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A Teacher’s POV: RVW VEX IQ Beltway

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Beltway2Jason McKenna, from the Hopewell Area School District outside of Pittsburgh, PA, writes about his experience in the classroom with the new Robot Virtual World game, VEX IQ Beltway. Check it out below …

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The new VEX IQ virtual game Beltway is a great way to challenge your students to apply the basics of ROBOTC programming while also asking them to come up with unique strategies to try to score as many points in the 2 minute game as possible. My students just spent about 3 weeks working on the challenge and trying to score the highest score as possible. The students had an absolute blast and as a teacher, it was great seeing all the different ways the students tried to tackle this completely open-ended challenge.

Beltway4The objective in Beltway is the same as VEX IQ Highrise: program your VEX IQ robot to autonomously score as many cubes as possible during a 2 minute period. With Beltway, a conveyor belt has been added around the perimeter of the game field in order to assist with game play. Additionally, the virtual environment utilizes “magic stacking” meaning that the cubes automatically jump onto the stack when they are placed onto of the stacking cube regardless of the apparent size of the robot. The conveyor belt reduces the accumulation of error, where, for example, a robot’s slight error in one turn becomes a larger error when the robot repeats that same turn 4 or 5 times. Any time students attempt a long program with many different elements they will at some point become frustrated with the accumulation of error that occurs. Magic stacking and the large margin of error that enables easy pickup of cubes eliminates any frustration that the students may encounter as try to pick up cubes and then stack them. These elements of gameplay in Beltway allow students to focus on their strategy, and it also allows them to try to experiment with many different scoring methods because they are not spending a lot of time programming perfect 90 degree turns and aligning their robots perfectly to pick up a cube. You can click here for a more extensive list of rules and information about gameplay!

Beltway1Beltway comes with a variety of sample programs that students can use to help them get started or as a reference as they adjust their strategies. For example, if students decided that they wanted to control the conveyer belt manually, they could refer to a sample program to see how that is done. I did that many times while monitoring the students. After a few days, the students aren’t repeatedly raising their hands; instead, they just refer to the sample programs for guidance.

The game also served as a great tool to teach beginning programmers the utility of comments. Oftentimes, beginners don’t make programs quite as long as the ones they will make for Beltway. Students quickly saw the need to point out what was going on in their code with comments so they could go back to those sections and make whatever adjustments they wanted as they progressed with their gameplay.

As I stated earlier, my students had a lot of fun while playing Beltway. It is not easy to keep students’ interest level high in an activity that takes 3 weeks. The students maintained their level of interest and they consistently asked to stay after school to work on their programs some more. We had an in-class competition where the students ran their final programs. The winning team scored the winning points as the timer, literally, went to zero. It was pandemonium in my room. Kids were high-fiving each other, cheering, and remarking at how awesome the competition turned out. Students were also talking about the different strategies that the other teams used and how they could change their programs based upon what they had just seen.

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So now, of course, the students want to play some more. This is great because now I can use that as an opportunity to show students how they can take some of the code that they used over and over again (for example, picking up cubes) and show them how they can use full ROBOTC to turn those behaviors into functions. Beltway has proven to be both a great teaching and learning tool in my classroom.

Click here to download the game!

- Jason McKenna

A Teacher’s POV: First Year Teaching Automation and Robotics

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In our latest Teacher’s POV post, Ross Hartley wrote a wonderful post about his first semester teaching Automation and Robotics in the Pickerington Local School District. Check it out below …

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This is my third year teaching, but my first time working with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and a robotics course. After accepting this assignment, I was extremely nervous. I did not study robotics in college, and I had never, ever pictured myself in this role. But I am so very happy to have taken on this challenge.

This is a picture of students preparing for the Racecar Challenge. Students had to build and program a racecar that would go the fastest in 20 feet but had 6 feet past the finish line to stop.

This is a picture of students preparing for the Racecar Challenge. Students had to build and program a racecar that would go the fastest in 20 feet but had 6 feet past the finish line to stop.

