Moving robots are just part of the reward
Published 5:42 pm, Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Colorful robots are the reward at the end of the term for a hard-working group of students at the Gunnery School in Washington.
Teacher Elliot Fisher's computer programming II class has been waiting all semester for these projects, the school recently reported. The course is described as rigorous and math-laden.
To the uninitiated, the colorful robots look like an assemblage of Legos for the grandchildren.
Yet for the students, they are intricate machines that they can build and power themselves.
Mr. Fisher has divided his class into teams that each will build two or three robots over the week. There are 11 robot kits from which the teams can choose. Some of the robots are powered by pneumatic pressure, others by solar panels or solar-aided hydro-power, and still others carry their own little computer that the students program using the drag-and-drop images in a modified computer language.
Jeewoo Chung from Korea and Sherry Cen from China, commented on the irony of their project: an American Ferris wheel, which is powered by miniature solar panels.
The winter sun and the shifting tree branches don't allow quite enough light to keep the power up, so they use the solar panels to create power stored in a hydrogen battery.
"I have visions of that UNO attack system that shoots out the cards," said Evan.
Their first project was a shovel loader that will be used as a demonstration on the school's Revisit Days. Both are powered by pneumatics.
Jonathan Hay and Andre Yuzvik have chosen a difficult programming task, using light sensors and wheels to move their machine along a track and kick a "soccer ball" about the size of a tennis ball.
The machine behaves properly when tethered to the computer, but the problem they encounter when it is placed on the "field" requires some modifications of the supplied programming diagram.
For Mr. Fisher, who is occasionally called in to collaborate, his efforts are rewarded because the students seem 100 percent focused on the job at hand.