Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

Hello, World!

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Great Minds Robotics team, IQ Cubed, will be participating in the 2015 VEX IQ World Championship Middle School Division event; this takes place April 15-18 in Louisville, Kentucky. They have been selected as one of the 180 of over 2,400 registered teams to compete!

As you might recall, this year we took part in our very first VEX IQ competition. Our team, “IQ Cubed”, competed in a qualifying event on January 24th and took home the top award for that competition. The team qualified to participate at the Southern California VEX IQ State Tournament on Valentine’s day and earned a Build Award. IQ Cubed is currently ranked in the top 10 teams in California for both the Robot Skills and Programming Skills categories (VEX IQ Middle School Division).

I won’t be able to attend the World event myself, however, I’ll stay on top of all updates and make sure you stay in the loop too. I wish our team the best of luck! Make sure to follow up on future blog posts and our social media sites (like Facebook or Twitter) for all of our updates.

We are very proud of our team! Keep up the great work guys!

VEXIQcollage

Sierra Canyon High School Spends “Peak Week” at Great Minds Robotics®

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Once a year, Sierra Canyon’s High School students go on an exciting and educational excursion to all sorts of cool places. This year, a group of 13 students spent their “Peak Week” learning robotics and programming with us at Great Minds Robotics®.

The camp-style excursion turned out fantastic! Not only did these students have a ton of fun, but they also got to experience a “sampler platter” of technologies and programming languages that we offer. The students first started with RobotC and Virtual Worlds; they then built and programmed LEGO NXT robots to solve autonomous challenges on our purpose-built practice tables. With the guide of our knowledgeable instructors, the students added remote controls and Bluetooth communications to their RobotC programs.

Programming is an integral part of robotics; at times it can require multiple programming languages to solve a challenge. We introduced these students to a few languages during peak week. In addition to RobotC, they were also welcomed to C# – our language of choice. The students wrote a few simple programs in C#, after which we demonstrated a number of more advanced projects that use RobotC, C#, and C++. They got to see a working demo of our SkyBase (our “giant” as mentioned in the previous blog) play tic-tac-toe! Later on they watched our drone take an aerial tour around GMR. Our guests also got an intro course to Arduino (our favorite Open Source electronics board), wired up a few RGB LEDs, and programmed their boards in C++. We also demonstrated an Arduino-controlled robot built from LEGO Technic!

The week ended with a team-based competition of our own. Students grouped into teams and competed in our custom-designed game on the VEX IQ Live Table. Pretty productive week, huh?

SierraCanyonCollage

Camps, Competitions, and Projects, Oh My!

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Hello everyone! My name is Kristina, and I am a Lead Instructor here at Great Minds Robotics®. I have recently been appointed as the new GMR Blogger; after reviewing the blog I realized how much has happened since the last post! Let’s do a quick recap, shall we?

  • Our winter camp, “RoboSynergy: Trains++”, wrapped up a few weeks ago. Students designed, built, and programmed a sophisticated Train Control System powered by Arduino microcontrollers, using languages and technologies such as C++, C#, Web Services, wireless communication, and more. Phase II was right on track; boarding for Phase III will begin shortly. Don’t miss out, get on-board!
  • GMR Train Ticket

  • SkyBase, our “giant metal robot” as called by most of our students, recently got an upgrade. Last summer our students programmed this robot to play tic-tac-toe on the SmartBoard using RobotC and C# languages. That was fun, but watching the robot move across its 18’ beam and up/down to the right position autonomously was a bit…well, boring. So, we built an Arduino sensor that allowed us to move this robot with an Xbox 360 controller. Suddenly, the tic-tac-toe game became a lot more fun! We liked the outcome so much, we plan to do more cool stuff using Arduino and Xbox 360 controllers with our Skybase this upcoming 2015 RoboSynergy summer camp.
  • The “Game of Drones” is an interactive project that allows us to control a quadrocopter using an Xbox 360 / PS4 controller. We are able to receive a live video feed from the Parrot AR Drone and display it on screen in a student-written C# program. The objective of the game is to knock down the three defense towers set up around the 8’x8’ game table and land on the center landing pad before the opposing team shoots your drone down with a LEGO NXT Photon Cannon! Throughout the game you can see live updates on the SmartBoard, which receives real-time info from the sensors in the defense towers and on the landing pad, each connected to an EV3 microcontroller. Check out this video from our 2014 summer camp!
  • DroneWithLogo