Students working on building and programming a car that would follow a set of simulated directions to go from the house of one student to the movies and back. Students had to program the lights to turn on and off, backing in and out of parking spaces, and completing turns.

Students building and programming a car that would follow a set of simulated directions to go from the house of one student to the movies and back. Students had to program the lights to turn on and off, backing in and out of parking spaces, and completing turns.

My favorite part about teaching this class is the atmosphere and expectations that I set up with this class and my students. From the first day of school, I was completely honest with the kids. I broke down the walls of the normal teacher-student relationship where the teacher is looked at as the bearer of all knowledge and all knowledge is passed down from the teacher to the students. I created a culture where students and their knowledge are equally valued and as important as the teacher’s. This led to a culture of mutual respect and collaboration. I, as the teacher, was not viewed as the bearer of all knowledge, but as a helpful resource to rely on when problems arose. The most important part of creating this culture is setting up those expectations from the beginning of school.

This was the last challenge for the class. Students had to build and program a “ClawBot” to complete various tasks including picking up and moving a cup as pictured.

Students had to build and program a “ClawBot” to complete various tasks including picking up and moving a cup as pictured.

The major theme from this class was “Problem-Solving”. I would present students with a variety of real-world scenarios and they would have to think of a design to solve that problem. They would work in groups of 2 to 4 students to create, construct, and program these robots to solve the problems I presented to them. This allowed for A LOT of different interpretations and ways to solve these problems, which was awesome!

Several key strategies that I incorporated into the class that proved to be successful were: purposeful grouping, incorporating student choice, and using students in a teacher’s role to help other students who needed more assistance. I incorporated a “Menus” style of teaching and learning. Students would be purposefully grouped into groups of 2-4 and then they would be presented with 3 different levels of activities: Appetizer, Main Meal, and Dessert. Within each level, students would have to choose 1 task out of 3 or 4 different options. As a group, students would choose which task to complete. Once decided, students would work as a group to design, build, and program the robot to complete the task. I would watch the robot perform the task, sign off on their paper, and they would move on to the next part of the menu. The activities got progressively more difficult as students moved from the Appetizer to the Main Meal to the Dessert level, with the Dessert level activities being the most difficult.

As we get ready to begin with the second semester, I cannot help but think about how much I have learned and how better of a teacher that I have become because of teaching this class. Some future ideas I have are the creation of a “Girls in STEM Club”. The purpose of this being opening girls’ eyes to future careers and possibilities associated with this class and the STEM ideals. Also, possibly creating a VEX Competition Robotics club where students would meet after school to construct robots to participate in VEX Robotics competitions. One thing that I realized early on in my teaching career is how much teachers learn from their students. Teaching this class has been one of the best learning experiences of my life.

For this challenge students had to build a freight elevator that had three different switches on the actual elevator. When pressed, the elevator takes passengers from the ground floor to the first or second floor and back down.

For this challenge students had to build a freight elevator that had three different switches on the actual elevator. When pressed, the elevator takes passengers from the ground floor to the first or second floor and back down.

 

- Ross Hartley

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If you’re a teacher or robotics coach and would like to write a blog about your experiences teaching robotics, send us an email at socialmedia@cs2n.org!

Written by Cara Friez

February 4th, 2015 at 11:17 am

LEGO Online Trainings Start in February!

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EV3 Course Robomatter Banner 2

We are excited to announce our latest online training schedule, which start in February. Register for our EV3 classes today! Enjoy the convenience of taking Robotics Academy courses without leaving your own computer workstation.

Benefits of our Online Training:
- Assisted training using provided hardware and software
- Screen sharing amongst the class
- Networking opportunities with other professional educators
- Robotics Academy Certification for “Graduates”

EV3 Online Professional Development
Feb 18th – Mar 25th, 2015
Wednesdays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST)
* Graduates Earn a Robotics Academy Certification!

ROBOTC EV3 Online Professional Development
Feb 19th – Mar 26th, 2015
Thursdays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST)
* Graduates Earn a Robotics Academy Certification!

