School: Marian Catholic High School
Location: Chicago Heights, Illinois, USA
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: 9–12
I teach Engineering I, II, III and afterschool Robotics Club. Students must learn and apply the Engineering Cycle to engineering challenges. As students progress through Engineering I, they learn CAD, robotics programming, 3D Design and Printng, Basic Electronics, and measurenent of distance, voltage, current, and resistance.
These skills are used in Engineering II and III to solve engineering challenges and contests of their own choosing. Past challenges include pinball machine, Giant Trebuchets, and during the Covid 19 Pandemic, Designing a face shield that won’t slide off your forehead (students made 400 shields for local hospitals as well).
My students are honor students whom excel in Math and Science courses. Students are highly motivated to work together in teams for alll challenges they themselves choose. Students can select any type of engineering they are interested in such as Aerospace, Electronics, Manufacturing, Transportation, or SOE probem solving invention they have an idea about trying out.
I have been using Parallax robots since the old serial port days. Currently, we use 20 ActivityBots and we’re adding cyber:bots for the Engineering I class. We also use Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and the BBC micro:bit in the robotics club.
The Activity Bot, because I’ve been using it so long. It has evolved into a robust platform useful for many
sensory inputs and outputs.
Set up a makerspace with tools for fabricating prototypes. Let students learn programming without throwing answers at them. This teaches them not to quit, and gives them self esteem having earned their skills through hard work.
School: Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School of the Arts
Location: Trenton, NJ
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: 6-8th, Robotics/STEM Club
The STEM Club covers engineering skills such as programming the BASIC Stamp 2 Microcontroller Module and the activities included in the BASIC Stamp Discovery Kit – USB. In addition, students must select a project that can be automated and displayed in the STEM showcase. Previous projects included K’nex rollercoasters, hoberman spheres, Teddy Bears, etc.
Our STEM club aims to motivate and build confidence in young people who struggle with STEM subjects, and provide an extra outlet for students who already show aptitude and are interested in furthering their learning.
The club meets twice a week for 1.5 hours in the Fall and Winter months, and once a week in the Spring.
Outstanding Experience!! When I tell the students that their projects will be controlled by a single switch that is connected to a microcontroller, the students get really motivated. When they see their operating projects on display for the entire school to admire, that is a paradigm shift toward STEM careers.
BASIC Stamp 2 Microcontroller Module and the activities included in the BASIC Stamp Discovery Kit.
Definitely the BASIC Stamp 2 Microcontroller. I grew-up using Radio Shack’s 150-in-1 electronic kit, but with the Stamp 2 module, simple coding replacing hours of hard wiring.
Students will ascend to your expectation of excellent!!
School: DaVinci Academy of Arts and Sciences
Location: Corning, CA
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: 6, Makerspace, After-school Tech Club
My main objectives are for students to learn 21st century skills. Robotics helps students do this in a fun and engaging platform. It is also an effective way to introduce programming to students.Students at all levels of ability can excel and it provides them with useful future employment skills.It boosts self confidence and helps critical thinking skills.
My students are still in the beginning stages of their robotics instruction. They have really enjoyed putting the robots together and making them do basic moves. Some of them really enjoy the Scribbler and drawing different paths for it to travel on, while some of them find the challenge of programming the Shield robot more exciting.The look on their face when they program a robot, unplug it and it does what they want it to is priceless.
We use Scribbler 3 robots, Shield robots, and the educator tutorial for each robot.
I really enjoy the Shield robot. I learned a lot in the Course I took this summer (thanks Andy!).
If they can, take a teacher course offered by Parallax. It really helped. Get a couple of robots and let your students tinker with them. They can do it! Some will really love it and some won’t. That’s ok. In giving them the opportunity and exposure you are really giving them a gift.
I love the Parallax products and the people. I feel completely supported. I know that if I have questions or problems arise, I will get the answers that I need. Thank you for your support! I feel that they really value teachers and students learning.
“I am really glad to hear that you are featuring Noelle and I’d love to share some words about her!!!!! She is a rock star and a hero – to kids, teacher colleagues, and the education system as a whole (and me). I first met her years ago when I was the educational technology coach for the county; she was a participant in one of the workshops I held for teachers. When I followed up in her classroom, she blew me away with her ability to take the learning from the workshop and turn it into magic for her kids.
Noelle’s thirst for learning and absolute dedication to serving kids with engaging real-world experiences is second to none. She will be the first to tell you that great learning doesn’t come from a book and the first to share her experiences so that others can find inspiration and ideas that actually work. She embodies the perfect blend of moxie, rebel, and loving teacher, which makes for a winning combination in everything she does. I have the utmost respect and admiration for her, both as a teacher and a friend.
