Oct 4 Robot Coach’s Blog

This week: We will plan on meeting on Tuesday from 3:00 to 4:15 or so.

Friday: There are no BUA classes on Friday Oct 9th because of a faculty in-service day.  We will try to have the lab opened earlier for those wanting to work on the VEX robots.

We have continued to do some active VEX Work in the lab.  The juniors and seniors got together on Friday afternoon to discuss options for an FRC Fall Project with Dr. Joe.

If all students could fill out this poll on your interest and when you are available!

http://goo.gl/forms/FIpolMtZjU

We will be using it to help gauge what kinds of robotics activities you are interested in!

Helping Robot Researchers: On Thursday, Michael and Owen shared their expertise with the Beaglebone with some of the robotics researchers across the hall from our lab.  They are developing hydrophone data for swarm robotics.

GE Demo: On Thurdsay we performed a demo of Scorpion in EPIC for several visitors from GE.  From left to right:  Emily Stern, Jordan F.,  Jose Calderon  GE Aviation Project Manager, Cindy Hendrickson, University Relations GE, Colleen Athans VP Of Supply Chain GE Aviation Corporate, Owen G.

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Open House on Sunday: On Sunday during the BUA open house we had two hours of demonstrations of Scorpion in the gym!

Veteran’s Day is coming along with our November Robotics Tournament.  We need volunteers for this event.  Either Leah Magid or I may be reaching out to many of you in the coming weeks to solicit your help!

Material Donations needed: The lab needs several items.  If you would like to donate one of these items to the team, it would be appreciated.

  • Laptop: For programming
  • Desktop: For CAD
  • Rolling Toolchest: The one we have is falling apart.
  • Small filing cabinet with a working lock.

 

Sept 27 Robot Coach’s Blog

I am looking for about a dozen adult volunteers for our Veteran’s Day robotics tournament. At the event, we will be hosting both a VEX Scrimmage and a FIRST LEGO League Scrimmage.  We need adults to serve as refs, judges, queuing, concessions, and crowd control.  Keep in mind, if you also plan to help out at the Dec 5 LEGO League Tournament or Jan 10 VEX Tournament, this is a good way to get some practice.

Here is a nice photo of our BUA students preparing for the FLL Scrimmage.  They are building the LEGO playing fields right before Back To School Night on Sept 15th.

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For our FIRST FRC Season:  Mark your calendar: We are registered for the Boston University District Event on April 1-3.  The event starts at 5PM on Friday April 1st and runs through Sunday evening.

Lab time this coming week:  We will be open on Tuesday and Friday this coming week.

The Lab:  I spent some time this week cleaning up the office end of our lab. I want to reiterate our food policy.  I found two bags of fresh food – from six months ago.  It was unworthy of a chemistry experiment.  The nice table that faces the rocket lab windows will now be reserved for VISTA and official FIRST use only.  Please keep your items off of it.  I am doing an annual house cleaning of the lab.  In the process donating our excess inventory to local rookie teams.

VEX: The students are doing great work in the lab.  Notice how clean the lab is. If they are ready, we will compete in Manchester, NH on Halloween, Oct 31.

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Material Donations needed: The lab needs several items.  If you would like to donate one of these items to the team, it would be appreciated.

  • Laptop: For programming
  • Desktop: For CAD
  • Rolling Toolchest: The one we have is falling apart.
  • Small filing cabinet with a working lock.

Sept 16 Physics Teacher’s Blog

We have finished the first couple weeks of physics class at BUA. During the first two weeks we studied statics, inertia, and weight.  Towards the end the students struggled through an introduction to vectors and trigonometry.  We will revisit vectors when we get to dynamics in two weeks.  You can view a lot of cool demos from our opening weeks on my Facebook page.

Cinderblock demo

Tablecloth demo

We had a lot of fun with inertia in the opening days.  Over the next two weeks we will be exploring kinematics, velocity and acceleration.  That will develop into an exploration of the physics of the fable of Galileo dropping objects of different mass from the top of the Tower of Pisa.

During these opening weeks the students are learning a lot of skills related work for the year.  How to take notes, how to learn at home and optimize their work in the classroom.  In class we are using a cloud based software called Visual Classroom.  Visual Classroom is a collaboration tool which allows students to work together, share knowledge, and engage in joint-sense making.  We begin with a virtual conversation and then develop a verbal conversation.

Competition is good, but I am trying to get students to compete not against each other but with each other.   Each class, or House, is competing against the others to outdo each other.  Last year, Slytherin won the Physics House Cup.

