Getting Ready for a Robotics Residency

Even though I am retired, this information is still useful when starting robotics. 

When booking for Robotics Residencies, try not to schedule multiple days in a row -  a Monday / Wednesday, or a Tuesday / Thursday pattern with breaks in between robotic times works much better. If you have just bought the robots and are overwhelmed with all the "stuff", check out the podcast, ​Getting Started With New NXT Kits

Here is a checklist to help prepare for robotics:

School Considerations

Before robotics starts, please:

  • Assemble the robots to the base model plus:
    • NXT - add the light sensor
    • EV3 - add the ultrasonic and colour sensors
  • Assemble the sensors and sensor mounts, number them to match the robots and put them in large plastic zip-top bags (all the touch sensors in one bag, the sound sensors in another, etc.) Hint: This will help you as you do different projects - it'll be quick to add or remove sensors.)
  • Decide how and who will charge the robots. Some schools have zip-tied power bars to the carts while other schools use a science room (lots of plug-ins). Decide who is responsible for plugging in the robots. 
  • For younger students you may want to set up a generic kindergarten account or arrange for older students to login for younger ones.
  • Decide on an "on-call" staff person who can provide parachute (drop-in and drop-out) troubleshooting. 

Classroom Preparation

  • Create groups for robotics. Consider homogeneous groups (it's possible to differentiate challenges for students at different levels). 
  • Have students log in to a computer, find the Mindstorms program and run it so they are aware of that process.
  • Anticipate the math curriculum you are working on. This will drive the majority of the robotic project.  Real-world experience can be gained by programming robots using computation, decimals, Cartesian plane, ratios, counting, addition and subtraction, geometry and between-ness concepts.
  • Do some group work where turn-taking is important. It's vital for robotics.
  • Parent volunteers: This is where you need to take the measure of your volunteer. You want someone who will ask moderating questions like, "Whose turn is it next?" or "How should you solve that problem?" rather than someone who solves problems for the students. 

Talk about frustration as the engine of learning. We want medium frustration for maximum learning. Remind students that:

  • Medium frustration sounds like this: "Grrr, it didn't work! OK, let's try this."
  • Too much frustration sounds like: "Grrr, it didn't work! We don't know what to try next!" and students need to ask for a hint.
  • Too little frustration sounds like: "That worked. That worked. That worked too... this is easy!" which means students are not maximizing learning and need a larger challenge.