How’s that? I didn’t even embellish one bit! I could go on and on about her – she’s the real deal and I’m so very glad that you are honoring her!!!”
Michelle Carlson, Founder and CEO
Future Development Group, LLC
School: Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá (Technological University of Panama)
Location: David, Chiriquí, Republica de Panamá
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: Introducción a la Programación (Introduction to Programming)
El curso de Introducción a la Programación se basa en dar los principales aspectos de cómo construir secuencias de código y aplicarlas, se ha realizado un cambio en el sentido de en vez de realizar una programación fría en un computador, los estudiantes programen los boe bots y puedan ver el fruto de su programación en algo tangible.
Introduction to programming is a course based on teaching the main aspects of constructing code sequences, and applying them. We have seen a change in the way students react to programming the Boe-Bot and seeing the fruits of your labor on something tangible versus plain aimless programming on a computer.
Uno de los aspectos importantes en el aprendizaje, es que los estudiantes puedan interactuar con lo que hacen, dar una clase de Introducción a la Programación viendo un monitor de computadora era demasiado frio, al introducir los Sumo Bot en este curso, le da la oportunidad a los estudiantes a tocar e involucrarse más en lo que hacen, teniendo como resultado un aprendizaje más significativo, lo que lleva a un mejor desempeño. La experiencia tanto para los estudiantes, como para mí, fue muy enriquecedora, ya que los estudiantes ponen todo su empeño en resolver las diferentes prácticas que se les pusieron y se sintieron muy motivados en participar.
Uno de los objetivos de esta experiencia de programar era que puedan palpar y ver el resultado de su programación en acción por medio de los Sumo Bot. Muchos estudiantes nos comentaron que el aprendizaje fue significativo, ya que podían ver sus errores y corregirlos de una manera más sencilla, esto aunado a que se divertían mientras aprendían programación de una manera muy trasparente. Un aspecto a mencionar es el que poco a poco, muchos estudiantes compartían sus nuevos conocimientos de lo que hacían y daban indicaciones a otros compañeros de cómo realizar las acciones con el Sumo Bot, lo que denotaba un aprendizaje real, ya que pueden enseñarles a otros compañeros.
One of the bests aspects for the students is that they get to interact with what they make/do. Before, students would program and stare at a monitor for long periods of time which became a drawn-out process. These kits give the student the opportunity to physically see the outcome of what they program or make, and they have become more engaged with what they learn and this results in better performance. The experience for the students as well as for myself has been very enriching. The students have been very motivated in solving the many different challenges and exercises they have been handed.
One of the main objectives of this course was to have the student physically see the results of their programming in action by way of the SumoBot kit. Many students commented that their learning experience was significant since they can see their errors and fix them in real time in such a simple way. Something worth mentioning is that the students began to naturally start to use their new skills to compete with each other and they would help any student that fell behind.
Para el Curso de Introducción a la Programación, se utilizaron los kits SumoBot Robots, Tank Tread kit y PING))) Ultrasonic Distance Sensor en la parte de hardware, además de los manuales SumoBot-Mini Sumo Robotics v2.1, Robótica con el Boe Bot v3.0, ¿Que es un microcontrolador? como manuales de referencia, también se consultó la bibliografía y los códigos fuentes de Parallax.
In the Introduction to programming course we use the Sumobot kits, Tank Tread kit, and the PING))) Ultrasonic Distance sensor for hardware. We also use manuals such as Robotics with the Boe-Bot v3.0, Whats a Microcontroller?, and SumoBot kit manuals. We also use Parallax code tutorials.
El Basic Stamp II, Boe Bot Kit y Sumo Bot Kit, son los que he utilizado en las diferentes clases, los cuales me han permitido trabajar de una manera sencilla tanto la parte electrónica como la programación, ya que es sumamente fácil y promueve la generación de ideas y proyectos que se pueden realizar.
The BS2, Boe-Bot kit and the SumoBot kit were the items used the most since they are easy to use and generates ideas that are easy to realize.
La mejor manera que un estudiante aprenda es ponerlo a trabajar con sus propias manos, los kits Boe Bot y Sumo Bot te permiten explorar esa posibilidad de una forma muy sencilla. El trabajar en la construcción de circuitos electrónicos, y posteriormente programarlos y ponerlos en ejecución es la mejor forma que el aprendizaje sea significativo y allí es donde todos debemos hacer un esfuerzo en lograrlo y utilizando la robótica es un medio ideal.
The best way to have the student learn is to have him/her take a hands-on approach, and these kits allow for that in a very simple way. This approach to building circuits and programming them and putting them into action is an effective way to have the student learn. We all must put in more effort in bringing robotics into a classroom since it creates an ideal environment for learning.