  • The 2014-2015 Robotics competition season is going great for our teams. FLL teamsEduTech” and “Autobots 2.0” won 1st place at their respective Qualifying Tournaments, and had a stellar performance at the Los Angeles Regional Championship Tournament. Team “Autobots 2.0” emerged as the Champions for Los Angeles Region, and advanced to North America Open Tournament in LEGOLAND, California, which takes place mid-May 2015. This year we also competed in our very first VEX IQ competition. Team “IQ Cubed” took home the top award at that event and advanced to the Southern California VEX IQ State Tournament. We will be showing our love for the team on February 14th in Pasadena, California. For more details on these events check out our Facebook page!
  • Thanks for reading! Keep checking in for more frequent updates. That’s all for now!

Great Minds Robotics GameDev Summer Camp coming June 2014!

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Ready to program an awesome computer game this summer? Sign up for our GameDev camp today!

Ready to program an awesome computer game this summer? Sign up for our GameDev camp today!

You’ve been a student at Great Minds Robotics for a while now. You started by building simple robots, and programmed them with a visual language, or perhaps some light C code. You solved missions on practice tables, and completed challenges in emulators, such as RobotC Virtual Worlds. You’ve done a bit of C# and Java in our “Intro to Object Oriented Programming” classes. You wrote madlibs, guessing games, calculators, learned about variable types, arrays and sorting algorithms. You worked with simple graphics and the Cartesian coordinate system (x-y coordinates), created bouncing bubbles, objects that react to mouse clicks, buttons that run away as you try to click them, and other little programs.

Perhaps you are at the “Object Oriented Programming” level, and understand classes, inheritance and polymorphism. Perhaps you’re even further along, and have already built a few simple games using C# and XNA framework, or Java and LibGdx framework – stuff like “Alien Attack”, “Pong”, “Brick Breaker”, or a Tetris clone.

Let us show you how to apply all that knowledge to a real-world style project – writing a computer game from the ground up as part of our development team! We’ll make a version for Windows PC first (Visual Studio: C# and XNA framework), and if time allows, we’ll make an Android version (Eclipse/IntelliJ: Java and LibGdx framework). We’ll teach you how to deploy a game to our Xbox 360, and how to debug Xbox-specific features. You’ll work with source control system and issue tracker (GitHub), and participate in team meetings. You’ll learn about using professional tools and techniques, like performance profilers, unit tests, and UML class designers. It’s an experience unlike any other, and is only possible in our GameDev camp.

Now, a quick disclaimer – we’re not building the next “Halo” or “Call of Duty” here – it will be a game that you – our students – can develop over the course of our Summer Camp. Our goal is to advance your knowledge of computer programming to the next level – and to complete the game in the process.

NEW THIS YEAR:
– Custom game graphics featuring one of our own labs and a number of our instructors!
– Introduction to performance profiling using JetBrains dotTrace Profiler.
– Introduction to unit testing using NUnit / JUnit
– Introduction to UML class diagrams using NClass

Mini-Lectures

Mini-lectures are a big part of learning in our summer camps. There is a new lecture every week. Here is a sneak preview of a mini-lecture:

Mini-Lecture sneak peak

Mini-Lecture sneak peak

This year’s GameDev camp project requires some very specific techniques for drawing images to the screen in the correct order. To teach this concept, we will dissect an image into logical layers and visually demonstrate how to correctly place game characters and objects on the screen in various positions, and how to re-position them as they navigate their way around the playing field. Of course, there will be code examples and time to practice the techniques.

Sign up for our awesome GameDev camp today! Starts June 9, 2014. See schedule for details.

Great Minds Robotics FLL Teams move up to LA Regional Championship; Incaendium wins 1st Place Champion’s Award at Qualifying Tournament.

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Congratulations to our fantastic FIRST LEGO League teams – we are extremely proud of you! All 3 teams qualified to compete in the Los Angeles Regional Championship Tournament, and all 3 teams received meaningful awards for their hard work. We are especially proud of Team 408 – Incaendium – an all-girls, first-year team, winning the prestigious 1st Place Champion’s Award at the Qualifying Tournament! To put our teams’ performance in perspective – this season, there are 11 Qualifying Tournaments in the Los Angeles region, with 292 teams competing; only 88 teams qualify to continue competing in this season’s Championship Tournament, and only 11 teams are awarded the Champion’s Award.

Excellent job, Team Incaendium, Team Faultline, and Team Autobots! Big “Thank You”s to all parent volunteers and to our team mentors, Brian and Jesse!

