Summer is over and Robot Coach’s blog Aug 29 (No VEX this Sunday)

It has been a great summer.

We had a great head-start on introducing the younger students to robotics using VEX Robotics Competition.  Will not meet this Sunday.  Many thanks to our seniors who led this effort.

It has been an exciting couple of week with great demos at Boston Scientific and the Children’s Museum.  Check out our Facebook page for the pictures.

I am very exciting for the coming year.  We really have a Dream Team of Seniors.  Our Co-Captains leading the team this year, Evelyn H. and Oliver J. are inspirational and have done a great job of leading the younger students on our team this summer.  We have a super-powered team of Vice-Captains, Jordan, Owen, Michael, Janina, and Lenny.  The last time we had a super-powered group of seniors like this leading the team was in 2011-2012 when we won both the Boston Regional Chairman’s Award and we were the Boston Regional Tournament Champions.  I had lunch with the co-captain of that team from 2012 last week, Will P.  We were reflecting on what it takes, and I am excited to have such a good group of seniors to lead the team!

We will not be meeting with the underclassmen this week.  I am hoping to have the juniors and seniors around to help prep the lab for the season.  We need to move the robots to BUA for demos, and prepare several bins of materials to donate to other teams.

We have not decided on which days to meet yet, but I am leaning towards Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

We will have a few demos in September.  On Sept 10th is the BUA Activity Fair.  There is also the BU Engineering activity fair.

The Engineering Block party is after-school on Tuesday on the Cummington Mall.  I don’t think we will do a demonstration, but we should be prepped to bring Scorpion upstairs if we are asked.

Save the dates. Our Fall Tournaments we are hosting in the BUA Gym.

  • Veteran’s Day Nov 11th Wednesday: VEX Scrimmage.
  • Saturday Dec 5th: FLL Tournament
  • Sunday Jan 10th: VEX Tournament:

In the News:

Drone Killing Laser Cannon (Wired): Boeing is developing a laser cannon to blast drones out of the sky.  Just like Star Wars!  Except no sound affects.  The coolest thing, is that is is controlled by an XBOX 360 controller.  Read the article!

Astronauts to control robots from space: (Talk Radio News): So NASA astronauts on the ISS are being trained to control a Earth based robot using haptic feedback.

Girls prefer computer science classes that are non-geeky (Fortune): I am curious now if the statistics from this national trend would apply to BUA.  According to Fortune, girls prefer to study computer science in an environment that is not overly nerdy.

See you in school this week!

Aug 20 Coaches Blog

This Sunday we are scheduled to have a demonstration at the Boston Children’s Museum.  We need transportation to get the robot to the museum.  If we cannot get the robot there, then no demo.  :(

This past Tuesday we had a great demonstration at Boston Scientific.  You can see several photos on our Facebook page, so please check them out!  Great job Evelyn, Oliver, Michael, Owen, Nimish, Nikhil, Divya. Many thanks to Paul, Joe, Alex, and Abby for mentoring!

This Sunday we will not have VEX building since we will be doing the demo at the Museum.

This Friday and Saturday is the Boston Greenfest at Cityhall plaza.  Check out the FIRST booth if you are downtown.

 

 

Boston Children’s Museum: We have a good group signed up for our demo at the Tinker Tent in front of the museum on Sunday Aug 23rd.  This will be a full day event with unloading at the museum around 9AM. We will want to load up the robot at the lab at 8AM.

Again, please let me know if you can help us drive the robot and tools for this event.  If parents want to help out at this event, there will be free admission to the Children’s Museum (so bring the younger sibling).

Mentors: Paul T.

Students: Evelyn H., Lenny P., Shidong, Jacob N., Michael S., Neil M., Nikhil, and Divya.  

Invitation for 246 at the Beach from the Faas-Bush family:
Team members and families are invited for the day or overnight to join us at Westport, MA on Saturday August 29th.  We plan to meet up at our Westport house around noon and then head to the beach for lunch – There is a simple beach shack for burgers and hotdogs along with some alternatives like hummus and tabouli.  Later that afternoon, those who want to stay longer are welcome for dinner and overnight.  The house has a number of beds and if a lot of people are interested we can put up tents.
For kids whose parents can not make the trip, we will have a minivan up in Boston that morning and can pick up kids at BUA at 10:30 Saturday morning – we can’t make a return trip, but there is a bus to South Station on Sunday morning or we could try to arrange carpooling with families that will be returning on Saturday afternoon/evening.

