Welcome to Iona PS Robotics for 2017

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!

 

Team Building with Fun, Laughter, and Robots

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During the October school holidays, we ran our first holiday robotics workshops. Both our Year 5 and Year 6 FLL teams completed several Core Values challenges (team building activities); invested a few hours into their mission planning and programming; and chose a topic for their research projects. It was a very busy, but wonderful two days.

Core Values Challenges

As mentioned in a previous post, the FLL core values are central to the competition experience. Succeeding in FLL isn’t necessarily about ‘winning’ – it is about learning, solving problems as a team, and having FUN!

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As part of the holiday workshops, the girls completed two core values challenges. The first, the “Towel Turn Over Challenge” (aka Magic Carpet), was a lot more difficult than anyone had anticipated. To complete the challenge, the girls had to stand on a beach towel, and turn it over without their hands or feet touching the floor. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

To succeed in this challenge, the girls had to learn how to communicate effectively within their team. They had to stand back, discuss the problem, and ensure they listened to each other’s suggestions and strategies. The girls also had to develop their resilience and ability to learn from (repeated) failure. This wasn’t easy – although it was very entertaining to watch!

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The second team challenge was to design and build a bridge out of marshmallows and spaghetti. The idea was to create the longest bridge, but I think towers might be more challenging – we’ll try that next year. The marshmallows (and pasta) went down a treat 🙂

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Mission Programming

After spending several weeks working out which missions to focus on for this competition, these workshops provided the girls with their first dedicated opportunity to work on the programming and engineering for the robot game. The girls started by mapping out their algorithms – the sequence of steps required to solve the missions, and prototyping attachments.

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Starting our FLL Projects

As part of their preparation, the students need to identify a real world problem relating to the challenge theme, and come up with an innovative solution to that problem – which they present to the judges at the tournament.

This year, our theme is Animal Allies, and the project focuses on improving the interactions between humans and animals. After much discussion, brainstorming, and debate, the Year 5s have decided to focus on marine animals, and the Year 6s will focus on the dairy industry. As part of their research, the girls will need to seek the advice and expertise of experts in these fields – which we hope to do over the next two weeks.

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With less than six weeks to go before the tournament, we have a LOT of work to do! 

We’d like to thank Ms D (Year 5) for her help running these school holiday workshops; and we’d especially like to thank our parents, who helped provide a wonderful morning tea over the two days 🙂