Saturday, September 10, 2016

First Pincher Creek Coder Rodeo teaches robotics and programming skills

Toni Lucas - Six youth spent the week of August 22-26 at the Lebel Mansion in Pincher Creek learning how to program robots through the (STEM) Learning Lab Coder Rodeo with STEM Director of Education Sava Knezic. They were given the opportunity to program three different robot types: a humanoid JD Bot, a Hexapod, and an Adventure Bot. Each of the participants had the freedom to chose what they wanted to make their robot do, and the responsibility to try and program them to achieve that task.

Programmer Austin Ford
Programmers Bill Tomson (foreground) and Eli Schuler
STEM Director of Education Sava Knezic and Programmer Markus Salvador
Programmer Shawn Hammond
Programmer Matthias Eden
The programming was based in inputting frames to get the servos and additional functions of the robot (such as speech, speech recognition or cameras) to do what was required in the proper order, at the correct time. Savic likened the process to be similar to stop motion animation, with similar challenges of having to think through an entire process.

 Most of the boys had the opportunity to program a number of different robots and tasks. The week long workshop was brought by Regional Centres for Arts, Design and Entrepreneurship (RCADE). RCADE's James VanLeeuwen said "It's fun stuff, and has endless relevance and application in the real world." The group plans to have more robotics workshops in the future.  They are considering hosting one designed specifically for young women.

Many of the students had already had experience with robotic programming through Matthew Halton High School's Experiential Learning Week in March.

On day one the student familiarized themselves with the equipment, and before the day was halfway finished many were well underway programming robots. By the end of the week all of the students worked on programing a variety of different commands. and could show off a task from their robot.

Some of the programming and demonstrations included:

Austin Ford and Crabbot
Austin Ford had made a two headed eight limbed concoction from parts he dubbed 'Crabbot'. This was a conglomerate robot using parts from multiple designs, requiring advanced programming. Ford programmed Crabbot to drag itself forward using only four limbs for effect, and had it speak using sound bites from computer games.

Shawn Hammond's robot contemplates the stair challenge
Shawn Hammond was having his humanoid robot doing handstands on the first day, and took on the stair challenge for last day. This was difficult because the stair came up to the chest of the robot.

Bill Thomson's robot was a stand up (comedian) guy
Bill Thomson programmed a comedy routine and a soccer ball kick game with Matthias Eden.

Matthias Eden worked with Thomson on soccer, and created a dance routine.

Eli Shuter had a hexopod dancing, upside down. This robot could also pass tape from servo leg to servo leg.

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