Posts Tagged ‘LEGO NXT’

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 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!

NXT Record Player by Great Minds Robotics

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Students of Great Minds Robotics in Tarzana, California recently built and programmed this awesome NXT Record Player:

(See other cool projects – check out the video section)

Students learned about gear ratios (we used gears to reduce motor speed and noise), conditional statements (if the color sensor finds a red LEGO piece, it plays music; else, the program exits), loops, and other programming techniques. They wrote a few versions of the program, depending on their level (beginners wrote simpler programs, more advanced students wrote more complex versions). Some students tried playing different music depending on the color of the LEGO “music chip”. It was a ton of fun, and lots of learning in the process.

This project was primarily targeted at students in our Robotics program ages 6 – 8. See it in person – schedule your FREE VIP Tour today!

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.

“Spying” on Madrid from space

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Great Minds Robotics students program a LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT robot to interface with a NASA website and request a picture of Spain from orbit

We admit that Madrid is not really a secret location. However, we couldn’t help but feel a bit like international spies. Seriously, we told our robot to get intel from space.

Our Enhanced Robotics students built this robot and programmed the NXT Intelligent Brick to give coordinates to NASA’s ISS EarthKAM website. The data went from there to Mission Control at UCSD. From that point it got sent to the International Space Station (ISS) as a photo request.

Many of our requests were carried out!! The ISS took pictures of Madrid and many other places around the globe! We got to view and download our photos via the EarthKAM site.

Watch the video to see our robot get all “Secret Agent Man”.

Remember, we weren’t really pointing at the International Space Station or secretly hacking the website. But, hey, it was fun to make our project look cool while automatically typing data into the internet (which is a pretty cool thing all on its own).

All robotic movement was strictly for show. Students programmed the antenna to look as if it was aiming a signal into space. It was timed to match the NXT Brick’s interface with the website. If you missed it, look again to see the letters and numbers appear in the website data fields.

This project was developed by our older students for use in the Enhanced Robotics Lab.

You can also watch this video on our Videos page.

To get an even closer look at our learning center and meet us in-person, schedule a FREE VIP tour.

Solar powered car chargers

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Here’s your chance to see new technology and how we teach at Great Minds Robotics

Picture yourself driving an electric sports car up the PCH. A quick glance at the dash says you’ve got about 50% charge. Sunlight flashing off an object ahead grabs your attention. It’s an intelligent, solar-powered charging station. You pull up next to it. Blinking blue lights agree with your gauge. Your car could use some juice. The station greets you by name and offers you a full charge in 3 minutes, 42 seconds. All you have to do is say yes and plug your vehicle in. The best part is that your charge is courtesy of the sun!

Sounds cool and futuristic, right? Turns out that your kids can experience this cool future now at Great Minds Robotics. Watch the video of this emerging technology recreated with Lego® Mindstorms NXT. This all happens right in our classrooms. Students learn to understand and then write the program for the charging station.

Solar powered car chargers. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Color-coded charge indication. These are just a few of the awesome things that happen when great minds go to work.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to attend one of our classes, take some time to watch the video. Compare our instruction style between the younger and older children. We adjust our teaching to match the age and ability of our students.

You can also watch this video on our Videos page. To get an even closer look at our learning center and meet us in-person, schedule a FREE VIP tour.

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!

Robotics for Kids: Inspiration for Innovation

Friday, February 11th, 2011

As I take notes on my students’ progress after teaching a typical Enhanced Robotics class at Great Minds Learning Center, I can’t help but smile. The students had a ton of fun. They built awesome robots and played with them. They noticed some “bugs” in mechanics and programming of their robots, and came up with amazing improvements. They made corrections, and played some more. As the class wrapped up, they did not want to leave. It was definitely fun. Yet, there is something far beyond playing with these awesome toys… I reminisced my own childhood, my commencement into the world robotics.

I always liked robots. I thought of robots as highly intelligent “human helpers” – not better or smarter than humans – after all, It’s humans that engineer and program them – but certainly more suited for a particular task. When I thought “robot”, I thought of Lt. Commander Data, an android from Star Trek, or the ever-helpful, super resourceful R2-D2 from Star Wars. I thought of Isaac Asimov, not “The Terminator”. I started learning computer programming at age 11, and given my fascination with robots, it was simply natural for me to get involved in robotics. After examining several platforms, I settled on LEGO Mindstorms as my platform of choice. Some years later, Great Minds Learning Center and Great Minds Robotics program were born.

I am thrilled and excited beyond expression to see the recent developments in the world of robotics. I see students at our center that are likely to be a part of, if not the leaders of, amazing robotics projects in the not-so-distant future. Projects like NASA’s ATHLETE:

… which, by the way, can also dance:

Projects like uBot-5, a personal assistant for the elderly:

Quite possibly, our students can be a significant part of projects that will place a robot into your home in the not-so-distant future. Check out the awesome work by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal of MIT:

Projects like these require knowledge and innovation. Here at Great Minds Learning Center, kids in grades K-12 engineer and program awesome robots every day. They find original solutions to various challenges they encounter while building and programming their creations. They learn valuable skills while playing with really cool robots. They have fun while expanding their knowledge.

Inspire your child to innovate. Enroll them into Great Minds Robotics today!

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!