One of the major focal points of my curriculum is robotics. It is a fantastic, albeit expensive, way to give students a hands-on educational experience. It's my secret weapon to sneak in coding instruction. I have been accused of helping to create the inevitable robot overlords, but I'd rather argue that I am giving my students a technological advantage for their future endeavors. It is a perfect way to deliver a program that synthesizes science, engineering, math, and art.
I strongly feel the importance of teaching more than one "brand" of robot, and to that end I have been able to acquire several different platforms for my classes. Here are the various robots that one can find inhabiting my room. You can think of them as an army of sorts (but not to take over the world, don't worry).
Founded in 2015, we are the largest robotics club in JCPS. There are three VEX VRC and one FIRST FRC teams. Meeting times are from 2:30-4:00 PM on Wednesdays when school is in session. They have one lots of trophies for me! I'm also fortunate to have two co-captains, the great Shawn Canaday and the incredible Chris Brown.
In 2022 we were able to realize a big dream of ours. Our school district bought us a Boston Dynamics Spot robot! This gift gives our students the opportunity to operate and program a true industry-standard robot. The full name of the bot is "Reginald Champ Compton" in honor of a faculty member's favorite pet.
Gillybot is my personal robotic platform. I developed him over a period of six years by combining different Makeblock kits. He currently runs on a Me Auriga microprocessor with a Bluetooth controller. Gillybot is the unofficial mascot of our magnet, and he has made numerous appearances at robotics tournaments, Makerfaires, and the VBS program at my church.
The Clawbots were one of our first purchases with the Verizon grant. We bought a class set, and the poor bots have certainly seen some mileage. I'm in the process of attaining some of the newer V5 units. We use these in our junior classes to teach C+ programing.
These are part of our NICERC curriculum for the sophomore year. Students learn how to program these using P-Basic, a hobbyist program that has been around since the 1990s. It's a great platform to teach logical programing, use of variables, and memory assignment.
This little army is completely teacher funded. They are programmed in Scratch, and they are equipped with enough sensors to make it interesting. The big bonus is that I teach a great sumobot program for them. They are primarily used with my freshmen classes.
Lamont, named after the best security guard in all of JCPS, is a prototype facial recognition robot. He was designed as an STLP and science fair project. We used a tiny PC to run our Linux-base facial recognition program. The base and drive were an Andy Mark Peanut chassis with a Cheap and Dirty control system.