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WI N TE R 2010

participants learn much about robotics and programming using Lego robots. Fourteen students meet five times a week to design, build and operate robots and so far this year, all 14 students have successfully built several robots. They include the humanoid, the scorpion, the pitcher and batter, the robotic arm, and others. It is incredible to watch the student as they rapidly build these complicated pieces of machinery. This year the Upper School Science Department has introduced two new elective courses in robotics. For freshmen and sophomores we have Introductory Robotics. This course employs VEX Robotics design system, the VEX Robotics curriculum, Easy C programming language, and Autodesk Inventor - a CAD design program. In the course the students move through a 17 part curriculum in which they design, build, program and operate various robots. At each stage of the program, the students learn new physics concepts, new engineering concepts and new robot skills. This semester there are 14 students enrolled in the introductory course. Each of these students has built six different robots this semester. The students are presently working on robots of their own design. In the process they are learning much about mechanics, electricity and computer programming and their enthusiasm is contagious. I believe that this class has been the most fun I have had in 35 years of teaching. The Advanced Robotics course will be offered to juniors and seniors starting next semester. This course will employ the same VEX materials and curriculum used by the introductory course. However, much more emphasis will be place on using the Autodesk Inventor program to design robots and on using Easy C to program the robots to operate in autonomous mode. This will require the student to plan

what he or she wants the robot to do, write a program for this action, and download the program into the robot’s memory. Students in the advanced class will also learn to use various sensors to guide the robot through various challenges. Each year the First Lego League (FLL) sponsors regional and national competitions, in which Middle School students play games that are based on some practical uses of robots. One year the game featured ways robots could be used to aid people with handicaps. For Upper School students, VEX sponsors similar competitions using the VEX robots which are more complex than the Lego robots. VEX robots are much less expensive than FIRST robots, so many more students can be directly involved in the competitions. A Severn student can certainly contribute to the way in which robots impact our world! From left to right, Jason Utz ‘13, Emmett Nelson ’13, Connor Sheehan ‘13 and Teddy Porter ‘12 in the background

Photo left, Janai Hollinger ’13, Travis Cherry ’13, Coleman DeLude ’12 with their Robotic Tank. Photo right, Austin Wang ’13


winter bridge 2010  
winter bridge 2010