Self-Driving Race Trucks! Spring Camp! April 2nd-6th, 2012

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Get your kids involved in TEAM-BASED engineering and programming that works in the real world. It’s different from regular classes and just as fun.

Camp is meant for kids who already go to class here, but anyone can sign up. There are three sessions per day. Your child can go to one, two, or all of them every day of the week

Call 818.292.8008 and sign up for the Great Minds Robotics 2012 Spring Camp today.

April second through the sixth promises to be one exciting and educational week. Engineers and programmers of all ages will work together to build, program and drive some awesome LEGO Race Trucks.

It’s more than just assembling a kit. Students are going to build and upgrade trucks with motors, gears, and sensors. Then they’ll program the vehicles to drive themselves and accept commands from a remote control.

Here’s how we set up the camp

Check out this little preview.

The photos are from the 2012 Spring Camp planning sessions. We started with LEGO Technic Limited Edition Set #8041 Race Trucks, some NXTSumoEyes sensors, and a few LEGO NXT bricks, motors, and gears.
Race Truck Sumo Eyes
After that, Chris E., captain of The A-Team of FLL fame, added the pieces to NXTify it as only a Great Minds Learning Center student can. Look at the truck on the left in the photo below. You can see that the stock, display-only drivetrain was removed and replaced with an NXT brick and motor.
NXTified powertrain
Then Alex M., engineer extraordinaire, determined the best way to install the advanced NXTSumoEyes sensor. See him at work here…
Alex M prototyping sensor placement on a Race Truck
All this results in an awesome-looking, remote-controlled, self-propelled truck that can see and react to obstacles. Check it out on the right in the following picture…
Race trucks - stock and NXTified

Chris and Alex put a lot of work into preparing the camp so other students can have a lot of fun.

This is what your kids get to do

Everyone who comes to the Great Minds Robotics 2012 Spring Camp gets to have fun while building, engineering, or programming. We’ve made sure that there’s something for every age group and skill specialty. What’s awesome is that this, like everything else we teach, gives your child a taste of real-world technological challenges and a chance to digest them with critical thinking.

This time we’re learning about technology that lets cars do everything from taking over control in an emergency to racing around a parking lot with no driver input at all.

We promise to keep your kids inside the building, but we can’t promise they won’t have too much fun. The week ends with students competing in a Race Truck Relay! The challenge will be to drive from one end of the course to the other without touching any moving obstacles.

To get a detailed picture of what goes on at camp, check out this jam-packed plan for day one…

Sessions 1, 2, and 3: Build the Trucks, Brainstorm the Required Programming:

  • Builders K-2 (Green/Purple classes) will put together the race trucks using original LEGO instructions.
  • Builders 3-8 (Red classes) will build moving obstacles designed at Great Minds Robotics using LEGO Digital Designer instructions. They’ll then free-build cool covers to make these moving walls look like,  uhm…  moving walls.
  • Advanced Builders (Blue classes) will discuss options for converting the race trucks to robots. They’ll also talk about the Race Control System for the relay race. Students will look at the pros and cons of detection using Lasers vs Touch Sensors vs UltraSonic Sensors. We’ll also plan remote control overriding to prevent cheating… wait… umm… untimely relay race starts!
  • Programmers 3-8 (Red classes) will be introduced to remote control communication protocols like Bluetooth technology. They’ll compare Infra-Red and Ultra-Sonic sensors to determine the best object detection methods. Sensor resolution is covered. Students will also write simple test programs to send commands remotely.
  • Advanced Programmers (Blue classes) will work on the actual RobotC framework running the final race. Specifically, Finite State Machine (FSM) behavioral model and Distributed Application Development via wireless communications will be discussed and tested. Also, Bluetooth vs. XBee vs. WiFi will be considered.

Pricing

There are three 90 minute sessions per day. They start at 10:00 am, 11:30 am, and 1:00 pm. The cost to attend one is $37.50.

Get a discount! Purchase all three sessions in one day for just $100.

Your child can attend anywhere from one session to all fifteen.

Call 818.292.8008 to sign up now.

Read more about self-driving vehicles.

The A-TEAM scores big at FLL 2011

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Great Minds Robotics students get high score at the Blockhead 2011 FLL Food Factor Challenge Los Angeles Region Qualifier.

Our FIRST® LEGO® League competitors, The A-TEAM, planned, put together, and programmed their way to the highest score of the day at La Cañada High School’s Blockhead qualifier.