REGISTER TODAY!!

 

Visit us at the PLTW Summit 2014!

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Photo Nov 02, 3 21 40 PM We are at the 2014 PLTW Summit in Indianapolis this week! Stop by our booth to say hi and ask us questions.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Nov 02, 9 32 09 PM

We also have our latest iPad app, Robot Virtual Worlds Expedition Atlantis, available to try out.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Nov 02, 5 00 43 PMAnd there is a ROBOTC Maze Challenge where you can program a VEX IQ robot using ROBOTC Graphical.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Nov 02, 9 32 15 PM

We look forward to seeing everyone!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Written by Cara Friez

November 3rd, 2014 at 6:30 am

Expedition Atlantis for the iPad is Now FREE for a Limited Time!

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Flat Pad Mini MockupThe Robot Virtual Worlds team is proud to announce our iPad app, Expedition Atlantisis now FREE for a limited time from the Apple App Store!  

Expedition Atlantis immerses you in a world of underwater robotics exploration, where you must solve math problems to control your robot’s movement in the deep seas ruins.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
btn_standards_rollThe math problems will help students understand proportional relationships and the basics of robot programming. It is designed for the student to learn as they play, and includes in-game tutorials to help them play along. As you play, you’ll be able to customize your robot, and also earn achievements through our Computer Science Student Network (CS2N). A full teacher’s guide for using Expedition Atlantis in the classroom is available at www.robotvirtualworlds.com/ipad.
 
 
 
btn_research_rollExpedition Atlantis was tested in a number of diverse classroom settings. In every case, students had measurable gains in proportional understanding, as well as increased interest in math and robotics. Read more about the research here!
 
 
 
 
 
Check out our gameplay video here …
 


 
As you play along with the app, please send us your feedback at support@robotvirtualworlds.com! We’d love to know what you think and any improvements we can make.

Download Today!!

 

Written by Cara Friez

October 6th, 2014 at 6:45 am

Sign Up for the VEX IQ Virtual Challenge!

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free-graphical

We are very excited to announce the VEX IQ Virtual Challenge! This challenge is part of an ongoing research project by Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy and the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center designed to assist robotics teams learning to program.

teacherstudentmessageParticipating students will learn programming that enables them to solve this year’s VEX IQ Virtual Highrise Challenge. As they learn they will also earn an Introduction to Robotics and Programming Certification.

Robomatter, Inc. will be working closely with the Robotics Academy to create high quality STEM learning experiences, and has agreed to provide access to all related materials FOR FREE this competition season …

- This year’s Virtual HighRise Challenge Game
- Programming Curriculum to help you learn to program
- A live online course to help guide you through the curriculum
- Free ROBOTC and Robot Virtual Worlds Software for active participants
- Digital Certification for students who complete the course and challenge

The first online training course starts October 16th, but you will receive access to the software, the virtual worlds, and the curriculum immediately when you register to participate.  In order to solicit responses to our research questions the ROBOTC and Robot Virtual World licenses are time limited, they will last until November 15, or if your students actively participate by working your way through the programming challenges you will have the license extended until April 2015.

To access these resources and find out more go to the VEX IQ Virtual Challenge page: www.robotc.net/vexiq

We hope that you participate in this project. If you have additional questions please send them to research@cs2n.org

Written by Cara Friez

October 3rd, 2014 at 12:05 pm

LEGO Online Training Starts Soon! Register Today!

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OnlineTraining.235000

Only two more weeks until our Fall LEGO online trainings start. Register for the LEGO TETRIX and/or the EV3 classes today! Enjoy the convenience of taking Robotics Academy courses without leaving your own computer workstation.

Benefits of our Online Training:
- Assisted training using provided hardware and software
- Screen sharing amongst the class
- Networking opportunities with other professional educators
- Robotics Academy Certification for “Graduates”

 

EV3

EV3

 

EV3 Online Professional Development
Oct 15th – Nov 19th, 2014
Wednesdays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST)
* Graduates Earn a Robotics Academy Certification!