En Panamá se está empezando con pie firme la introducción de la robótica en las aulas escolares, y es esta herramienta la que en un futuro pueda revolucionar la forma en la que educamos a los estudiantes, haciéndolos más participativos en su propio aprendizaje y la robótica es ese camino.
Panama is starting to get a firm grasp in teaching students “Introduction to Robotics” in schools and it is a tool that will revolutionize the way in which we educate our students, since it makes them more willing participants in their own learning experience with robotics making this class and kits the way to the future.
Special thanks to Miguel Rodriguez of Parallax Inc for providing Spanish-to-English translations.
School: University of California San Diego
Location: La Jolla, CA
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: Hands-On Computing
The Hands-On Computing course introduces students to the basics of programming and wiring circuits to solve open-ended problems. Students use state machines to diagram out the operation of their robots and use this idealized version to compare to actual performance. The course covers variables, arrays, control flow, and functions. Throughout the course, students are also introduced to some key concepts in Cognitive Science and hear guest speakers doing current research in robotics. This course meets 3.5 hours a week for 10 weeks.
Having open ended problems where students can engineer their own solutions has made for an engaging class dynamic. Even a little bit of programming knowledge gets immediately translated into realizable robotic actions. Students participate in a robotic dance competition linking a song of their choice to robot movements. They work to solve a maze, one that has several possible paths, using any IR sensor configuration they choose. For the final project, they highlight what they’ve learned by using new sensors and programming novel behaviors.
There is also a collection of other sensors from Parallax that students have access to for use in their final projects.
I really appreciate the BOE Shield-Bot. It’s a fantastic tool to quickly engage students into learning programming. The additional lessons on the site give a very comprehensive tutorial for people who want to experiment with Arduino as well as develop a course of their own.
I would recommend constructing the robots ahead of time with helpers so that students can immediately make the robot move on day one. This makes the course, and programming in general, seem accessible to students. Every time you introduce a new programming concept, make it a key element for success in the next lab. Build and test the IR sensor configurations early as this has given the most issues for students. Bring in other faculty or graduate students to judge a robot competition. Connect the ideas in the course to current robotics research and other courses being offered at your institution.
School: 3rd General Lyceum of Patras
Location: Patras, Achaia, Greece
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class of lyceum ages: 16-18
My courses (Applications of Informatics, Communication Technology, Mathematics, Multimedia) have a lot of objectives that include both theory and practice. In theory level, students learn all about computers. They learn the history and the evolution of computers and other technological devices, the categories of software applications, the categories of commands that we use in programming languages, programming techniques, the use of functions and subroutines, and lot of algorithms: from very simple to very complicated. In practice level they use a lot of software but mostly Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Power Point). For multimedia we use Mit Scratch, Audacity, Movie Maker, Photostory, Photoshop, etc. To write code we don’t usually use any particular programming language.
We prefer to use simulations of programming environments that have the basic programming structures: sequence, selection, and repeat. Sometimes we also use flow charts in order to visualize an algorithm. Students learn what a microcontroller is in theory, as the official curriculum doesn’t have something about this topic. Last, but not least, is the “project” lesson. In this lesson students choose a free subject from math, technology, computer, art, literature history, etc. and they produce a “final product” about it (article, image, video, etc.).
The students and I are always passionate while working our projects. Parallax’s high-quality products plus our creativity and hard work is a recipe that has always led to success! Our projects have won a lot of awards in technological competitions and have also been published through several online portals:
1) Project “Smart photo-voltaic” 2008 Award ICE-HT
2) Project “Color sorter” 2010
3) Project “Speech Recognition Robot”
4) Project ” Ecclesiastic Symbols and Robotics”
I have used almost all of the Parallax microcontrollers and robots. Robot kits are ideal to perform a variety of activities like moving a certain distance, avoiding obstacles, navigating with IR, following a line, etc. Parallax robots are a fantastic educational tool with which to explain algorithms, and teach students the value of programming in the real world. I have also used several BASIC Stamp and Propeller boards, and many types of sensors in order to prototype robotic devices while working on projects with my students.
This is not easy to answer. Every product has its own “magic” and its own functionality. Color sensors can make amazing projects with colors. Servo controllers gives you the ability to manipulate servos and build amazing robotic structures. Emic2 gives you the opportunity to play with sound and the human speech. The powerful ActivityBot makes you the robotic overlord, and the S2 has an all-in-one compact chassis! I love them all! It is very difficult to choose only one!
