Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lego Robotics

A couple of years ago I was running Lego League teams.  Claire wasn't really into it but I was blown away by the NXT micro controllers and by the fact that kids had the opportunity to make cool robots with 5 different sensors, not only vehicles but robotic animals which I thought Claire might like.  She did for a bit and her team made it to the state competition but overall...not so much.

But I still have my Lego League table, gobs of robotics lego, NXT micro controllers and sensors... and I thought it was time to dust it off and organize it.  Tristan is just about the right age to get into it.  The programming language is easy and I thought the time was right to see if I could get this going again.  Also the new generation of Lego micro controller (EV3) is due out around September and it is amazing. Expensive but amazing and did I say amazing?  (The current NXT's can and will be used for  a year or two and parts will be available until mid 2015 so we will continue with the NXT at this point.)

I have been thinking a lot how to best run a class of 9-10 year olds new to lego robotics.  Since I last did it, several great books have been written, online tutorials made and expert building instructions are all over the web.  I am reading everything I can get my hands on from those First Lego League pioneers who have nurtured and instructed great teams over the years and in the process made fantastic robots.

I think rather can competing in Lego League the first year, we will spend the year learning in depth the physics, building techniques, strategy and the programming language with one on one parent involvement.  I want the children to know enough, have enough skills by the end of the year to be confident that they can do the First Lego League challenges completely on their own going forward. Project based homeschooling has taught me the importance of making sure that children know enough before you abandon them on their projects! You want to ensure success AND that they have achieved it on their own.  I want everything explained slowly, in small bites and ensure full understanding of concepts.  I have two parents who are IT engineers who will be assisting in this.  I am hoping to start in a week or two.

In the mean time, it is all about robot wars!

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