FREE!! ROBOTC for EV3 Webinars
Oct 14th – Nov 18th, 2014
Tuesdays for 6 Weeks
7-7:45pm EST (4-4:45pm PST)

 

 

TETRIX

TETRIX

 

ROBOTC Online Training for LEGO / TETRIX
Oct 16th – Nov 20th, 2014
Thursdays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST)
* Graduates Earn a Robotics Academy Certification!

 

 

REGISTER TODAY!!

 

Code! Compete! Learn Robotics Today!

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We are excited to share our Fall online training schedule with you! Enjoy the convenience of taking Robotics Academy courses without leaving your own computer workstation.

Register for a class today!!

Online Training Schedule

EV3 Online Professional Development
Oct 15th – Nov 19th, 2014
Wednesdays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST)

Complimentary ROBOTC for EV3 Webinars
More Details Coming Soon!
Oct 14th – Nov 18th, 2014
Tuesdays for 6 Weeks
7-7:45pm EST (4-4:45pm PST)

ROBOTC Online Training for LEGO / TETRIX
Oct 16th – Nov 20th, 2014
Thursdays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST)

ROBOTC Online Training for VEX CORTEX
Oct 13th – Nov 17th, 2014
Mondays for 6 Weeks
6-8:00pm EST (3-5:00pm PST

Complimentary ROBOTC for VEX IQ Webinars
More Details Coming Soon!
Oct 14th – Nov 18th, 2014
Tuesdays for 6 Weeks
6-6:45pm EST (3-3:45pm PST

 

 

 

 

Pre-Release of our ROBOTC Graphical Curriculum Available Today!

 

 

Try Out the Newest Robot Virtual World Competitions!

The VEX Skyrise virtual world simulates the brand new VEX Robotics Competition, announced today at VEX Worlds, for the 2014-2015 season. Like previous simulations of the competitions, this virtual world includes multiple fully programmable robots, the correctly scaled field and game objects, and score and timer tracking.

Simulating the official 2014-2015 VEX IQ competition, VEX Highrise, the object of the game is to attain the highest possible score by Scoring Cubes in the Scoring Zone and by building Highrises of Cubes of the same color on the Highrise Bases. It’s absolutely perfect for teams who want to do strategic planning and learn how to program!

 

 

 

 

Written by Cara Friez

September 2nd, 2014 at 10:39 am

Recent Article about ROBOTC in China Daily Europe!

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China ROBOTC 006

Terry Sy (second right), executive director of China RobotC, and his team members show their works at the China International Robot Show. Chen Yingqun / China Daily

China Daily Europe recently interviewed Terry Sy, executive director of China ROBOTC, about robotics education. Check out the article below!

Repost from China Daily Europe

They are here to teach, not to steal your job

Education using robots promotes employment, says licensee for top US training system

The widely held belief that robots cost jobs is a fallacy, a robotics expert says.

Terry Sy, executive director of China ROBOTC, the only organization authorized in China to promote what is considered one of the world’s premier robotics education systems, says: “Many parents have asked me about the future of robots. I tell them that if they want their children never to face unemployment, let them do something related to robots.”

ROBOTC was developed at the Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University, the global research university, based in Pittsburgh.

It supports several different robotics platforms and features a variety of functions, including tips and tools for educators and parents on using robotics to teach children about math, science, engineering and physics.

Sy established China ROBOTC in Xi’an, northwestern China, which is considered the center of China’s aerospace, controls and automation market – the perfect location, arguably, to attract the kind of modern young minds who might consider a career in robotics.

“The people who make, apply and repair robots and who teach about robots will always be needed in future.”

Speaking at the recent China International Robot Show in Shanghai, Sy said he felt strongly that Carnegie Mellon’s programs and systems will be a huge benefit to the teaching of robotics in China, and will help narrow the knowledge gap that exists between Chinese and Western students.

The ROBOTC programming language has already been translated into 15 languages and used in more than 40 countries.