Visit the Parallax Forums. It is the best place for brainstorming! You can ask a question and find a solution every time you face a difficulty, and you can also find ideas for your next project!
Be part of the Parallax family! I’m saying family and I’m really mean it. I strongly believe that people of Parallax (staff and customers) are a big family. Their staff always supports and helps you. Even the president, Ken Gracey, is always among the customers on Parallax forums; he asks for our opinions and feedback for product design, and is always giving generous offers and gifts! You don’t see it as only a company, you see the people behind the products. This is very important, especially if you are a person that works in education!
Here is my personal YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/NGYT40
My tutorial on Learn (for the ActivityBot): Regular Polygons and Circles
Samples of some of my videos with Parallax products (follow the link above for more):
School: Holy Trinity High School
Location: Chicago, IL
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: 11-12, Advanced Computers
This is a semester long course that meets 3 times per week for 47 minutes, and once per week for 90 minutes. We use the following textbooks by Andy Lindsay: Robotics with the Boe-Bot, Applied Robotics with the SumoBot, and the SumoBot manual, Robotic Joy.
Students are placed into teams of 3. Teams are given specific objectives with rewards for the first team to successfully complete each objective.
Students learn programming concepts from the Robotics with the Boe-Bot and Applied Robotics with the SumoBot texts. They prepare each of their robots to enter into a National SumoBot Competition in Ohio.
Students are engaged from day one as they set out to build their SumoBots. Students enjoy working in teams and competing against each other to accomplish tasks.
Students compete in the National Robotics Challenge (www.nationalroboticschallenge.org).
SumoBot Robot Kit
QTI, and IR sensors
The SumoBot is our favorite Parallax product. The SumoBot allows for all of the learning of the BoeBot platform, but is rugged and sturdy enough to give students a “cool” look that they are proud to brag about to their friends.
School: Arlington & Fairfax Public Schools: Adult and Community Education
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: Robotics 1, Robotics 2, Seminar for teachers on using Parallax kits
My students are adults looking for a hobby or to solve a specific problem. The primary objective is to nurture their interest in microcontrollers. The syllabus is available at the link below, but class time follows the students’ interest. Recently there was a request for soldering, so I brought my coffee can of irons and we put together S2 badges.
Robotics 1 “The Brain” covers most of What’s a Microcontroller?. Robotics 2 “The Body” covers the robot-specific topics for the Boe-Bot robot. Each course is 5 or 6 meetings of 3 hours in the evening.
A new course in development: Robotics 3 will cover serial and parallel input, the PING))) Ultrasonic Distance sensor, controlling higher power, rotary encoding and real time with the Dallas1302.
A key for working with adults is to listen to what they want to learn and then adjust the syllabus.
I keep talking to a minimum. I have condensed each concept down to a half dozen statements and drawings and then start them on activities.
I think it is important for adults to be able to ask me off-topic questions. While they do the activities I go around 1-on-1 to help. They quickly learn that is their opportunity to ask me anything. Last week a guy brought a servo contraption from his train layout and I worked with him on some tricky multi-servo control.
Another advantage of adults in our area is that they can afford to buy what they fancy. If my Ping))) Ultrasonic Distance Sensor is of interest to them, they will have one in hand next class.
Finally, it is sometimes hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Older adults don’t remember as well; I don’t get upset by it. Also they may have a mental model of a process and it is difficult to revise that for a micro-controller process. It takes patience and persistence; I try to have several ways to explain every concept. On the other hand some are retired engineers or technicians, so they are far more experienced than me in some topics.
Each student buys a Boe-Bot Robot kit and downloads the What’s a Microcontroller? text. Since the first course is basically What’s a Microcontroller?, I give them a 10k potentiometer and a 7-segment display w/resistors. I also have a tray of capacitors and resistors that they can take to expand their RCTime data set.
The Robotics 3 will use:
What’s A Microcontroller? and the Boe-Bot are the best two things that ever happened for hobbyists. The current special on both in one box is everything I could ask for.
My next favorite “product” is the Parallax forum site and support in general.
I’ve used a pack of Homework boards for two purposes. First, late registrants frequently don’t have the kit by first class so I can hand them a Homework board and couple of components to get through the first night. Second is that it is a drag to build and re-build circuits during class. So I pre-build demo circuits on Homework boards and line them up in class. At some point I’d like to solder up each activity on a separate perf board and have them ready to just place over the Board of Education breadboard and plug into the sockets of the Board of Education headers.
BoeBotTeacher.com has videos for tricky topics, mnemonics sheets and a puzzler.
When a component is “lost” check the bottom of students’ sneakers.
