This upcoming Wednesday, February 21 will mark Session Five in this semester's Bits & Bots program. While we had to cancel our Session Two on January 31, volunteers have been making great progress through our coding curriculum with a total of three sessions completed since January. Upon our return to the Grove Hall Site of the Boston Public Library this year B&B volunteers were greeted by both old and new faces. Our volunteers this semester include some newer B&B members who were super excited to interact with the students. Averaging about ten students a week, this semester's program has been going smoothly with students successfully completing Lessons 1-3.
Using the curriculum plan we formed in Fall 2017 B&B volunteers guided students through the introductory lessons on how to move their robots. Lessons 1 and 2 focused on using the steering block to move robots around with the ultimate goal of making the bot draw a shape. Lesson 3, taught last Wednesday (happy belated Valentine's Day!), introduced students to the concept of 'looping.' Students were asked to build a program using sound and wait blocks to create a sound pattern that the robots would be able to repeat.
As B&B continues moving through the semester we'll be updating the blog, so come back soon!
Happy 2018! We last left you on Halloween with summaries of many of our October sessions. The Fall 2017 Program concluded on November 15 with a super fun Session Eight that included a little competition. B&B volunteers guided students through a lesson entitled 'Trash in the Yard' in which students worked on teams to build and program their bots for a tournament. This 'Trash in the Yard' competition had students using their bots to push pieces of "trash" (paper cups) across the floor into the territory of the opposing team. Each round was 90 seconds long and points were awarded based on how much trash was left in each team's yard.
Following our final Fall session, the Bits & Bots team had a few weeks off for finals and winter break but with school starting up again we're ready for the start of our Spring 2018 Program. The team had it's first meeting of the year last Tuesday and plan to meet again tomorrow night to finalize the Spring 2018 schedule and talk curriculum. This semester sadly marks the last for many long-term B&B team members who will graduate from Northeastern in May. We will be sad to see them go, but are excited to see younger members take on new roles and responsibilities. If you're interested in joining us please visit our 'CONTACT' tab and check out who we are on the ever-growing 'TEAM' page. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming information about our first session!
Happy MLK Day!
With just over half the Fall Program lessons done, Bits & Bots is already looking ahead to the new year when our Spring 2018 Program will begin. As we continue to expand our group and welcome new members, the Curriculum Team has been working hard to come up with new and exciting activities for the students. Before we reach the end of the semester with our final session taking place on Wednesday, November 8 at the Grove Hall Site of the Boston Public Library, we wanted to share what went on during Sessions Three, Four, and Five:
Session Three - Loops
Some say repetition can be boring, but they haven't experienced it B&B style! The October 11 session was dedicated to teaching students about loops. Our volunteers walked students through building a program that used the loop block to make the robots repeat a certain action. Using the sound and loop blocks, the robots were programmed to repeat a chosen tone. Later, students added wait and move steering blocks to have their bots repeat sounds at specific time intervals while the bot moves around.
Session Four - Push to Move
Lesson Four was all about buttons. Students learned how to make their robots move differently depending on which buttons are pressed. By programming the Brick Buttons to match specific movements, students were able to use move steering blocks to to pick which directions their bots should move. This session ended with a mock race that asked students to successfully use their programmed buttons to complete a race course and cross the finish line.
Session Five - Color Sensors
Green, yellow, red, blue...pick your favorite color! On October 25 B&B used Lesson Five to teach students about color sensors. Building off past lessons with loops, students designed programs that matched different numbers to different colors. As the robots were pointed at objects in the room, a number would display that corresponds to a specific color. Later, students were asked to program their bots to print and read out loud the color they are sensing. Students also learning about Ambient Light Intensity in which the robots can detect how bright a room is. The final bit of the lesson focused on programming a "Nocturnal Robot" so that the bot sleeps when the lights are out and turns on when it senses the lights turning on.
Hope everyone enjoys the Halloween festivities! Keep an eye out for new session recaps and updates on general B&B happenings as we close out the Fall Program.
As we moved toward the October 2 session of the semester, Bits & Bots added some new faces to the team. With many of our original members graduating soon, we've been making an effort to recruit new volunteers to keep B&B going into future school years. We're always adding to our website, so be sure to check out our 'TEAM' page to stay up-to-date with who we are! In the meantime, here are a few pictures of our weekly B&B meeting from last Tuesday:
Session Two was a continuation of the introductory lesson on moving the robots. We were a little short-staffed for the 10/2 session, but our volunteers worked hard to keep the students engaged with the material. Students were asked to program the bots to draw something as they moved. Using the Move Steering block in their programs, the kids created sequences to make drawings. Some of our drawing ideas included letters, shapes, zig-zags, and even a star! Check out the photos below for a closer look at the session:
Aside from our program updates, Bits & Bots has some exciting news to share: we're participating in the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting held at Northeastern the weekend of October 13 - 15. Our three co-founders, Brett, Kim, and Thurston, will all be attending. To learn more about the work we're doing for CGI U, browse our 'CGI U' tabs and come back to the site soon for updates!
Hope you all have a fun and spooky Friday the 13th!