In the US alone, more than 300 colleges and 10,000 primary and secondary schools are using its curriculum, Sy says.

ROBOTC is a programming language that uses what is considered an easy-to-use development environment that supports several of the simplest and most commonly used different robotics platforms, including LEGO, VEX PIC, Cortex and Arduino.

It contains firmware that boosts performance and greatly improves program download times, its developers say.

It also features an interactive, run-time debugger, which helps developers find and fix bugs in programs, allowing them to view and edit all of the values that the robot sees – motors, timers, sensors and variables – and quickly pinpoint and troubleshoot problems in programs, greatly reducing the time it takes to develop a program.

“It is easy enough for primary students to learn, but also satisfies the needs of programming experts,” Sy says.

He had the idea of bringing the system to China in 2012, when he was in Beijing attending a national seminar on physical robots, on behalf of the Carnegie Robotics Academy.

At least 20 Chinese universities were at the event, and he found that many wanted to set up robot courses, but did not have qualified teachers, professional textbooks or robot platforms, let alone know how to run courses.

“Chinese students are very good at showing off innovative technologies in competitions, but China doesn’t have a good robot education system,” he says.

He adds the biggest defect in China’s robot education system, however, is that students are not taught how to program and just use existing written codes, which are not enough to develop their own talent further, so he decided to bring ROBOTC to China.

“ROBOTC language can support the world’s biggest robot platforms. It can help children become more innovative, and college students and workers gain more technical skills,” he says.

He chose Xi’an as it was less expensive and crowded than Beijing or Shanghai, but also because the region boasts about 60 universities.

He is now looking for a subsidiary in Shanghai, and more outlets are planned in other cities.

His plan is to increase collaboration with universities and schools by setting up robots in college laboratories.

So far two universities and several primary schools have adopted the system, and the goal is to bring it to 100 colleges, 100 middle schools and 100 primary schools, providing specialist robot training for teachers and technicians.

It is planned to offer training online, so the language can also be brought to people in remote villages or locations that do not have the resources to support robot education.

Sy is confident that despite robots still being a novelty to many in China, their use is set to grow fast.

In 2011, US President Barack Obama decided to give greater priority to the use of robotics in teaching the vital fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Sy believes it is now important for China to move in that direction.

“That is why we want to bring this kind of robot education to as many parts of China as we can, to make it part of the Chinese education system. This training will definitely help people become more logical and confident.”

chenyingqun@chinadaily.com.cn

Repost from China Daily Europe

Check out some photos from their very first VEX Training in Xi’an, China!

 

Written by Cara Friez

August 14th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Mentoring Program uses ROBOTC and VEX IQ to Teach STEM and Connect with Military Families

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Tyrrek Grizzle poses with a robot he constructed during the robotics summer camp. The camp is part of an ECU partnership that supports elementary and middle grades students from military families in eastern North Carolina. (Photos by Jay Clark)

Tyrrek Grizzle poses with a robot he constructed during the robotics summer camp. The camp is part of an ECU partnership that supports elementary and middle grades students from military families in eastern North Carolina. (Photos by Jay Clark)

We were delighted to hear about an inaugural weeklong robotics summer camp happening in North Carolina that is using ROBOTC, ROBOTC Graphical, and the VEX Robotics IQ system to help teach students STEM while keeping them connected to their military families. (One of the mentors was trained at the Robotics Academy last summer too!) Read the story and watch the video highlighting this program below!

Reblog from East Carolina University’s News Service

POSITIVE CONNECTIONS
ECU partners in Operation LINK mentoring program

Ten-year-old Tyrrek Grizzle took control of his paddle, maneuvering his miniature land mover with ease.

He and a teammate moved his robot across a grid and past an opponent to pick up as many green-colored blocks as possible and dump them in a coordinating green basket. The team that filled the basket with the most blocks in the three-minute competition won.

Grizzle attended an inaugural weeklong robotics summer camp through Operation LINK, an AmeriCorps school-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics mentoring program for elementary and middle grades students in eastern North Carolina. The STEM program, with a special emphasis on students from military families, will transition from an afterschool program to part of the regular school day this fall.