Aug 13 Robot Coaches Blog

Boston Scientific Demo - Help Needed: Tuesday August 18. We can use some help moving the robot and students for the Boston Scientific Demo.  Please let me know if you can help out.  And it is not too late to sign up for the event.  We want to unload at the event around 8AM which is at 100 Boston Scientific Way in Marlborough.  We will have a tour of their R&D facility in the late morning.  Parents are welcome to attend and help us out.  The day wraps up around 2:30.

At this moment, on the attendance list:

Mentors: Joseph Von Schoppe, Alex Barden, Paul Terrasi

Students: Jacob N., Divya B., Michael S., Oliver J., Evelyn H.

Boston Children’s Museum: We have a good group signed up for our demo at the Tinker Tent in front of the museum on Sunday Aug 23rd.  This will be a full day event with unloading at the museum around 9AM. Again, please let me know if you can help us drive the robot and tools for this event.  If parents want to help out at this event, there will be free admission to the Children’s Museum (so bring the younger sibling).

Mentors: Paul T.

Students: Evelyn H., Lenny P., Shidong, Jacob N., Michael S., Neil M.,

VEX: We will continue to have VEX work this Sunday at 2PM and next Wednesday at 5PM.  Because of the demo at the Boston Children’s Museum on August 23rd, we will not have any VEX building that day.

Invitation for 246 at the Beach from the Faas-Bush family:
Team members and families are invited for the day or overnight to join us at Westport, MA on Saturday August 29th.  We plan to meet up at our Westport house around noon and then head to the beach for lunch – There is a simple beach shack for burgers and hotdogs along with some alternatives like hummus and tabouli.  Later that afternoon, those who want to stay longer are welcome for dinner and overnight.  The house has a number of beds and if a lot of people are interested we can put up tents.
For kids whose parents can not make the trip, we will have a minivan up in Boston that morning and can pick up kids at BUA at 10:30 Saturday morning – we can’t make a return trip, but there is a bus to South Station on Sunday morning or we could try to arrange carpooling with families that will be returning on Saturday afternoon/evening.

In the News:

Last week, I took Alejandro and Leonardo to see Antman in the theater. As a longtime comic book fan, I did enjoy this movie.  I enjoyed reading BU Professor James Traniello’s discussion of the movie.

Astronauts grow food in space: (AP)  So they now have salad up on the international space station!

NASA opens new round of CubeSAT:(Space.com).  This is interesting for the local connection because BU has been entering the CubeSAT competition for several years.

First Legal Drone Flight (Bloomberg): Today the first flight of a legal drone will be made over New York City.  The FAA is finally issuing permits to fly commercial drones.  The rules are strict.  Under 200 feet, farther than 500 feet from buildings, 5 miles from airports.

August 6 Robot Coaches Blog

Check out the Tech Savvy Photos on our Facebook page!  Many thanks to Coach Emily for organizing all the students who participated in this (Evelyn, Courtney, Divya, and Neal) event where we taught robotics to the girls in Tech Savvy.

On Friday Aug 7th the team went to the GE Lynn Aviation division.  We had lunch with the engineers and toured the factory floor where they make the engines that go into the F18-Hornet!

 

 

The VEX work continues to go well on Wednesdays at 5 and Sundays at 2.

No CAD workshop this Monday night.

We have three days of demos coming up! Boston Scientific on Aug 18th, Boston Greenfest on Aug 22, and Boston Children’s Museum on Aug 23rd.  We are committed to Boston Scientific and Children’s Museum.  I wanted to hear from folks on availability before we commit to the Greenfest. We could use some more mentors and students for the Boston Scientific event (which I know is on a Tuesday).  Boston Scientific address is 100 Boston Scientific Way in Marlborough.

We should arrive at around 8:15AM if at all possible or earlier. The true activities begin at 9:15 so you would have an hour to get settled, debug, etc. We plan on ending at 2:30PM.