Watch the video to see the action.

That footage came from a special single elimination tournament: The Food Fight. Great Minds Learning Center’s The A-TEAM gained entry by earning an official top four score for the day. But qualifying was only one thing. Winning was something else entirely.

Single elimination tournaments are kinda tough. If you don’t score higher than your opponent, you’re out. Our students had to execute two winning excursions in a row. Fortunately, this competition was fun because official judging for FLL had already ended.

It turns out that The A-TEAM earned high score of the entire day in the final round of the Food Fight Tournament. They won!

Here’s the cool secret to their success: it was all expertly planned ahead.

If you’re new to FLL and robotics, our announcer forgot to mention this during his commentary: The robot you saw was not remote controlled. It was programmed ahead of time by our students to do those tasks on its own.

That kind of programming is one of many things we teach. Children enrolled here are taught how to plan, prepare and compete on their own. This works for FLL because adult coaches and instructors can only advise. They’re not allowed to design the robots or write the programs. It’s up to the kids to do that themselves.

Our instruction also works for life. We teach our students to think critically when solving a problem (and we do it in a fun and exciting way). The reward for this is more than just one solution; it’s the skills needed to find many solutions.

If you’re local to Tarzana, California and want to learn more of what we’re about, schedule a FREE VIP tour. There’s no obligation or pressure to enroll. We’re not into that.

If you take the tour and like what you see, but aren’t yet certain you should sign up, we even offer one-on-one trial classes. They’re only $50 and the money you invest can be put toward your child’s first month of classes.

Not every Great Minds Robotics student can make the FLL team, but all of them get the level of instruction and attention they need to help make it in life.

Hope to see you here.

Great Minds Robotics is forming FLL Teams for 2011 Food Factor Challenge. Apply Now!

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Students of ages 9 through 14 are invited to apply for this year’s FIRST LEGO League competition. Applications are available to enrolled students at Great Minds Robotics location in Tarzana, CA.

We updated our FAQ section based on recent questions from our students and their parents. Please review this section, as it may answer many questions you might have about the FLL competition. Of course, if you don’t see an answer to your question, please contact us – we’ll be sure to address it.

While we do not have a schedule for training sessions yet, we plan to have a number of sessions in the summer, and weekly sessions starting September 2011. We will post the schedule as soon as we have it.

Check out this blog entry from last year’s FLL event for in-depth understanding of what FLL competitions entail, the challenges the kids have to overcome, and the awesome rewards our team earned last year.

Not yet a student at Great Minds Robotics? Give your son or daughter an opportunity to shine as they contribute to their team’s success. Enroll today!

Know someone else who might be interested? Refer a friend and we’ll be sure to thank you!

Classes are filling up

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Enroll today to guarantee spots for your kids at Great Minds Robotics

Seats are filling up fast because we’re running a special offer from now until May 15th, 2011.
Classes are filling up
Save $35 on your child’s first four weeks of classes by printing and presenting this PDF (you may have already seen it as a postcard in your mailbox).

The PDF and postcard are for only new parents and students. However, we are not leaving out our loyal customers. If you have already enrolled your kids at Great Minds Robotics, you can get a $35 reward for every student enrolled by friends that you refer.

Come to think of it, that reward should go to anyone who makes a referral resulting in enrollment. If you know someone with kids that are into what we do here, please use our referral form to tell them about us.

Happy New Year from Great Minds Learning Center!

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Launched in December 2009, Great Minds Learning Center wraps up its first full year of operation – 2010. Our students build many cool robots, and some very exciting robotic projects, such as the RoboGarage, and a Giant Ferris Wheel. Robotics and Enhanced Robotics students participated in exciting competitions, such a Medieval Robotics Competition and FLL Tournaments. Our FIRST LEGO League team – The NXT Generation – even got as far as Los Angeles Championship event, as one of only 40 teams [out of about 1,400 in the LA region]. We wrapped up the FLL season by winning the Quality Design Award for our robot at the Championship event:

With many new and exciting projects in store for 2011, we are very excited about our program for the upcoming year. We will be exploring green energy, such as solar and wind power. We will be making exciting games involving multiple robots. We will… give you more details in 2011. Enroll today to be a part of our exciting program in the upcoming year.

Want to learn how to build cool robots and compete with others in fierce, yet fun, tournaments? We are going to run two FLL teams for 2011’s Food Factor challenge – and we are looking for new team members now! Enroll today!

Happy New Year!