I have run “Parent and Student” courses where they both sign up and share a kit. Parents have appreciated a night out 1/week with their child. The students take pride in my complimenting them on their work in front of Mom or Dad. I gave this course once a few kilometers from the Canadian National Research Council. Four out of the six Dads were PhD’s in EE or Acoustics. I was a little nervous but they had great contributions and said it was a gas to do some simple, hands-on projects rather than their normal theoretical research.
Take advantage of the extra challenges at the end of chapters.
School: Trinidad State Junior College
Location: Trinidad, Colorado
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: Logic and Program Design, Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming
For the Logic and Program Design Course: This course introduces computer program design using concepts of structured programming and logic. This will include using pseudocode, flowcharts, and structure charts. The course will also cover variables, data types, control structures, looping, program breaks, and arrays. This course meets 3 hours a week for 16 weeks.
For the Intro Course: This course focuses on a general introduction to object-oriented programming by emphasizing the design and implementation of structured and logically correct programs with good documentation and focusing on basic programming concepts, including numbering systems, control structures, modularization, and data processing. This course meets three hours a week for 16 weeks.
The Boe-Bot gets them the most excited and keeps them engaged. The students then design and build their own robot to participate in the Robotics Challenge held at the Sand Dunes that is run by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. We have done very well there the last three years, thanks to Parallax and Andy Lindsay. Here is a Flickr feed with pictures.
The Boe-Bot because it is easy to teach, fun to learn and truly engages the students. All of your coursework is very well written and easy for the students to learn and understand even when they come into the course knowing nothing.
It is very helpful to have helpers while teaching this course because helping a student wire something or debugging a wiring problem or a program problem can take a bit of time and individual attention. However, teaching this course is very rewarding because of the level of engagement with the students. I’d highly recommend though, that any teacher do the course first and all the wiring and construction so that they will know firsthand where there might be issues.
I am thoroughly a Parallax person. The technical support is outstanding and has taken someone (me) who knew nothing about wiring/electronics etc to someone who feels competent teaching these courses. My only background was in programming although that was over 15 years ago. So, I enjoy Parallax products!
School: St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
Location: San Juan Capistrano, California
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: 11-12, Introduction to Engineering
The year-long course meets for 50-minute classes, 4 times a week for 30 weeks. We use the following textbooks by Andy Lindsay: Robotics with the Boe-Bot, Understanding Signals with the PropScope, IR Remote for the Boe-Bot, and What’s a Microcontroller.
The first semester is Boe-Bot assembly, programmed navigation, tactile navigation, light-sensitive navigation, IR Remote Controlled Boe-Bot, use PropScope to see Pulse Width Modulation and RC time curves, Controlling Motion of Standard Servos and assembly of the Gripper Kit for the Boe-Bot.
Second semester, the student teams will choose an engineering projects, such as animatronics, hovercraft propulsion, data transmitted from a launch of a G powered rocket, GPS navigated Boe-Bot with DC Motors, FIRST Tech Challenge Ring-It Up, etc.
The ELEV-8 quadcopter. It opens up more possibilities. I would like to see ways to make it safer for the students and programmable. I do like that it can be expanded to make octa design. I would like to see the kit for the tri-hexa configuration.
School: Yanbu International School
Location: Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah, Saudi Arabia
Grade level(s) or classroom focus: 9-12
Our learning objectives were modest: we (and the parents!) wanted the Middle and High School students at our small school to have an introduction to programming. The Parallax Boe-Bot kits were a perfect solution for us because they are affordable for small budgets, easy for non-computer science teachers (like me!) to learn and teach, fun for the students, and challenging enough for them to stay involved and learning.
Probably the most important element for learning was the reflection piece; each student was required to write a personal blog post describing what happened each day of class, including challenges and discoveries. Reading these blogs allowed me to be current with each student’s level of understanding and suggest remediation activities when necessary. Plus, the blogs made for some entertaining reading and, since there was a range of ability in students’ abilities to write programs and build circuits, the blogs provided a fair way to assess them.
Some of the best ones are linked here:
The students stayed involved in the robotics unit right up to the end; the robotics classes were distinguished by a high degree of student engagement and lots of laughter. Being the creative beings they are, they often came up with solutions I hadn’t thought of; for example, attaching a smart phone to the Boe-Bot chassis to record a video of the robot’s journey and then posting the result to YouTube!
I created a 32 hour robotics unit for ninth graders based on “What’s a Microcontroller?” and “Robotics for the Boe-Bot”, Andy Lindsay’s excellent texts. Based on my previous robotics teaching experience I went through these books in order and selected the sections that I thought the students could be successful at. I also wanted to ensure that they stayed motivated and involved, so I created various kinds of achievable “challenges” for practice and assessment.