The Iona PS robotics program is back for 2017, with 12 excited, promising new members from Year 5 and Year 6. The “Robotic Rebels”, with several new members, are returning this year; and our new mixed Years 5-6 team, “No Signal”, voted on their team name and logo last week. Welcome aboard girls!
Forays into Mindstorms Programming
With so many new members this year, we ran separate first-year and second-year EV3 programming challenges through Term 1. After exploring the use of flowcharts in robotics programming, our first-year students worked through the Drag Race and Maze Challenges, before exploring the use of the touch and ultrasonic sensors. Apparently, it is lots of fun to drive robots at walls (IF you know how to stop!)
Our second-year students explored intermediate to advanced programming techniques, including displaying text on the robot’s screen, using data wires to transfer sensor information into data or maths blocks, and proportional line following techniques. Amazingly, one girl recently managed to solve the incredibly difficult line follow challenge on our robotics mat – using 2 sensor proportional line following! Once again, I’d like to thank @EV3Lessons … whose resources help make this program possible!
When we started our LEGO robotics program a few months ago, I wasn’t sure how far we could push our FLL girls’ programming skills this year. Time and time again; however, they have surprised me with their persistence, curiosity, and drive to solve the problems I have put in front of them. This was especially true with our forays into the use of ultrasonic and colour (light) sensors, which I had originally planned to introduce next year.
The Ultrasonic Sensor
The ultrasonic sensor, rather appropriately, functions as a set of ‘eyes’ for the Mindstorms robot. It bounces sound waves to accurately detect the distance from an obstacle – in a similar fashion to how sonar works in a submarine. In the limited time we had, only a few students experimented with this sensor this year. I am hopeful that one or two might have a go at learning how to use it in the upcoming FLL season, but it will definitely be a focus for Year 6 robotics in 2017.
The Colour Sensor
The colour sensor can be used to detect different coloured lines & the colours of obstacles on the mat. Our primary focus this year was introducing a few key team members to basic black line following using the colour sensor and the switch (IF/ELSE) programming block. This wasn’t an easy process to learn (or teach)!
With their current line following program, the Year 6 girls can follow straight and slightly wavy lines, but struggle following very curved lines (which requires two colour sensors & more advanced programming skills). We will return to line following later in the year.