[Edu-sig] Inexpensive robot teaching platforms

Blake Elias blakeelias at gmail.com
Fri Jun 24 18:09:15 CEST 2011

Right now we're leaning towards the Adventure Bot:


It's quite a bit cheaper at $80.  Though it doesn't have nearly as
many sensors, they'll still be able to do some cool things.  And we
can afford more of them so the kids can work in smaller groups.  With
the small amount of time we have to teach, I'm not sure we'd even get
a chance to use the Scribbler's additional capabilities like camera

Once they see the basics on the small robot, they'll be able to play a
little bit with the larger ones we build for the competition, which
weigh 120 lbs and have more functions.  Those just aren't great
teaching tools in the beginning because they take up more space and we
don't have enough of them for kids to work in groups of 1-3.

Blake Elias

On Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 1:16 AM, Vern Ceder <vceder at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Blake,
> On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 10:40 PM, Blake Elias <blakeelias at gmail.com> wrote:
>> My high school competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition.  Every year
>> we have to teach new members basic robotics and programming concepts,
>> to get them excited and prepared for the heat of competition.  Those
>> who have the patience stay with it and have a great time, but we
>> always lose a bunch of people partly because the lessons are not very
>> interesting or useful.  I believe the solution is to teach with small
>> robots, instead of just writing on the board and doing "hello
>> world"-type programs.
> That was exactly the same conclusion we came to, although at our school the
> competition uses Vexx components and is designed by local engineers. And
> we've had some success following the approach you suggest.
>> Vern, I was very inspired by your PyCon talk on teaching programming
>> with the Scribbler.  I know people have had success with it, it looks
> I'm glad to hear that, I'm going to give essentially the same talk at ISTE
> on Monday (thanks to the Python Software Foundation board for supporting
> that trip financially!), and I'll report back if I get any interesting
> feedback.
>> like a great robot to teach with.  For our budget however, getting a
>> bunch of these would be a stretch (I think the scribbler + fluke board
>> combo costs $140 -- is this correct?).  You do need the Fluke board
>> unless you want to program it in BASIC Stamp or their GUI, right?
> You are pretty much right on all counts, except that the Scribbler/Fluke
> combo is more like $180. Depending on numbers it still might be worth it to
> work in teams of 2-4, although that does have its downside. The scribbler
> isn't perfect, but it's pretty darned good for the cost.
> Cheers and good luck (and by all means, keep us posted).
> Vern
>> I've seen some cheaper mini-robots but I'm not sure if they're any
>> good.  Does anyone have suggestions?
>> Thanks,
>> Blake Elias
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> --
> Vern Ceder
> vceder at gmail.com, vceder at dogsinmotion.com
> The Quick Python Book, 2nd Ed - http://bit.ly/bRsWDW

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