Save the date: We might be having a year opening BBQ on the beach on August 29th.  Details coming soon!

First day of classes is Sept 1!  BUA Activity fair is Sept 10.

Fall Tournaments we are hosting:

  • VEX Scrimmage: Veteran’s Day Wednesday Nov 11
  • FLL Qualifier:  Saturday Dec 5
  • VEX Qualifier: Sunday Jan 10

To quote R. Craig Robinson’s daily blog from the Copernicus Observatory:

“This week is the week of the Perseid  Meteor Shower.  Best time to see them is after midnight on any day next week.  August 11th through the 14th will be best, with the predicted peak night being the early morning hours of the 13th , which is next Thursday Morning between midnight and dawn.  The best way to observe them is to get to the darkest area you can and then go outside after midnight and let your eyes get used to the dark.  (That can take about 20 minutes depending on how young you are.) Once your eyes are used to the dark you will be able to see more of these meteors.  I suggest that you watch the same area of sky for a while so you can spot the movement of the meteor easier.  Then when you get board of that section of sky look over at another one for a while.  Do not keep your eyes roving about the sky to see them because then you will miss seeing the dimmer ones, and even many of the brighter ones because your eyes won’t pick up the moving meteors against the sky as easily if you are moving your eyes from one spot to another all the time.”

Happy Birthday to Curiosity: (CBS News) Curiosity celebrates three years on Mars! The evidence is leaning that Mars was once a wet place that could have supported life.

July 30 Coaches Blog

This coming week:

CAD: Sam will be running another CAD workshop Monday evening at 7PM at the CAD lab. Please sign up both so we know who’s been showing up and so we know there will be a class.  http://doodle.com/udxhwddzpap445w9

VEX: The underclassmen continue to do some great protoyping with the Nothing but Net game.  I like this shooter! We continue to meet Sundays at 2 and Wednesdays at 5!

vex gears

Artemis Demo: Many thanks to Jordan, Michael, and Paul for showing Scorpion to the girls in the Artemis camp which is a computer science camp for girls from around Boston.  Each year we lend Artemis some of our LEGO Robotics kits.

Artemis DemoLowRes

We have several demos for Scorpion coming up within the third week of August.  We need a lot of help with the Boston Scientific Demo!

Boston Scientific Demo Logistics: We need several more students to respond to the Calendar for the demo.  I will resend an invite about this.  We also need someone to volunteer to drive the robot.   Parent help will be appreciated in this event.

The event is Tuesday, August 18th. Boston Scientific address is 100 Boston Scientific Way in Marlborough. The majority of activities will be in bldg. 100.  Boston Scientific has a tent and power for us.  They will provide snacks and lunch so no need bring anything with you unless you want to. They will provide a lab tour of our R&D facilities!

We should arrive at around 8:15AM if at all possible or earlier. The true activities begin at 9:15 so you would have an hour to get settled, debug, etc. We plan on ending at 2:30PM.

Boston Green Fest: Friday August 21st or Saturday August 22nd Scorpion demo: We have done this several times.  This might also be a good opportunity to clear out our remaining inventory of FIRST LED Light Bulbs.

Boston Children’s Museum TinkerTent on Sunday August 23rd.  It promises to be a whole lot of fun, with thousands of families filtering through and seeing our great work.  This year we will be joined by the MIT Media Lab, Einstein’s Workshop, The Design Museum, The Revolving Museum, Boston Center for the Arts, The Eliot School and more organizations.

Battlebots: I was excited to watch the final episode of Battlebots!  Bite Force winning was quite the upset over Tombstone!

In the News:

Amazon Envisions Drone Airspace (San Jose Mercury News): Interesting article on how Google, Amazon, and NASA are working together to prevent a mass swarming of drones in the air and make it an organized collective of drones flying in harmony. The effort is not in making the drones, but in a method of Aircraft (or drone) Control to keep things organized.

Coding Schools attract career changers: (NY Times):  In the NY Times article it talks about people who are going back to school to learn to code and then quadrupling their salaries.  So maybe we should be requiring computer science in high schools.  Of course, you can’t learn comp sci in a bubble.  Knowing a field to go along with it makes you more attractive to employers.

