might want to consider for your classrooms. In this edition you will find:

Revolutionary new teaching tool!

“A Revolutionary Way to Learn to Program Robots!” That’s what a teacher said at our ROBOTC forum.  “Wow, this is really cool.”; that’s what kids in classrooms say. 
Carnegie Mellon is developing an innovative tool that enables kids to program robots in a game-like environment. You can download a free version of the Robot Virtual World programming software that your students can use at home or at school. The great thing about this software is that you can test your robots in the virtual world and then use the exact same code to program real robots. Teachers are free to use this free resource in summer camps, at home, or in other settings this summer.  
Visit the Planet H99 site by going to
This project is part of the development of our "Computer Science Social Network ". Computer programming and algorithmic thinking are new basics that all students need to understand. Our project provides students with opportunities to learn how to build animations and games, program robots, learn fundamental STEM concepts, and learn how multi-robot communications happens. The project started in September 2010 and we’ve already developed new technology that will change the way students learn.This project is inspired by DARPA. DARPA is looking out 10 years and predicts that based on the number of students currently studying computer science, we will only be able to fill 30% of the computer science related jobs that our country will need to compete economically. DARPA requests that we track student, teacher, and hobbyist usage and that is the reason that we ask you to login to get the free new Robot Virtual World Software.

New features, new robots, and a new planet

New game features include gripper arms on robots, access to light and touch sensors, four new challenges, the ability to accrue points and move to different levels, and an additional planet called H98. Pictured below is a new robot to program while you are on the planet. 

New Mini Rover


You will notice that it has similar characteristics to the NXT robot shown at the right; both robots have two drive wheels and a coaster. This robot has built-in encoders, a sonar sensor, and a compass sensor.

Helping Boy Scouts earn their new Robotics Merit Badges

Congratulations to the Boy Scouts of America on the creation of their new Robotics Merit Badge. The new merit badge will be a smash hit with boys across the world; the new merit badge appeared to be very popular at the recent Boy Scout Leader’s Conference in San Diego, California. At the conference, the Robotics Academy presented their plans to support the Boy Scouts as they earn the merit badge.
Click here to learn more about merit badge counselor classes, merit badge resources, and how the robot virtual world software can help scouts who don’t have access to robots.

Summer Robotics Teacher Training

Since 2003, Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy has offered robotics training to teachers across the country. This summer we will offer training on how to program Arduino, LEGO, and VEX robot controllers. Classes start the last week of June and run through August.  We limit the number of attendees to 24 teachers per week.Teachers learn from Robotics Academy instructors and also from each other. 

LEGO “Robots in Motion” Curriculum Testing this Summer

Another ongoing research project in the Computer Science Social Network is the integration of a Cognitive Tutor into our newly developed “Robots in Motion” Curriculum.
The curriculum foregrounds measurement, angles, speed, scale, and rate as students learn to measure and make precise moves and turns using robots that come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The AI-based tutor uses special algorithms to provide hints and measure a student’s mastery of STEM concepts as he or she works through a series of engineering design problems.
If you don’t have a CS2N account, simply click "New User" to get started!

Attention Teachers: What do you want in your robotics report?

This summer, we are also soliciting design input into the next generation of teacher interfaces for the Robots in Motion curriculum. Is there some key graph of student data you’ve always wished you could see? What information needs to be front and center on a student's robotics progress report? If you have an idea for what we need to include in our Robots in Motion teacher reports, drop us a line at!

PLTW Summer Training

PLTW Teachers for the Principles of Engineering, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Aerospace Engineering, and Gateway to Technology courses will receive training inROBOTC's new Natural Language to prepare them for their transition to the VEX Robotics system. To kick-off the training, a group from the Robotics Academy offered several workshops for the PLTW Master Teachers and Trainers, who will be training the rest of the PLTW network.
The Robotics Academy has committed to the continued support of the PTLW network through free webinars, curricular resources, forums and technical support. PLTW Teachers are also encouraged to attend one of the Robotics Academy's Online or On-site Training Classes.

Multi-Robot Communications in ROBOTC

It's not hard to imagine a world where robots are talking to each other. One part of the development of our Computer Science Social Network consists of a team conducting research around developing a combination of hardware, software, and curriculum that enables students to learn about Multi-Robot Communications. We have integrated libraries into ROBOTC for the LEGO NXT, VEX Cortex and Arduino Uno/Mega platforms.
The team’s plan for this summer is to demo and test the lessons and labs they have worked on with a group of teachers this summer. The technology that we are developing uses a low cost wireless Xbee radio to create a mesh network between different types of robot controllers.
The robots are able to pass small messages back and forth to create group intelligence and the ability to solve challenges that a single robot could not. To simplify this, the development team has begun building easy-to-use tools and commands into ROBOTC to make this technology accessible to all levels of programmers.

Take a sneak peak at some of the Video, Labs and Lessons on the team’s development Wiki are available at Check this part of the project often because we are expecting great work from this team this summer.

© Copyright 2011 Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

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