After a few months of summer vacation, Bits & Bots has returned and we're better than ever. Our team has been hard at work planning new lessons and making sure our robot friends are ready to go. If you're interested in what the team thought about last year's program, take a look at our video summary on the 'ABOUT' page!
This Fall 2017 Program will include eight sessions. Lessons will be held every Wednesday from 3:00 - 6:00pm at the Grove Hall site of the Boston Public Library (41 Geneva Ave, Dorchester, MA 0212). Click here for the full schedule.
Our first session of the semester occurred Wednesday, September 27. Our on-site volunteers were happy to see many new faces! With almost a dozen students new to the LEGO bots, a lot of time was spent just having the kids get to know the robots. By the end of the session, Lesson 1 had successfully helped the students understand how the bots move around.
There are a lot of big changes happening for us at Bits & Bots and we can't wait to share updates! As the Fall 2017 Program moves forward, keep an eye out to lesson recaps here on the blog as well as posts across our social media platforms. We're super excited for what's to come and hope you'll come along for the ride.
It's good to be back!
Building off the activity in session six, last week’s session seven on March 23 brought the claw back. This time, B&B asked students to navigate their bots around a makeshift track and see who could finish the fastest. Students had to program their robots to move around a chair and use the claw to pick up a tire and carry it to the finish line. B&B is having tons of fun coming up with new and exciting activities using the claw.
We’ve included some photos from session seven below:
Sadly, this Thursday, March 30 marks the last B&B session of the semester. We have some pretty cool things lined up and look forward to sharing our progress with you!
The age-old classic Toy Story provided some inspiration for the B&B team this past Thursday, March 16. In our sixth session, we took a cue from Buzz and Woody to explore the different uses of the claw attachment.
The first mission for students was to move a tire from a designated started point to about halfway across a table. The robot was then supposed to released the tire and make its way back to the starting point. The students participating in the session picked this up pretty quickly and moved on to a challenge activity.
The challenge asked students to move their bots to the halfway point on the table, pick up a tire, move the robot to the end of the table, drop the tire off the edge, and finally return to the start. We’re happy to report that nearly all the students successfully completed the challenge. While Buzz’s alien friends might think the claw is their master, the B&B students took control of the mighty claw in session six!
We’ll be back soon with more updates!
Last week marked Northeastern’s spring break, so after some time to relax and recharge the B&B team is ready to get back to work this Thursday, March 16! As we move into session six of the semester, we wanted to get you up to speed what the students have been learning with with bots.
Our fourth and fifth sessions, held on 2/23 and 3/2, covered the same lesson. Named “The River” by our creative curriculum team, this lesson asked students to help their bots navigate from end of a map to the other. Despite the simple-sounding goal, moving the bots across the river was a little tricky. Students had to follow a few rules as they worked to build a program:
Get a closer look at “The River” in the images below:
Happy snow day tomorrow!
We’ve been away from the blog for a bit, but we’re back with some exciting updates! Following the cancellation of our 2/9 session, B&B was counting down the days to our 2/16 session – and it didn’t disappoint. The third lesson of the semester proved to be a challenging one. Volunteers led students in a programming activity involving color sensors. Students worked to get their robots to display different values based on what the linked color sensor was reading. It was a fun and engaging lesson that we plan to build on in future sessions.
Thanks to a connection to Northeastern’s chapter of Science Club for Girls, B&B was invited to participate in the annual “Show Me the Science” fair on Saturday, February 18. The event featured activity tables from 20 different student organizations and individuals. B&B set up shop with a few of our LEGO robot friends ready to help girls program a bot. We settled on a familiar lesson: programming a bot to move in a specific shape. We were so happy to contribute to Show Me the Science and experience first-hand the amazing work Science Club for Girls is doing in the Boston area.
You can read more about the event here: https://news.northeastern.edu/2017/02/northeastern-students-inspire-and-encourage-the-next-generation-at-science-club-for-girls/?utm_source=News%40Northeastern&utm_campaign=416c6a87c5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_508ab516a3-416c6a87c5-273706249
Things are moving along nicely for the B&B team and we’re looking forward to sharing our progress. Keep an eye out for a new post in the coming week!
On February 2, while Punxsutawney Phil predicted a long winter, Bits & Bots was springing into action with our second session. This past Thursday brought an increase in attendance with a total of 15 students participating in the week’s lesson. Working with our eight talented and enthusiastic volunteers, students were guided through the process of writing a program to control their robot’s movement. The robots were moving in no time! We think the return of a few Bits & Bots student regulars from previous semesters helped speed up the process. In an effort to keep things interesting, our quick-thinking volunteers came up with the idea to give students a programming challenge. The task was to write a program that would switch the controls so that the robot would perform the opposite movements when a central button is pushed. This kept the students engaged and occupied for the remainder of the session. It’s really encouraging to see the students understanding the material and taking time to really experiment and play with the robots. Who knew LEGOS could be so fun and education?! (We did, but still.)
Browse the images below to get an idea of what our Thursdays look like!
Unfortunately our session this week has been cancelled. But have no fear – the program picks up again on February 16!
Catch you soon,