RobotsLAB Blog


Your Robot Chauffeur Has Arrived

Posted by Anna Sandler

Sep 8, 2014 1:26:00 PM



We are very pleased to announce today that the NAO robot from Aldebaran Robotics has two new homes: behind the wheel of a BMW Z4 electric car, and exclusively available only from RobotsLAB. 

 

The stylish BMW Z4 is now part of the broad STEM curriculum services available from RobotsLAB as well for developers.  The NAO + Car will be offered by RobotsLAB as part of our STEM-U program; a holistic and revolutionary curriculum for STEM subjects from pre-K to higher education that makes use of robots and other visual tools.  Under the STEM-U umbrella, we now offer standards-aligned curricula using drones, rovers, robots, Cubelets, 3D printers, and even basketballs.  All part of our mission to assist teachers and better engage students using the most innovative tools available to twenty-first century educators.

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Topics: Robotics, STEM, Education, Press, Computer Science, NAO, code

How robots will become soon indispensable teaching tools

Posted by Mike Nardine

Sep 4, 2014 8:32:04 PM

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At the risk of exposing my lack of poetic ability, Robots are the new cool,/ and a soon to be/ indispensable teaching tool! Let me explain...

No one questions the commitment of the young to new technology. They take to it like fish to water or birds to the air.  Why then, is there such a lack of interest in computer programing among these young tech user in high school and college? Kids that spend every free moment on the Internet still avoid learning the very disciplines that underlie this technology. The answer, according to Tom Lauwers, member of the CSBOTS project for introducing robot programming at the Robotics institute of Carnegie Mellon University, is simply that “many students find the initial work very boring.”

The people behind CSBOTS at Carnegie Mellon believe that many students find programming computers boring.  Robots, on the other hand, are cool and programming them is fun. Students develop the same skills programming a cool robot as a boring computer. This situation is analogous to an earlier age with the internal-combustion engine and its most popular embodiment, the automobile: everyone drove, but fewer wanted to look under the hood and even fewer troubled themselves with the underlying physics.

The automobile is still around, of course, but the human hand and brawn have been replaced on the assembly line with...you guessed it, Robots! Robots in Israel are saving lives in ruined buildings; robots are under construction that can take the place of men in combat situations and the sky is filled with robotic flying machines, drones. Robots like RobotsLAB’s NAO are even edging into the sports field with the hope of beating a human team at soccer in a generation or two. At the moment NAO isn’t much of a threat to Lionel Messi, but it is ready for prime time in the educational arena.

In fact, NAO in education is the very embodiment of the “cool” educational robot with which Carnegie Mellon hopes to inspire a love of STEM learning and programming in more students entering college. In addition, RobotsLAB’s NAO is coupled with a curriculum that allows students to develop a structured approach to finding solutions while keeping those students interested and engaged in learning skills that will be needed in the future to secure jobs in the STEM field.

And NAO isn’t the only “cool” robot digital teaching assistant here at RobotsLAB that can help teachers keep kids engaged while learning the STEM disciplines. There’s MATHBALL, a robot in the shape of a basketball that was originally designed to help professional basketball players perfect their scoring shots and will now teach kids about parabolas in a way they will never forget.  There’s the RobotsLAB BOX with several robots including AR DRONE to show kids how important math can be in their real lives. There’s BIOLOID to help teachers explain the relevance of STEM and for the younger set there’s CUBELETS for building simple robots that don’t need programing to keep them interested. Take a look at our site for more information--and less poetry.

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10 ways to bring Edtech into your school

Posted by Brendan Barnard

Sep 3, 2014 8:03:00 PM

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There is plenty of educational technology out there waiting for educators and teachers to use in their schools. And RobotsLAB provides some of the best with its engaging BOX, MathBALL, MAKERBOT 3D printers and anthropomorphic robots like NAO, BIOLOID and DARwin OP. But according to many educators, much as they would like to see more edtech, getting their school systems to accept it is not an easy matter.

Lack of money is one of the first problems that teachers say they run into when they try to upgrade classroom technology. They have a point: some technology, like providing every student with a tablet, costs a financially challenged school district many hundreds of thousands of dollars. But providing every student with a new gadget isn’t the only way to get edtech into schools. Believe it or not there is a lot of free stuff out there that can engage an entire class with only a nominal original outlay.

