Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Avoid the mines!!!

We had a great turn out at the club today, all 20 members were present.  We started with a brief conversation about how you cannot just talk to the robot and instruct it to do things.  Instead someone had to invent a new way of communicating with the robots (computers) and this is how programming languages came to exist.  So, to drive this point home, the we had the kids do an activity similar to “Mine Hunt”, except that it is more like “Avoid the Mines”.   We asked them to divide into 4 groups, and each group had to designate 1 member to be “the robot”.  Then, we asked the teams to invent a way to control “the robot” so that it would navigate through a mine field and avoid stepping on any mines (pieces of paper on the floor).  The catch is, they cannot use any kind of verbal communication.  All of the teams did great, an all of them were able to make it through the mine field safe and sound.  Most of the teams used some form of clapping communication scheme, and one of them actually used a whistle command to have their robot skip over a mine!  You may want to ask your child what kind of communication method did they use.

Then, on the second part of the meeting we introduced the actual programming environment.  Everyone broke up into pairs again, powered up a laptop and we showed them how to start the programming software.  Each group was given a brick, a motor and some wires, and they learned how to download a program into the robot and control the motor.  This was a great stopping point for this week.  Next week we are actually going to build the base robot that we’ll use for the rest of the year.

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