Getting Ready for a Robotics Residency

When booking for Robotics Residencies, try not to request multiple days in a row. If you have multiple days, a Monday / Wednesday, or a Tuesday / Thursday pattern with breaks in between robotic times works much better than a solid week particularly with younger students. Contact me if you need help with scheduling. If you have just bought the robots, 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). Also consider making you a part of a group (this is P. D. after all).
  • 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. On the other hand, when we're having technology problems, it is good having someone with some troubleshooting skills.
  • Glendale School uses three roles that are rotated every day. I've presented these roles in other schools and asked them to rotate every 5 to 15 minutes. The longer times work better with younger students. The roles are:
    • Programmer - responsible for looking after the computer,
    • Tester - responsible for looking after the robot,
    • Troubleshooter - responsible for making decisions, trying things out and coordinating the Programmer and Tester.