 


 

Offered this spring in Wayne County, the program aims to promote positive behaviors and success in school while keeping military youth connected to family. It’s a partnership between East Carolina University, AmeriCorps, military family support networks, veterans groups, community colleges and public schools.

The summer camp, held at Greenwood Middle School in Goldsboro, allowed students to make real robots from designs they developed in their afterschool program.

Counselors and campers used a box kit to construct a robot with up to 650 pieces. A software program (ROBOTC) developed at Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy gave the students the ability to control movements.

“We had fourth-graders writing code,” said Michael “Mike” Dermody, associate professor of cinematic arts and media production in the ECU School of Art. Dermody, who grew up in a military family, said “It’s amazing how quickly they adapt. It’s a very tactile and hands-on experience. They go in and test and modify it. There’s lots of activity between the computer itself and the robot.”

For Grizzle, a rising fifth-grader at Tommy’s Road Elementary School, taking his work from the computer lab to create a functioning robot is exciting. “Robots help you in a lot of ways,” said Grizzle. “They help us do things we can’t normally do ourselves.” Grizzle has cousins who serve in the military.

Amy Perry, left, watches as her daughter, Kayla Perry, works at the Operation LINK afterschool program held this spring in Goldsboro. Amy Perry is a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, where she inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Amy Perry, left, watches as her daughter, Kayla Perry, works at the Operation LINK afterschool program held this spring in Goldsboro. Amy Perry is a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, where she inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The pilot program will become part of the curriculum this fall at three Wayne County schools with a higher population of children from military families, said Lou U. Rose, Operation LINK coordinator in the ECU College of Education, which has facilitated the program.

“We will be able to impact more kids that way.”

Area teachers observed some of the program activities. “Some will do it as an elective in science and math classes,” Rose said.

“The beauty of this is they can tailor it and run with it and be creative. It brings relevancy in the real world, and maybe will get students interested in science.”

Michael Giddens, an AmeriCorps camp mentor who earned a teaching certificate in middle grades science and math from ECU in May, said students learned to collaborate and work as a team at the camp.

“The energy has been electrifying,” Giddens said. “Keeping them (students) engaged is a challenge in the classroom in the 21st century.”

One old-fashioned value students have learned has been patience, Giddens said, such as when broken robots have had to be re-assembled. Now poised to reach more students, the initial idea for the Operation LINK program was to create a way for military parents to interact with their children – via the web – while the parents were away from home. “It’s (been) a way to keep the child connected,” Dermody said.

USAF airman first class Eagan Nadeau pilots one of the student robots.

USAF airman first class Eagan Nadeau pilots one of the student robots.

Amy Perry’s nine-year-old daughter Kayla and 10-year-old daughter, Alexis, participated in the afterschool program. Perry, a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The Perry family doesn’t have a computer, internet or cable in their home. So the program has helped support her girls’ interests in science and technology. “It works for us,” she said.

Perry said the counselors encouraged her daughters’ unique personalities. “It’s allowing them to have the space to be who they are,” she said. “Respecting others is important.”

Kayla Perry said she enjoyed the computer lab and making a virtual robot. “I like the teachers. All the time they think of cool things for us to do,” she said. “They always come up with these amazing ideas.”

Program activities have helped build relationships between mentors and students, and among students, said Virginia Harris, a retired teacher and military spouse who taught 23 years in several states and overseas.

“I’ve seen changes in the students, being able to work together and learning to follow rules better,” Harris said. “One of the main things they learn is you’re not an island. You have to get along with people in life. I think it’s difficult for little people to work together as a team sometimes.”

To learn more, visit www.ecu.edu/operationlink.

Logan Chase, 10, works on programming after a practice session with his robot.

Logan Chase, 10, works on programming after a practice session with his robot.

Reblog from East Carolina University’s News Service

Written by Cara Friez

July 24th, 2014 at 11:26 am