Robotics Academy Blog  

Archive for June, 2010

New Cortex online class! Fall 2010 Teacher Training Schedule released!

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Greetings Educators!

The Robotics Academy has set some Online Teacher Training Dates for the Fall. The classes include the NXT-G Professional Development, ROBOTC for LEGO/TETRIX, and our brand new class: The ROBOTC for Cortex online class.

Here are the schedules for the Fall Online Teacher Training:

  1. NXT-G Professional Development
  3. ROBOTC for Cortex – NEW!

Click here to take a look at all of the classes we have to offer!

Written by Vu Nguyen

June 28th, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Posted in General News

Monster Chess supersizes your typical Chess game

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Monster Chess [Source credit Team Hassenplug]

Monster Chess (Source credit: Team Hassenplug)

I hate playing chess. I don’t hate the game; in fact it’s pure strategy, something I love. But despite years of practice, I still almost never win. And now, it would seem, I have further cause to be pessimistic about my chances of a victory, as even robots made out of Legos are here to beat me.

Observe the video below. That’s a huge, 156-square-foot chess board and pieces made entirely out of Lego Mindstorm parts–more than 100,000 of them. It’s called Monster Chess, and it’s awesome.

The battery-operated, Bluetooth-controlled pieces use downward-facing sensors to read grids built into the individual squares on the board. They then communicate with the controlling computer to keep track of their location in relation to other pieces. The computer tells each piece which direction to go, and how far, on its turn.

And the knights are animated. Watch the video and tell me that’s not cool.

It took a year for four people on Team Hassenplug, led by Steve Hassenplug, to put Monster Chess together at a cost of around $30,000. It can be played as human vs. computer, computer vs. computer, or human vs. human via the controlling computer. It uses international standardized rules from an enhanced version of the ChessBot software package. And no, sadly, you can’t buy one.


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sadly, the pieces are a bit pokey, so watching a full match isn’t the most thrilling thing in the world, but still, this proves something I’ve held true for a while: Legos are for grown-ups as much as they are for kids.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direct 

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direct 

Written by Vu Nguyen

June 16th, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Posted in General News

LEGO Education Grant Services

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[Source from LEGO Education]

Ah, June. The goal is the same as in previous summer break periods – to progress into the next school year striving to achieve the latest objectives.

The impetus is directed toward significant improvement in student outcomes, including making substantial gains in student achievement and teacher education, closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring that students are prepared for success in college and careers.

The Race to the Top financial message has placed challenging opportunities before school leaders. If they are successful, the federal gratuity will buy a clambake of enormous proportions. For more information, go to

Without the windfall of federal monies, the private sector appears more appealing to those who feel economically neglected. Secor Strategies is heavily into STEM courses and the funds to secure them. Some of the grant deadlines have passed. However, several financial opportunities appear to be ongoing and are suitable for those with green objectives or a desire for connections with robotics.

In lieu of those possibilities, we have the following grant offerings that could ensure those who seek them will “Never Walk Alone.”

Braitmayer Foundation

This foundation supports curricular reform and professional development.

Chevron Foundation

Chevron provides grants for partnerships between K-12 schools and local scientific organizations (museums, aquariums) to provide scientific exploration and discovery programs.

Bechtel Foundation

The fund supports the notion that a nation’s strength is in the fields of engineering and science.

DuPont Community Outreach

DuPont supports an emphasis on developing strong science programs.

Halliburton Foundation

The Halliburton Foundation accepts grant proposals from U.S.-based nonprofit organizations that serve the following areas: education, health, and social services (health related).

Teacher’s Pet (grant tips geared specifically toward teachers’ smaller projects)

Office Depot Foundation

This foundation is pleased to work with organizations large and small to collaborate on programs and efforts that bring systemic change to the communities they serve. Grants range from $50 to $3,000.

For more information about how you can find underwriting for LEGO Education products, visit Grant Resources on our home page,,

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or call 800-362-4308.

Written by Vu Nguyen

June 10th, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Posted in General News

FREE ROBOTC download for training, ROBOT Science, and more!

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ROBOTC available as FREE download for training this summer


The teams have spoken!
Three out of four teams at the FTC national championships programmed their prize-winning robots with ROBOTC this year.

Thanks to its real-time debugger, optimized code, free online training materials, and large forum support community, ROBOTC is quickly becoming the language of choice for the robotics competition community.

The Robotics Academy supports teams competing in ROBOFEST, the National Robotics Challenge, FTC, and the VEX competition, just to name a few.  And, this summer only, you can train with it for FREE!


Go to ROBOTC for Mindstorms to register to receive a free copy of ROBOTC that you can load onto either your personal computer or a classroom set of computers for training teachers and students to program LEGO and TETRIX robots this summer.

Go to ROBOTC for IFI to register to receive a free copy of ROBOTC to prepare teachers and students to program with VEX and Cortex robots.

Feel free to pass these links on to students, teachers, and hobbyists!

Teacher training at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy is filling fast!


Over the last five years over one thousand teachers from across the United States have come to Carnegie Mellon to receive training straight from the experts at the Robotics Academy. Remaining spots are filling fast!

To find out more about these classes, click here!

Can’t make it to Pittsburgh this year? Check out our online summer courses! Each course provides guided instruction with live instructors, using internet voice, video, and screen sharing technology to bring high-quality robotics instruction directly to your home,


office, or classroom.

To learn more about our Online Training, click here!

Use robotics to teach Science concepts


Have you considered using LEGO NXT robots to teach scientific principles like inquiry, or content like speed, heat, sound, and color? In Robot Science, students design and develop robotic prototypes that use powerful built-in data logging features of the NXT to collect experimental data and automatically generate graphs and tables for easy analysis.  Students use this data to generate and test hypotheses that lead not just to an understanding of these important scientific and technological concepts, but also the inquiry processes that drive science itself. Students even have a chance to apply their data gathering and interpretation skills in an engineering activity – the robot bridge inspection project.


Robot Science features five standards-based science and technology projects designed to teach scientific methodology and engineering process as students use sensors to investigate speed, heat, light, and sound. Each lesson includes:

  • Step-by-step video guidance for students
  • Worksheets and handouts
  • Quizzes, answer keys, and sample solutions for teachers
  • Lesson plans with classroom tips for each lesson

No prior NXT or programming experience is required. This product aligns with national math, science, and technology education standards. Unlock the scientific power of the NXT!

Color Strip BLACK

Check out ROBOT Science here

Written by Vu Nguyen

June 9th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Posted in General News

Cool creation: Printer made out of LEGO!

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LEGO fans never cease to amaze me.

A YouTube user going by the name of horseattack created an amazing printer made out of LEGO and a felt-tip pen.

The project itself was coded by hand and does not use any MINDSTORMS at all.

Take a look at the video below:

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YouTube Direct 

Video Description:

“Lego felt tip 110″ printer connected to an Apple Mac. This is not a kit you can buy

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and does not use mindstorms. I designed/built/coded it all from scratch including analog motor electronics, sensors and printer driver, the USB interface uses a “wiring” board.”

It may not be the fastest or most efficient printer in the world, but it sure is cool.

Well done, horseattack!

Written by Vu Nguyen

June 2nd, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Posted in General News