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Archive for June, 2012

Summer Competitions Are At CS2N

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This summer, CS2N is hosting online competitions: from animation to web design to game design, competitions are offered as several outlets for students, educators, and

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All of it is free!

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Written by Luke Reynolds

June 6th, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Posted in General News

Multi-Robot Student Challenge using Xbee Radios

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This is a repost from the Computer Science Student Network blog, but it is pretty good stuff if you are looking to do more with your students. We had a great event last week for about 50 local kids. The challenge was to use generic cialis”>Dexter Industry’s Xbee Radios to solve a couple of problems that required robots to talk to each other. We have been developing libraries, training materials, and a series of activities that allow multi-robot communications over the last 6 months. Initially we were testing our materials with one group at a time and we were having pretty good success so we decided to have a competition. We met with teams for two hours about two months ago and the rest of the training was done over the internet. Most of the teams were middle school level and had no previous programming experience.

Last week, nine teams participated in the multi-robot challenge, their ages ranged from 10 to 14. We designed two programming challenges, the first was a relay race where robot number one was asked to move to a specific spot and then send a second robot a wireless message

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that told that robot to begin tracking a line. The challenge was a pretty straightforward and all teams completed it. We wanted a simple challenge that taught how to send and recieve messages. It also gave teams the opportunity to learn how to optimize their robot program to send the message and have robot two track a line and stop at the end of the challenge. The winner of this part of the competition was the team that programmed their robots to get to the wall within the fastest time.

The Advanced Challenge…

The more advanced challenge had lots of interesting parts to it. Teams began with a “grid” world where teams knew the overall size of the board as well as the size of the grids. They didn’t know how far their robot needed to travel before it found it’s target and so they needed to write code that remembered the distance traveled and then send that distance to another robot. The second robot used that information to accurately travel to the location of a colored ball (they wouldn’t know which color the ball was going to be until they got to the ball and examined it. Once robot two got to the ball it needed to determine the balls color to to determine which goal it would knock the ball into.

There were lots of ways students could solve


the challenge. For instance, the distance-calculating robot could move toward the wall and as it did could count grid lines. If you knew the total number of lines on the field and then subtracted the number of lines travelled from the total number of lines on the grid you could communicated that information to the second robot so that it could find the ball which is ball resting atop a piece of PVC. Then the robot could use feedback from the light sensor to determine the color of the ball and then based on the color knock the ball toward the correct goal. As the ball bounced its way in, the ball-scoring robot communicated the color to its partner who moved into the opposite goal, attempting to defend it from any would-be imitators.

You can checkout the solution here.

According to Jason McKenna, K-8 Gifted Teacher in of the Hopewell Area School District, “The students had a great time with the grid challenge. It was a good summation of everything they had learned to that point, and a good introduction into the use of the NXTBee’s. Based upon their previous experience using the Virtual Worlds to learn ROBOTC, the students knew that they would first have to break the challenge into a series of small tasks that they could individually test and complete. Then, they could put everything together sequentially into a finished program.”

McKenna continues, “Each individual task would involve the use of different programming techniques that they had learned throughout the year. For example, the students knew that the use of variables was going to be an integral part of the program. Moreover, the final piece of the puzzle was the use of the countValue variable in a while loop in order to have the robot move into the appropriate goal. It took the students approximately three weeks to work out all of the problems associated with the grid challenge.”

If you want to try the challenge or see the sample code, the challenge and working code is posted at the bottom of the CS2N Blog article.

Written by Robin Shoop

June 1st, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Posted in General News