Scratch, the programming language for example, can teach kids about coding using the computers most (I would hope all) school districts already have. With a single low-priced 3-D printer in the classroom (MAKERBOT 3D printer sells for less than two grand) teachers have a tool that will bring kids into contact with the new manufacturing technology considered by many, including President Obama, as the new revolution in technology. With the 3D printer in hand, teachers can turn to such online repositories as Thingiverse for thousands of free, interesting and engaging 3D templates. For more free edtech ideas try Googling the phrase free edtech. If your school district is having trouble coming up with even the nominal costs like a few 3D printers or a RobotsLAB BOX or two, consider government or private grants. You’ll be amazed at the number of grants available for educational technology if you Google the phrase educational technology grants.

Of course lack of funds is not the only impediment to getting new educational technology into schools. Schools, like all institutions, struggle with change. Educator and edtech blogger Dr. Justin Tarte has what he calls 10 tips for starting a technology revolution that might prove useful for those of you out there who are determined to upgrade the level of tech in your schools.

1 - Make sure the administration is on board…

2 - Lay the groundwork and foundation by asking simple questions… (find out what what level your colleagues are in this revolution you hope to start)

3 - Some educators will be advanced...but most will not be - GO SLOW…

4 - Do not drown your fellow educators with too much too soon…

5 - Support and encourage your shining stars…

6 - Use the largest, loudest, and most listened to group in the school - the students…

7 - Get constant feedback from your colleagues…

8 - Offer your time to help others (off the clock)...

9 - Help make technology and social media applicable to their class / content area...

10 - When you get discouraged, don't - the revolution will be long and hard…

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NAO robot is revolutionizing STEM

Posted by Charles Nimrad

Aug 13, 2014 6:01:42 AM

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“Klaatu Barada Nikto,” that’s robot talk for...well, several things, including “don’t destroy the Earth” (I’m paraphrasing here, but that is a line from the 1950 Sci-Fi thriller, The Day the Earth Stood Still).  It seems that GORT, a huge and immensely powerful robot has been brought to Earth to teach mankind a lesson; i.e., “either quit fighting among yourselves or I am going to get rid of you all before you become a danger to other planets.” And only moments before he teaches mankind  that violent lesson, along comes Helen Benson, played by Patricia Neal, who utters the fail-safe phrase that began this paragraph and ends GORT’s rampage.

Fortunately, NAO, today’s premier teaching-robot, responds to English--as well as French, Japanese and most other languages. And while GORT had a bad attitude and stood fifty-plus feet tall, NAO stands less than four feet and is so unthreatening that he is welcomed as a friend and teacher by autistic children. NAO has one other advantage over GORT: there’s a lot more of them; in fact, NAO is by far the most popular robot for educational purposes.

In spite of NAO’s small size, he is of immense value to education. No STEM learning academy is more aware of that than techJOYnt in Oklahoma, City.  In the movie, GORT pretty much stayed in one place while he decided what to do; NAO, part of techJOynt’s mobile STEM lab, teaches mankind all over Oklahoma City, from Rockwell Plaza to satellite campuses at Oklahoma City Community College. He is part of the techJOYnt’s Humanoid Robotics course.  He helps students study Node and Python programming using touch and motion sensors; and as as mentioned earlier NAO also helps autistic students communicate.

One thing both GORT and NAO have in common is their ability to engage students. Kids love robots. Can’t keep their eyes or their hands off them. That’s why we at RobotsLAB are so pleased to partner with techJOYnt in seeking to put even more of them into schools.

GORT’s presence was enough to get an important lesson across to mankind (a lesson, I might add, that recent news indicates we didn’t learn very well).  NAO’s presence is less imposing and the curriculum more varied. According to Ray Shaik, President and CEO of techJOYnT, “By using the NAO robot in class, students connect theory and practice, develop teamwork and communication skills, and gain a higher level of motivation and interest in technical career paths.” We earthlings have every reason to hope that the results will be more lasting.


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Topics: Robotics, STEM, Education, NAO

The best soccer player were playing in brazil last week

Posted by Charles Nimrad

Aug 8, 2014 10:38:00 AM

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NAO, the small but mighty anthropomorphic robot manufactured by the French company Aldebaran, is evolving. Already the planet’s most acclaimed fully programmable, autonomous robot for education and research with over 5000 operating in more than seventy countries; NAO EVOLUTION, the new generation, sports several advancements over its successful predecessor.

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Topics: NAO

Can video games teach math?