White House Summit: (Inside Higher Ed): On this note Obama is holding a meeting today to explore the options of these coding schools.

Hope for the liberal arts? (Forbes): On the other hand this article in Forbes makes the case for the liberal arts degree.  All these tech companies need people to work in sales and marketing.  More importantly, they need people in what is called Human Factors.  How do you make your ingenious product actually usable.

Star Wars weapons: (Reuters): Cool article about how the US Military is developing laser and microwave weapons.  Things have come a long way since Reagan envisioned his Star Wars project.

July 23 Robot Coaches Blog

In BUTODAY there is a nice new article about the new College of Engineering specialization in Robotics.  BU does a lot of work with drones and quadcopters.

CAD Workshop:  This coming Monday at 7PM at 15 Saint Mary’s Street.  Please sign up in advance on the doodle: http://doodle.com/7c6qu29rt45mh34c

Tech Savvy Success: We gave a nice workshop last week to the girls from Tech Savvy.  Photos on the way. 

VEX Work: I was very pleased to see the great condition of the lab!  This is the kind of cleaned up lab which makes me happy!  Things are looking better and I will now order some toys.  Let us try and keep up with the engineering notebook and use the forum to document our work!  Many thanks to Nell, Evelyn, Courtney and whoever else helped to clean up the lab!

Comms issues on Scorpion:  After our last demo we realized we had some serious comms issues.  Many thanks to Dave, Paul, and Michael for getting Scorpion ready for our upcoming demonstrations.  It is on the list to get a new laptop for running the FRC robot.

Artemis demonstration:We have a Scorpion demo for the Artemis camp on Tuesday July 28 at 2PM.  Meet up at the lab.

Tour of the GE Aviation: The GE Aviation tour will be Friday August 7th.  Please, fill out this doodle  if you want to attend. Again, only US citizens (including green card holders) are able to attend. At this plant, we design/assemble/test F404 engine, F414 engine, T700 engine (Apache and Blackhawk), new presidential helicopter, and many more!  Sign up ASAP!  This will be a fun group field trip. Alums are welcome too.

Schedule:
10 am Security Badges
10:30-12 Presentations
12-1 Lunch
1-2:30 tours

Boston Scientific Demo: We will have a tent we are sharing with FRC 4905 (Andromeda 1) and some FLL teams.  August 18th from 8AM to 2PM.  Boston Scientific has been a great sponsor for us and we really want to give back to them!  You should have received a G-calendar invite to this event.  We need to get names soon for badging purposes.

Boston Green Fest: Friday August 21st or Saturday August 22nd Scorpion demo: We have done this several times.  This might also be a good opportunity to clear out our remaining inventory of FIRST LED Light Bulbs.

Boston Children’s Museum TinkerTent on Sunday August 23rd.  It promises to be a whole lot of fun, with thousands of families filtering through and seeing our great work.  This year we will be joined by the MIT Media Lab, Einstein’s Workshop, The Design Museum, The Revolving Museum, Boston Center for the Arts, The Eliot School and more organizations.

BU FIRST Calender: Now that BUA students have official BU google email accounts I will be using g-calender to schedule our meetings and demos.  Please respond to your invites.

July 18th Robotics Coach’s Blog

U Design: We just finished a great two weeks helping out with College of Engineering U-Design Camp.  Divya, Neil, Nimish, Max, Buzy, and Simon were a great help as assistant teachers!   Many thanks to Jordan and Lenny for giving a great tour and a demo with our Scorpion.   Our new head of school, Ari Betof stopped by on the last day to say hello.

photo

MassPep: The MassPep program this summer has been going well, teaching LEGO Robotics at Roxbury Community College.  If any of our younger students would like to help with this let me know.

VEX: We will keep meeting on Sundays and Wednesdays to do work on our VEX robots.  The new VEX playing field materials are ready to order as soon as we have finished cleaning and organizing the lab. Also a reminder for our entering freshmen, that until you have received safety training you are not allowed to use the power tools.

CAD: We are continuing to learn Computer Aided Design on Monday evenings thanks to the mentorship of Sam Duffley.

Tech Savvy: On Monday morning, July 20 we are doing a LEGO NXT robotics workshop for the Tech Savvy Camp.  We will be building the NXT Tassiebots on Sunday.  We will be meeting in Photonics 113 with the campers and can use some more help.

