What is Robotics?
What is Robotics?
Essentially, a robot is a mechanical device that can be programmed to follow a set of instructions. The robot has a processing unit, sensors to perceive its environment, and motors and actuators to move its limbs or wheels. It may speak, make other sounds, or flash with lights and colours in response to the environment as per instructions. Robots need the ability to follow programmed instructions and not just be controlled remotely. There are many different programming and building platforms that can be utilized to teach this important STEM focus, such as LEGO robotics, VEX robotics, VEX IQ robotics, NAO robots, and many more.
The Lego Mindstorms series of kits contain software and hardware to create customizable, programmable robots. They include an intelligent brick computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and Lego parts from the Technic line to create the mechanical systems. The Lego Mindstorms EV3 is the most recent, a third generation Lego Mindstorms product. It is a further development of the NXT generation, which is still used today in classes and competitions. However the EV3 is now the only Mindstorm kit that you can purchase at a retail store, such as Mastermind, the Lego Shop etc. Older NXT systems can be found on ebay, kijiji etc. Lego Mindstorms’ programming is command box programming, rather than code programming. It is a graphical based user interface in the Lego-supplied language of NXT-G Code. There are other 3rd party languages such as ROBOTC, which is a C-Based programming language with an easy-to-use development environment which is code programming.
Very similar to LEGO, but with perhaps less world recognition is VEX IQ, It is a robotics platform that has been designed to transform STEM learning for young students. Students can jump right in and snap-together plastic parts and it is completely tool-less. The programming uses a text based language called ROBOTC. ROBOTC is a text-based language based on the C language. It includes built-in debugger tools, as well as (but not limited to) code templates, Math/Trig operations (sin, cos,tan, asin,acos… etc.), user-friendly auto-complete function built into the interface, built-in sample programs. It is ROBOTC that students learn to program for the VEX IQ and VEX building environments. At E-Bots we teach ROBOTC programming once students have finished their levels in the lego mindstorms levels.
VEX Robotics is an educational program designed for students in middle school, high school and college programs who are interested in the world of technologies, specifically STEM. VEX Robotics is designed to teach students about engineering, math, science, and technology, all in a fun, interesting way that allows them to build and program whatever they wish. Additionally, each year VEX releases a competition, which utilizes a 12′ by 12′ field, each year providing a different challenge, and incorporating VEX’s core values. Students are challenged to design and build a robot as a team to compete against other teams around the world, each looking for a shot at the prestigious World Excellence Champions award. VEX is great for students who want to learn more about the fields of engineering and technology, or for students who want to develop a better understanding of science and technology. These skills can be pursued by the variety of aspects of VEX such as the programming, animation, mechanical design, and online media parts to VEX. VEX robotics is the largest and fastest growing middle and high school robotics program globally with more than 12,00 teams from 33 countries playing in over 1,000 tournaments worldwide. At E-Bots we have a high school invitational team that work together over the VEX season to design, build and program a robot to compete regionally, provincially and hopefully on a world stage.