Posts Tagged ‘robotics’

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!

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!

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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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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!
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  • 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!

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.

“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.

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!