We have been asked to do a demo for a north shore science camp on Tuesday July 21.  If we can get the comms back online for Scorpion it would be great to do this.

Demo for Artemis Camp: We have a Scorpion demo for the Artemis camp on Tuesday July 28 in the afternoon.

Boston Scientific Demo: Tues Aug 18th: We have a full day demo scheduled our at Boston Scientific on August 18th and I am collecting volunteers for this event.

Boston Greenfest is coming Fri Aug 21 and Sat Aug 22 and we have a demo opportunity there.

The Tinkerfaire is at the Boston Children’s Museum on Sunday Aug 23 and again we have been asked to demo Scorpion from 11 AM to 4 pm.

U-Design Flight School Monday

We had a great first day in U-Design’s Flight School.

We began the day by having every student making a paper airplanes.  Although this might sound simple, the challenge is to see whose plane can stay aloft the longest time or the longest distance.  The hope being that by the end of the week, as the students’ understanding of aeronautics develops, so will the performance of their planes.

We then build White Wing Racer.  This are high end paper airplanes with a balsa wood core.  They are designed by a professional engineer and when launched with a rubber band can stay aloft for over a minute.  You can by a White Wing for about $5.

Next we build Guillow Sky Streak.  Guillow is actually a local company.  They are well known for selling promotional foam glider airplanes in addition to the rubber band balsa wood airplanes.  Although the planes we build today are a simple 5 step kit, we will modify them as the week goes on and design our own planes.

We next began working on the Guillow Cadet Planes.  This is a very complex plane which will take easily three days to build.  Following the directions is critically important.  Many students gloss over the directions, and will make mistakes (but we learn from our mistakes).

Morning Lab Tour to visit Professor Jason Ritt from biomedical engineering.  Professor Ritt is investigating sensory perception.  My own son, Alejandro is taking U Design this summer.  Alejandro wanted to know if they could develop tools to create Daredevil, which by coincidence I just started watching on Netflix.

We had a few brief lectures today on the physics of Flight and basic Aerodynamics.

We had a special guess lecture today from Jeff Ventola who is the developed of the Wicked Wing Flying Thing.   He is a local inventor who invented a new type of frisbee that can easily be thrown over a football field in length.  I read about Jeff in the local newspaper.  You can buy his flying disc online.

On the other half of U-Design, Alejandro really enjoyed himself in Robo Alley, and was excited to start learning to program in C.

 

Jan 8 Robotics Blog

I have had LEGO Mindstorms on my mind a lot. I spent a couple hours on my front porch this evening talking to Lester, the coach for We Are Robo, the #3 FLL team in the USA and the #10 team in the world! You really should watch this video of the We Are Robo FLL Robot.

This week we started teaching in the two summer camps the team works with. Nell W. and Abby C. are teaching LEGO NXT Mindstorms Robotics for the Mass Preengineering Program at Roxbury Community College. Several BUA students are helping to teach NXT Robotics and Electronics for the BU College of Engineering in the U-Design Summer Workshop. Both of these programs will continue next week and I will be teaching the Flight School workshop.

VEX: We will continue to meet Wednesdays at 5PM and Sundays at 2PM building VEX robots at the lab.

Tech Savvy Workshop July 20th 9am – 12:30 pm. Teach Programming skills to middle school aged girls using Lego Mindstorms NXTs. Doodle (Only fill out the July 20th spot)

Tour of the GE Aviation: We are rescheduling the GE Aviation tour! Please, fill out this doodle so that we know what date works best for everyone. Again, only US citizen (including green card holders) are able to attend. At this plant, we design/assemble/test F404 engine, F414 engine, T700 engine (Apache and Blackhawk), new presidential helicopter, and many more!

Schedule:
10 am Security Badges
10:30-12 Presentations
12-1 Lunch
1-2:30 tours
Boston Scientific Demo: August 18th from 8 am – 2 pm we have a demo at bring your kids to work day at Boston Scientific. I most likely cannot attend and we need to send out a doodle to make sure we will have enough kids there. Here is a Doodle created for the Boston Scientific demo if you want to include it in the announcements. http://doodle.com/mxw23ygceh7barn7

 

In the News:

Lovebirds’ flight skills could inspire Navy drone developers: You have to love the title of that article from the San Franscisco Chronicle. At BU we have been studying the physics of several animals in order to make better airborne robots. It seems that Lovebirds are able to turn their heads in flight faster than anything alive!

