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A College robotics course: Lego Mindstorms plus real-world topics

A course taught at Purchase College/SUNY incorporating Lego Mindstorms plus lecture & library research.

Jeanine Meyer

on 21 April 2012

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Transcript of A College robotics course: Lego Mindstorms plus real-world topics

Teaching STEM using Robotics
Lego Mindstorms + real-world topics Jeanine Meyer
Purchase College/SUNY Why?
Background & motivation for course What?
Course description
(Task for you!) Reflections, questions [ancient] work in robotics
at IBM Research (1977-1991) Box frame robot
variations made for circuit board testing, cable harness

A Manufacturing Language (AML)

Software for out-sourced Scara robot
(used in manufacture of Apple Macs!)

Manufacturing Systems
tools for logistics, surgery by robot (Robodoc) Science: Give students introduction to operating in the physical world (better model of nature), including using sensors to obtain information on the real world.

Continuous phenomena as opposed to discrete
Time Technology/engineering/mathematics:
General problem-solving & critical thinking
(including ethics, context, ....) We are all grand masters at ...
putting things on top of things, assembly,
recognizing many patterns, etc.
Peter Will, IBM This makes the programming more difficult,
not less. Liberal Arts & Sciences
School of the Arts Students not engineers (and neither am I and there is little technical support). Many not particularly strong in programming. But they are

Mathematics/Computer Science
New Media
others majors: Drama studies, Creative writing, also Continuing Education

Wide variety of backgrounds: need experience using scientific method, engineering discipline.

They are good sports; often adventuresome and creative; push themselves. Lego Mindstorms Partial solution to problems: robust, relatively inexpensive
Lego replaced bricks that failed before 3rd and 4th offerings of course (after warranty period passed)
Capped enrollment at 15 (tends to go up)
Team work is its own goal.
Restrict kits to lab. Some students purchase kits. Made exceptions at end of term. First Day Ways to program [industrial] robots
Program with sensory feedback
[data driven automation] What are instructions / how do you teach someone to tie their shoes? ... lab only part of the course
and students responsible for defining their final building project. The rest of the course:
lectures, library research, postings Levels of language
Basic mechanics
Very, very basic kinematics & inverse kinematics
Types of manufacturing, automation
3D CAD (Google SketchUp)
Movement in a crowded workspace
Robot assisted surgery
... Drones *
Art (installations)
Health care
smart house
versus robot aide*
MIT leg lab
17th -18th century robots
Uncanny divide*
Autonomous vehicle (DARPA)
and additions to current cars Home health care
Soccer robotics
Artificial limbs
Oscar Pistorius issue*
Vacuuming (roomba)
DARPA Tribot. NXT-G.
Basics, each sensor
then ...
parallel parking
mapping a room
(these now required) Mapping exercise:

Assume tribot, with bump, ultrasound, rotation sensors
You define constraints.
Generate data to be uploaded to personal computer
to draw the room.
Geometry, trigonometry, algebra Materials
[old] schedule, lecture notes, midterm & final guide
http://faculty.purchase.edu/jeanine.meyer/charts.html Building project abstracts 2010
http://faculty.purchase.edu/jeanine.meyer/roboticsSpring2010.pdf Results x 3 (4?) Success
[I believe] students understood the difficulties in robotics
and the wide variety of R&D and actual real-world use.
Students did well on tests.
Students attempted challenging projects.
Anonymous surveys positive.
Informal feedback positive.
Giving course every other year is a problem
Good, easy-going group all 4 times facilitated team work. New faculty member is teaching Physical Computing, with Arduino microprocessors. Point of view of artist. Practice truth-in-advertising!
Let students know the lab is ~ half of the course.

Good to have some experience/insight into industrial robotics (or installation art) Questions for you Continue with NXT-G (iconic language) or use RobotC?

Google Sketchup: stay with basic 'get to know' or do less or do more?

Require more or less postings?

Require participation in nxtasy 0r similar forum? How to improve participation of females or be satisfied:
4-5 out of 15-18, slightly ahead of math/cs and new media Raise standards: what to do if final building project doesn't work (sick puppy)? What to do with graduates of k-12 programs? Thank you
Email: jeanine.meyer@purchase.edu
Visit: http://faculty.purchase.edu/jeanine.meyer Shameless plugs:
The Essential Guide to HTML5: Using games to learn HTML5 and JavaScript.

HTML5 and JavaScript Projects

videos, one/year Lego Mindstorms Building projects: 2012
dragster, golf-bot, catapoult, sumo, draw-er
Full transcript