Posted by Charles Nimrad

Aug 4, 2014 10:00:00 AM

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Dr. Keith Devlin (the NPR Math Guy and Stanford Mathematician) believes that anyone can become proficient in math if it is taught in a way that makes it relevant to them, and a perfect way to teach math to middle-school kids is with video games. He’s putting his money where his mouth is by starting his own video game company, InnerTube Games. According to InnerTube Games, the company doesn’t just build video games to teach mathematics, instead they build ‘instruments’ which are designed to be played; and playing with these instruments teaches the players mathematics. A bit like learning about music while playing the piano.

Wuzzit Trouble, the first game developed by InnerTube games, came out late last year. Wuzzits are imaginary little beings that look like tailless squirrels with a proclivity for getting trapped in cages in dark castles. It’s up to the player to get them out of these cages with keys found by answering puzzles.  That’s one level of the game. At another level the game is a device for acquainting kids with the mathematical concept of integer partitions. Integer partitions are whole numbers expressed as a sum of other whole numbers. The whole number 4, for example can be expressed in five different ways: 4, 2+2, 3+1, 2+1+1 and 1+1+1+1.

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Topics: 21st Century Classroom

Rural Vermont school embraces edtech

Posted by Mike Nardine

Aug 1, 2014 10:00:00 AM

 

I’ve never thought of Vermont as “poor and rural” inspite of the image I had of it as nothing but forests and maple syrup farms--or whatever they call them ... maple groves, maybe? So I was surprised to read about one school superintendent’s difficulty in upgrading the public schools in his district: Ned Kirsch, superintendent at Franklin West Supervisory Union (FWSU) in the small town of Georgia, Vt., population 4300.

He says that upon his arrival in Georgia, he was pleased with the schools that he found. The problems in the schools were not with the “hard-working teachers, committed administrators, and 2,000 excited students;” instead, those excited students needed a connection to the technological world outside Northern Vermont.

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Topics: EdTech, Education, 21st Century Classroom

Gamification can improve learning speed and retention

Posted by Mike Nardine

Jul 31, 2014 10:00:00 AM

 

This book, Playing to Win: Gamification and Serious Games in Organizational Learning by ASTD Research, claims to be the result of rigorous research into the value of gamification as an aid to learning. Gamification, for those of you for whom the word isn’t instantly definable, is the use of games in a non-game context to engage and encourage users to solve problems. It's a new paradigm in learning made more possible by recent technological advancements.

The book’s author, ASTD Research, is introduced by Wikipedia asThe Association for Talent Development (ATD), formerly American Society for Training & Development (ASTD)... a non-profit association for workplace learning and performance professionals.” It was formed in 1944. On its website ASTD claims the following for its research: “... an empirical foundation for today's data-driven decision-makers, containing both quantitative and qualitative analysis about organizational learning, human capital management, training, and performance.”

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Topics: 21st Century Classroom

california schools embrace blended classrooms

Posted by Mike Nardine

Jul 30, 2014 10:00:00 AM

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Oakland CA schools have a problem trying to teach their academically diverse student body. Kilian Betlach, the principal of Oakland’s Elmhurst Community Prep says that while one third of Elmhurst’s kids are at grade level in reading and math, the remaining two thirds are from one to four years behind. No doubt Principal Betlach’s school shares the same problem with many inner-city, high-poverty middle schools.  

The question of how best to address this problem is complicated by lack of staff and lack of funds -- another common problem with inner-city schools. With too few teachers, how can they keep the slower learners from falling farther behind without denying faster learners the time they deserve and thereby cheating them all of a decent education? Unfortunately the answer to this problem is not to be found in the old factory model of education most of us grew up with.

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Topics: Education Politics, 21st Century Classroom

Summer slide achievement gap vacation

Posted by Charles Nimrad

Jul 29, 2014 10:00:00 AM

 

This shouldn't come as a surprise, but after three months off in the summer most kids return in September at a lower learning level than when they departed: A whole month behind, according to Catherine Augustine a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation who has studied summer learning loss. Apparently a majority of children come back behind in math, whereas fewer are left behind in reading. This step backward is most obvious with children in low income neighborhoods where they might have less access to libraries and books in the home.  

Over the years educators have promoted various changes in the educational system they thought might go a long way toward cutting back this deficit. School year-round was one idea; a marginally longer school year was another. The year-round idea apparently wasn’t anywhere near as effective as its proponents had hoped: studies still showed a deficit of one month or so at the beginning of the next year. It didn’t make much sense fiscally, and it surely ruined a lot of family summer vacations. Extending the school year made better financial sense but didn’t work all that well in some countries that had tried it, and Canadian schools showed better than the U.S. on the tests while only holding the kids in for three more days during the year.

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Topics: Education, 21st Century Classroom

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