New Pictures of Pluto: The New York Times Summer of Science has a great article on Pluto and all the new pictures that Horizon is taking. The same article also has a nice snippit on the Solar Powered Plane. Which that plane just landed in Hawaii according to the AP.

Curiosity’s Wheel Damage: There is a nice article on Space.com about the wheel damage on my favorite Martian robot.

Robotics Taxi Cabs: The Washington Post reports that robot taxi cabs could reduce vehicle emissions. The Post article seemed to imply that people would not want to ride these slower but environmentally conscious cars. But the Christian Science Monitor says they will cost less. Hey, if it can beat Uber, then maybe it is worth it!

July 3 Robotics Update

Coach’s Blog, July 3

A big welcome to our new VISTA Americorp member, Abigail Cohen!

Many thanks to everyone who helped to move our materials back to the lab from EPIC.  We now need to organize the lab so it is usable and presentable for upcoming tours.

VEX Update: We had rising sophomores Neil, Nimish, Nikhil, and Divya working on prototypes for the VEX game Nothing But Net. Welcome new 9th grade students, Caleb and Shidong, and I hope we get a few more incoming BUA students this summer!  We now have a GoogleGroup forum setup for them to communicate, so if you want to see what is going on, I will send you a link.  The forum will be a test for a general team-wide robotics forum.  We will not meet to do VEX on Sunday as it is a holiday weekend.  We will pick up regularly on Wednesday at 5 and Sundays at 2 on July 8th.

Displaying IMG_2086.JPGShidongLowRes Caleb and NimishLowRes

Solidworks training: This will pick up Monday evening, July 6th at 7PM.

U-Design: This outreach camp run by the BU College of Engineering starts Monday July 6th at 8AM at 110 Cummington St. The camp runs for two weeks and is held in the BU Photonics Center.  Several BUA students are assistant teachers.  There are programs in robotics, aeronautics, and electronics.

MassPep:  This also starts on Monday July 6th and is held at Roxbury Community College.  We will be teaching robotics using our LEGO NXT kits.

Entrepreneurship: We are working on a season video and the annual review.  If you want to be involved in the marketing end of our program over the summer let me know.

Battlebots: I enjoyed watched the most recent episode of Battlebots Sunday night.  I noticed that there are two local teams.  Hypershock and Overdrive are both from the Boston area.  Maybe we can take a fieldtrip to go visit them! And both teams made it past the preliminary round so we will see them next Sunday in Episode 3!

Demos and Workshops:  On Monday morning, July 20th we will do a workshop for the TechSavvy camp at 10AM.  On July 15th we will be doing a Scorpion demo and lab tour for the U-Design camp. On Tuesday July 28th we will do a Scorpion demo and lab tour with our FRC bot for the Artemis  camp.

On a personal note I have been playing with EV3 robots every night with Leonardo.  He attended the Robot workshop at the Tufts CEEO this past week and now loves to write computer programs!

Leo at CEEOLowRes

In the news:

Nanobots to clear arteries:  On the Discovery Channel you can read about these “corkscrew nanobots to drill through blocked arteries.”  They steer the nanobots with magnetic fields.

New England Patriots are Flying Robotic Drones: You can read in the NY Daily News how the FAA is nervous that the Giants and the Patriots are using drones in their practice camps. You can read about this in Bloomberg news too. They are using it to film practices.

Drone interferes with firefighting: In case you are wondering why the FAA is concerned about drones, read in the LA Times how a drone grounded several firefighting helicopters.  The problem is they do not want to crash into the drones.

Agriculture drone bots: You can read in the Washington Times how Measure is using drones to try to make farming more efficient.

Audi building lunar robot: Audi has gotten into the  Google Lunar XPrize competition as reported in the Daily Mail.  Their robot/rover will use Audi’s Quattro all wheel drive system.

Tick Tock

Gary Garber