The students are learning to use a variety of equipment in their experimentation.  I try to avoid canned labs where every group uses the exact same equipment and has the same procedure.  Using Visual Classroom, students can compare their procedure to that of other groups.  By collaborating with their classmates as a whole they are developing a boarder experimental understanding.  Although it slows things down, I like this better than just telling them the best way to do an experiment with known results.  Today we started with simple experiments to measure the velocity of a LEGO robot, and will soon move into more complicated kinematic examples.

One way of understanding my laboratory philosophy is to watch this video which just came out from DEILAB.  I had the honor of helping to teach this workshop over the summer over at Cathedral High School.

To quote Aron Lee “Success is a collaborative art.  Remember this day, remember what you did, remember how you felt, know what your power is, don’t let anyone else dictate your possibilities.  Failure is good if you learn from it and fail forward.”

Robot Coach’s Blog Sept 12

FRC back to BU! I am very excited for the upcoming season.   This year, FIRST Robotics is returning to the BU campus.  There will be an FRC district event at BU April 2-3.

Tuesday afternoon cleanup (Sept 15): the upperclassmen will be finishing to prepare the lab for the upcoming season.  We have a lot of excess inventory in our lab.  We will be packing several totes of materials to donate to a local rookie team.

Wednesday Robotics Begins (Sept 16): we will have an introduction to BUA robotics for students new to the team right after school in the physics classroom.  After the introduction, we will have a LEGO building party for all team members in the physics classroom.  We have six FIRST LEGO League kits we need to build. We will build LEGO models until the BUA Back To School Night starts.

Friday VEX Work (Sept 18): at 3PM we will leave the physics room to walk down the street to the robotics lab.  We will have a hands-on introduction to the VEX robotics program. While we have the underclassmen start to work on the VEX robots, we will be preparing to recruit new mentors.

Friday ENG Activity Fair (Sept 18): At 4PM on Friday we will have a table at the EK100 Engineering Activity fair.  This will be in the atrium of the Photonics Center.  At this event we will be recruiting new engineering undergraduate mentors.

Save the date:

Monday, October 19th: there are no BUA classes because of a faculty grading day.  We will have the lab open that day for robot work.  We will also have some extended training sessions on that day such as CAD training and safety training.

Wednesday Nov 11 Veteran’s Day: We will be hosting a VEX and FLL scrimmage in the gym.  We will need significant student and parent help in running this event.

Saturday Dec 5 FLL Tournament: We will be hosting a full FLL tournament in the gym.  We will need significant student and parent help in running this event.

Robot Coach’s Blog Sept 3

It has been an exciting week as we welcome the new freshmen to campus.  Of course, several of them have already been working in the lab on VEX robots over the summer.

Most likely, the regular lab meeting times this semester for robotics will be Tuesday and Friday afternoons (from 3PM to 5PM) and on Saturday afternoons (from 12 to 3).  This will depend on mentor coverage.  We will not start up regularly until the BUA Activities Fair on Thursday, Sept 10th.  At that event we will do a full demo of Scorpion!

I wanted to announce an opportunity out at WPI Tuesday evening (which is a school night).  This invitation comes from Ken Stafford, the lead Coach for the WPI Robotics program.  If there is interest (and you are ahead on your homework) I will try to coordinate some carpooling to this event.

Don’t know if you watched it or not, but ABC ran a 5 episode series of BattleBots this summer.  If you had you’d know that “Bite Force” won the world championship.  “Bite Force” was built/driven by Paul Ventimiglia (WPI, ’12) and WPI was it’s major sponsor.  Paul was also part of FRC190 (having a substantial influence in our 2007 world championship season) and is now a mentor on FRC254. We currently have Bite Force on display on the WPI campus and Paul will be coming next Tues to do a presentation on this robot.  We expect about 300-400 folks for this presentation/reception and would welcome local FRC  teams to attend this event.

You are invited to attend a dessert reception for Paul Ventimiglia (WPI, ’12; former mentor FRC190, current mentor FRC254), designer/builder/driver of ”BITE FORCE”, the 2015 World Champion BattleBot. This event will be held in the Campus Center of WPI on Tues, 8 Sep from 2000-2130.  The 250-pound BITE FORCE, replete with its battle scars from defeating the number 1 seeded TOMBSTONE in the finals round, will be demonstrated (safely!) and be ready for selfie poses. Paul will discuss his design and strategy for winning this competition and include a bunch of great videos.  Following his presentation, there will be a Q and A session where he will be joined by new WPI student Will Bales, builder/driver of the famous HYPERSHOCK battlebot as well as one of stars of the movie “BOTS HIGH.”

In the News:

New Crew to ISS with LEGOS: (Reauters) A new group of astronauts is off to the International Space Station and they are bringing LEGOs with them!

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.