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PostCompetitionNotes

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 6 months ago

PostCompetitionNotes

 

These are some notes on the botball project reflecting back after the conclusion.

 

Timeline

DHS signed up for participating in the botball competition in October following approval of a Duxbury Education Grant. The grant paid for the entry fee of several thousand dollars, some pd time, and some materials to make the board.

 

In December there was a professionial development day. This day was attended by Mrs. Lewis and a senior class student. Hardware for the class included a pico cricket, mounted on a laser cut base with two motors, a touch switch and a photoresistor.

 

In January, last week of the semester, last day of exams, there were two days of pd. Mrs. Lewis and a different, junior class student attended the workshop. in the workshop, they recieved the actual kit of competition supplies. before the workshop, we did not know what the hardware was going to be. We were surprised that the hardware platform was a Roomba Create. On the second day, I wend with the same student who went to the previous day.

 

On returning from the workshop, I still thought that the competition prep would be done as an after school project. We were to have a meeting to discuss strategy and set up a group to work on building and programming the robot. The meeting happened with a few students. It was a very quick meeting, and I missed most of it while getting from one part of the building to the other. That group never assembled again.

 

 

 

 

professional development days

December

January

Professional Development

We had Three professional development days for this project. To these days, we sent only one teacher each day and one student each day. I only participated in one day. The two different students who did go to the workshops did not end up having meaningful roles in the project.

 

It would be much better to have a group of students go the the workshops. There should be a mix of grade levels, and a mix of build focused people vs programming focused people.

 

The space in which the workshop was held was extremely cramped, and probably not a good space to have the workshop. It would have been much more productive if there were more table space. We were jammed into a corner, and the student from another school was busy playing games on the computer and watching tv show reruns instead of actively participating in the workshop. This set a poor example for the dhs student who actually could have benefitted from some interaction. Also in the workshop, it would be very helpful to make some better connections to other schools' faculty and students. It would have been nice to be able to turn to somebody for assistance with the code, understaning the rules and game play. I did send an email to a half dozen or so teams in Massachusetts, but did not get any response to my call for help.

 

These days would be much more productive if we had a larger group of students participating and at least two teachers involved in each session. On returning, we should meet to build a realistic strategy for meeting the project milestones.

 

Getting kids involved in the project

This project never reached a critical mass of the dozen or so committed and curious students it needed to work smoothly. The workshops only had one student each attending, and these students did not come back to evangelize about the project. When asked if kids wanted to go to the workshop, their main concern was if they would be excused from school for a day. When students heard that they would miss out on the final day of exams, when only one was scheduled, it got a cool reception.

 

Also, when pitching the competition, students saw that they would give up a weekend day and did not want to give that day up. The day of the competition was a day of many first of season practices and games.

 

 

Learning the code

The code for programming the devices is Interactive C. It is very similar to C++ and C. The interface is similar to many syntactical code editors. There are a number of functions and libraries available for the programmer to use.

 

Finding a clear, concise indexable tutorial proved to be frustrating. There were sources of information, but there were not good indexes. A lot of the programming resources were found on very long web pages with too few anchors in the text. It was not easy to link right in to the part of the code/language that we were focusing on.

 

 

Understanding the game

 

Group Dynamics

 

Competition preparation

 

Competition followup

Within a day of returning, I sent an email out to the building principles telling of the students who participated, and how they did in the competition. This message did not result in any additional publicity at this writing a week later. I could send this same message to the local papers to get some recognition.

 

When I ran into Ed Perry, owner of WATD, I told him of the project, and how the kids who went to the competition had a good time. He said that he would like to support the robotics team just as much as the sports teams. He invited me to call the news department at the station to organize an interview. I contacted several of the students involved, found that they were interested in participating in the interview, then contacted the station to schedule the time.

 

The interview was scheduled for a professional development day, when the students were off, and I did not have classes to cover.

 

Here is a link to the audio - http://dhsbotball.pbwiki.com/f/mid-day%20report%204-11-08.mp3

Here are the photos - http://flickr.com/photos/connors934/collections/72157604421007482/

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