What are people saying about CUBELETS, the new robotic teaching aid from start-up Modular Robotics (a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University, with funding from the National Science Foundation)? Time Magazine called them “one of the most interesting and accessible robots on the market today... a great way to teach kids about how robots work without actually having to solder or know anything about programming.”
Online magazine MakerShed, the magazine of do-it-yourself (DIY) digital projects, says “...we love Cubelets! These magnetic robot building blocks snap together and don’t require any programming, making it easy for anyone to build their own robotic creation. What could be more fun?”
Mr Jaravata gets it! Engagement is the key to learning. Nothing engages kids like robots! And CUBELETS are engaging robots from which young kids can both enjoy and learn.
Fred Jaravata is a San Francisco Bay area educator who realizes that robots are the way to kids' minds.
According to his blog post ‘Our Students Playing With Cubelets,’ he recently decided to try CUBELETS after a period of working with Lego Mindstorm. He didn’t tell the kids much about the cubes he was giving them and kept directions to a minimum; he wanted to see what would happen naturally.
For those of you not familiar with CUBELETS, every cube has a different function. Some move the robot, some sense temperature or distance, some act like a flashlight. The cubes snap together magnetically and the trick is to snap them together in a fashion that forms an autonomous robot capable of movement in tune with its environment as indicated by its sensors. Kids have made everything from slithering snakes to writing robots with them.
Hey! Here is some good news: the Japanese government thinks it has to play catch-up to the United States in at least one area of manufacturing technology, 3D printers. After a lifetime of hearing about the supposed superiority of Japan in all things manufacturing--I’m driving a Subaru; how about you?--it’s great at last to find something about American manufacturing worth emulating.
Even more important, it’s great to realize that we Americans are doing something right in our schools--intending to furnish every single one of them with 3D printers. The determinative word in that last phrase is “intending;” we still have a long way to go before we can claim victory.
This wonderful new technology, as President Obama said in his 2013 State of the Union speech, “... has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. The next industrial revolution in manufacturing will happen in America.” Of course the Japanese would prefer that the revolution start there!
Math teachers, science teachers and engineering teachers, are you looking for a way to make your beloved disciplines more relevant to your students? Maybe even inspire a few to love them the way you do? Well, right now there is affordable new technology out there that can help you do just that! The Makerbot 3D printer and STEM BOT 3D CLASS from our own RobotsLAB.
StemBot 3D program that teaches students how to 3D print a robot, assemble it, work on the electronics, and finally program it.
Actually, 3D printers have been around since the 1980’s, but they were massive and super-expensive like the first-generation computers. Only in the last few years have they shrunk in size and dropped in price to where individual households and schools could afford them.
Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA – March 6, 2014 - A handpicked group of distinguished judges representing a cross section of in business, technology and education experts have selected RobotsLAB BOX as the winner of the LAUNCHedu Competition.
The competition began in August 2013 with approximately eighty applications. RobotsLAB was one of ten finalists chosen by the judges to present at SXSWedu on March 3. Following that presentation, RobotsLAB was one of three companies to be selected as a finalist. The final presentation was made in front of judges and a jam-packed room of educators on the morning of March 5. As part of the Educator Insights panel that discussed all ten competing companies, all three panelists cited RobotsLAB BOX as their favorite.
Based on the votes of attendees and judges, RobotsLAB BOX was ultimately chosen as the competition winner at the LAUNCHedu party on March 5. Betsy Corcoran, CEO and Co-Founder of EdSurge presented the award to RobotsLAB CEO Elad Inbar.
Of course the first answer to the question posited by the title of this piece is a facetious one--lots of money! So let us qualify the question a bit more by asking, "What are 5 tools everyone in the educational robotics industry should be using that most of us in the industry can afford?"
Since learning to code is so important to any STEM discipline, the first tool everyone in the educational robotics industry should be using is the online community and programming language called Scratch. This innovative site helps kids learn its namesake programming language and create interactive stories, games and computer animations. This outstanding tool is actually free!
Since math is basic to any scientific endeavor, the ability to interest and engage students in math is crucial to the educational robotics industry. Our second tool that everyone in the industry should be using, the RobotsLAB BOX, has proved its ability to interest and engage kids in math with an innovative combination of robots and tablets in many progressive school districts. The old teaching standbys like the book and the whiteboard can’t compete with "cool" robot helicopters demonstrating quadratic equations in real-time on a tablet.
Judging from the number of e-gadget users in this country, technology is all the rage. Over 90% of adults have a cell phone. Thirty-four percent (34%) own a tablet. And no one doubts that the percentages will continue to rise. One might also be forgiven for thinking our schools are up to the job of graduating the vast numbers of science, technology, engineering and math students needed to keep this country in the forefront of this technology wave--the interest is obviously there. Unfortunately that is not the case!
By 2018--now less than 4 years and a single generation of high school students away--we are expecting at least 8 million jobs in the US dependent on skills learned in STEM learning courses. But experts estimate that less than five million of those jobs will go to kids from American schools, with three million or more of these well-paid positions going to foreign applicants.
Why is this happening? Why can’t our schools keep up with the demand for young people trained in science, technology, engineering and math? Well as you might expect there are all sorts of excuses for this, from lack of funding to a lack of interest in STEM learning on the part of students themselves. We at RobotsLAB can’t do much about the funding issue; that requires political action. What we can do is help change the culture of math education.
It makes me proud as an expatriate Texan to find that the state of Texas is one of those states that realizes STEM learning is important and is doing something to ensure that its students meet the educational requirements of the new millennium in science, technology, engineering and math.
The Vex competition at Roosevelt high school in San Antonio is a good example.
One of the teams in the event sponsored by the U.S Army was a Vex team from an all-girls robotics club at the school.
So seriously does the state of Texas view these competition that recently the Texas Workforce Commission funded a startup grant to help 400 new Vex robotics teams in Texas.
Sounds like a lot of teams, does it?
Well countrywide 9000 Vex robotics teams are expected to compete in the USA this year.
Texas intends to have its share.
If you find yourself wondering what a Vex robotics team is, the VEX Robotics Design System is centered around the VEX Clawbot Kit.
The Clawbot is similar to the LEGO NXT in that assembly and disassembly is made simple with assorted pieces easily fitted together.
Some say that the Clawbot is cheaper.