Posts Tagged ‘mechanical engineering’

Great Minds Robotics® first-year VEX IQ Team 10700 “IQ Cubed” ranks 15th in the VEX Worlds 2015 Programming Skills, Middle School Division

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

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We just got back from VEX World 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky – what an awesome event! Top robotics teams from around the world, grouped into 5 divisions, compete to win awards in various categories. A grand total of 850 teams were present in this year’s event. Additionally cool demonstrations were arranged: top minds in robotics and programming were invited to present their creations for the VEX IQ division; new products were unveiled; and last, but certainly not least, the 2015-2016 VEX IQ and VEX Robotics Challenges were unveiled at this event. It’s such an amazing, high-energy, one-of-a-kind experience, that no blog post (that I can write, at least) can do it justice. You just have to go and experience it for yourself! Make sure to educate yourself on VEX IQ and VEX Robotics Challenge rules to really enjoy the experience.

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We met quite a number of great teams and super-smart kids, and learned a lot from this experience. It was inspiring and educational to see the various brilliant designs and innovative programming solutions, STEM Research Projects, and to exchange knowledge with team members from around the globe. We are eager to implement much of what we learned into our next year’s designs.

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Our team did really well for their first year. Although we did not get into finals (only 32 teams in our division, of 105, made it to the finals), we did rank #15 in Programming Skills. Not too shabby for a first-year team! We’ll do better next year – our team is already hard at work, engineering the robot for the new challenge. We are also adding two more VEX IQ teams, and they’ll be working away on their robot designs very shortly as well.

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From Great Minds Robotics – congratulations to ALL teams who made it to VEX World 2015, and congratulations to the Champions! We’ll see you all again next year at VEX Worlds 2016!

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?

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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.

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!

LEGO Creations – Reconstruction of the World’s Earliest Computer

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

I just read this amazing article on MIT’s “Mims’s Bits” Technology Review blog, about an Apple engineer recreating an ancient Greek device – a mechanical computer, called the “Antikythera” mechanism. It was built over 2100 years ago (100 BC), and discovered in a shipwreck in 1901. This discovery was re-constructed; the LEGO design built by the Apple engineer is based on this reconstruction. It works by using precise gears, meshed in a particular way to perform mathematic calculations. Both the original device and the LEGO replica accurately preduct… solar eclipses!

Check out the original article here.

Great Minds Robotics students have not built an ancient Greek mechanical computer [yet]; but they do build and program plenty of cool and exciting projects in our classes and labs. Check out our Enhanced Robotics Curriculum for details!

Want to improve your LEGO building skills, so you too can make awesome LEGO creations? If you are a Great Minds Robotics student, join our LEGO workshop [or mini-workshop] on December 26 (check our schedule for details). Not a student yet? Sign up today!

Great Minds Robotics extends Workshop and Mini-Workshop hours

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Workshops that improve building skills

Here’s something value-added that we give away for free. All students enrolled in Robotics or Enhanced Robotics classes can attend a skill-building workshop focused on mechanical engineering. We provide LEGO® Technic sets full of gears, levers, and more. Your child provides the desire and excitement that makes everything we do here worthwhile. Robotics Class Mini-Workshops and Enhanced Robotics Class Workshops are held once a month.

Starting October 2010, we are increasing the duration of our workshops:

  • Mini-Workshop: from 90 minutes to 2 hours
  • Workshop: from 2 hours to 3 hours

Scheduled workshops:

  • Mini-Workshop: Sunday, Oct 24, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
  • Workshop: Sunday, Oct 24, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

If you are already enrolled in one of our robotics programs, please register for the upcoming workshop by October 23, 2010. If you are not yet enrolled, call us at 818-292-8008 to schedule a FREE VIP Tour.