Update December 15th 2021

Hello Everyone

As we end another year, we reflect back on 2021 as a year of hope albeit with many changes for E-Bots. 

We moved again this past summer as our needs during this covid period in our lives changed.  The move brought us hope that with a new location we will have an opportunity to open our doors and welcome, old and new friends, into our world of fun and learning. 

As COVID19 is still a threat, and now the new Omnicron variant, we will continue to be vigilant. 

We have the following procedures in place;

  • Only students are permitted into the facility so we do not add “extra” people into our space
  • We are using WHATSAPP chats so parents can stay in touch and see pics and videos of what their child is learning
  • COVID Screening required prior to each student entry.
  • All individuals entering the facility are masked
  • Students are sanitizing at the front door before proceeding to their class
  • Students are only to arrive  a few minutes ahead of classes to proceed directly to their own classrooms, no hanging/milling around
  • Washrooms are wiped down after use
  • Computers, robots and desks are wiped down after use

Thank goodness we have not had a single COVID case since we opened in September, and we hope to continue with the diligence that we have used. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask us. 

We wish you all a happy season of celebrations this December, wishing you a Happy New Year, and let’s be hopeful for 2022 that life will return to a new normal that opens more doors and allows us to meet in person again! 

Pam, John & Stephanie.

For those of you who are just discovering us in Burlington, here is a bit of our background

We are a family run business that started in July 2008. We have typically taught over 600 registrations per year (orecovid) and have competition teams that have won Regional, Provincial, World Championships over our 14 years of competing. Our high school students have been successful in attending engineering and computer related University programs, with some of our grads working for companies, such as Google and Apple. While we may be new to you in Burlington, we have a very colourful history of success with our students!Our traditional courses, pre-covid, were designed for 10 weeks of classes, stretched over & reinforced by a normal academic school year. Our sessions ran as 4 semesters/sessions in an E-Bots year; Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer camp. We were also teaching in the EV3 platform with EV3-G programming. 

When covid happened, we pivoted to online learning, allowing our robots to go home with our students so they could still access the live, hands-on learning that we are known for. 

Developing our new recent programs. When LEGO, finally (and during covid), released their new language environment in September 2020 (EV3 classroom, across all platforms MAC & PC) this allowed us to start thinking about how to teach both the new environment and also how to reorganize our curriculum to be the most successful for students in a covid environment and moving forward. 

If your student attended a program with us prior to Sept 2019 you will need to contact the office to establish what the best new program choice will be.  

The technical language behind our new programs;

We are thrilled to be bringing you (across all platforms MAC & PC) the new EV3 Classroom environment. Almost a year ago in November 2019, with the upgrade to MAC OS, Apple computer users lost the ability to program in EV3 Mindstorms, a LABVIEW backed programming language. They were forced to upgrade to EV3 Classroom which was now a version of the very successful Scratch MIT language. Unfortunately, the roll out for PC users did not come until mid-September 2020.

EV3-G Mindstorms LABVIEW has been LEGO’s default programming environment since the release of the NXT (precursor to the EV3 robot). It’s perfect for introducing students to coding through its visual block programming. It’s fairly intuitive and allows students to focus on logic concepts and operations without the pesky side of having to deal with syntax errors. We’ve had great success teaching programming to students for 12+ years with this environment and like everyone facing the passage of time, we were looking down the barrel of change and were digging our heels in, in the interest of our students learning and comprehension.

EV3 Classroom is based on the very popular Scratch MIT programming language that’s been around for a while now. Scratch, like LabView is a block based visual programming language designed by the MIT Media Lab primarily targeted at children 8+ to help learn coding. You’ve probably heard your student reference Scratch before; it’s website is readily used in classroom settings. If they haven’t seen it in school maybe they’ve found it on their own explorations.  

My student has done scratch before.  It is REALLY important to note at this point that while your student may have Scratch experience that does not mean they have LEGO EV3 Scratch experience. The LEGO environment takes from the scratch language but in most circumstances, they would not have been taught EV3 along with Scratch.  

This means that Level 1 will be the correct starting place for their E-Bot’s experience if they are new to working with us and even if they have previous scratch experience.  

Please remember that only 10% of our teaching is focused on the environment/language and the remainder, on the logic of programming that extends across languages and platforms and the soft skills (critical thinking, analysis, problem solving, etc) that goes hand in hand. 

In our extensive research & development of the new EV3 Classroom we have fundamental concerns about implementing EV3 Classroom for FIRST LEGO League teams. With the change in language, LEGO has given up a profound amount of student user control over the robot and any program exceeding 50 commands becomes overwhelming to the user. This has been universally complained about by participants in the 20/21 FLL RePLAY Competition. Although we were still able to compete this season in Cargo Connect Competition in EV3-G, LEGO has stopped supporting the EV3-G software, so we are looking to alternatives in order to remain competitive. Our solution is the recent support LEGO has put behind MicroPython.  

MicroPython, a syntax based language, is a lean and efficient implementation of the Python 3 programming language that includes a small subset of the Python standard library and is optimised to run on microcontrollers and in constrained environments making it ideal for use on the EV3 Robot. It has been available for a while for use on the EV3 but was cumbersome and relied on a third party install. LEGO has now rolled it out under its own umbrella. We have decided that our higher level classes (Pythons 1,2,3) will be taught in MicroPython. We will teach it using the Microsoft Visual Studio environment and it will be a prerequisite course for consideration for any of our 2022/23 FLL Teams.

 

We are still planning on adding an Arduino B class after many, many, many requests for it. Now that we have classes coming into the facility It won’t be offered immediately as we are limited to the amount of classes we can fit into a month between our FLL Teams, VEX team and inhouse classes with all the extra sterilization… but be on the lookout for the roll out in the new year.