Tech Edge - August 2012 - (Page 19)

● ● ● IN THE CLASSROOM Think. Are You Up for This Robotics Challenge? By Peggy Reimers F or those of us in education, a new year begins each August rather than January. Robotics sponsors unlock cabinets, dust off robotics kits, and plug in the NXT bricks. And back to school for thousands of students means brainstorming a new robotics invention or examining the new arena challenge. One of the benefits TCEA provides to its 14,000 members is the yearly robotics contest. There are 20 area contests held around the Lone Star State and one WHOPPIN’ sized state robotics contest for students in two divisions: Intermediate (Grades 4-8) and Advanced (Grades 9-12). Students have the choice of competing in the Arena Contest or the Inventions Contest. Like apples and oranges, the two cannot really be compared. THE INVENTIONS CONTEST Each Inventions team follows the engineering design process to create a robot that solves a real world problem. This contest has a one-page description, one page of rules, and one rubric. Teams keep a detailed logbook and prepare a six-minute presentation for the judges. Students showcase their research, robot performance, robot design, marketing strategies, and presentation skills for the judges at the TCEA Inventions Contest. LEGOs are not the only building material for this contest… lumber, metal, plastic, PVC pipe, dirt, and frying pans have been utilized. I have also witnessed commodes, chicken coops, greenhouses, and blow-up swimming pools hauled into the Inventions gym. When you think Inventions, think: open-ended, originality, wild abandonment, imaginative, curiosity, performing, visionary, innovative, possibilities. THE ARENA CONTEST Tuna cans, Big Red sodas, Wiffle balls, Spam, and checkers… What do all these items have in common? They have been willing game pieces in past arena challenges. Each fall, teams receive a 25-page document for the Arena competition. The guide explains the competition background, format, general robot rules, game description, and gamespecific rules. Sometimes there is a special twist for the state championship, so it is crucial to read the Arena robotics challenge guide from beginning to end, multiple times. Arena teams build a robot using one LEGO NXT, a specific set of motors and sensors, and LEGO-branded elements. Teams are allowed a total retail value of $5 to incorporate non-electrical, non-LEGO parts on their robots to enhance functionality or for decoration. Note this important disclaimer: No LEGOs can be harmed for competition. Do not melt, deform, cut, bend, glue, or solder our favorite plastic bricks! Arena teams participate in three two-minute rounds. A team’s robot must perform specific tasks on the challenge field. Points, penalties, and bonus awards are calculated at the end of each round. Task goals may differ between Intermediate and Advanced divisions. These two contests ensure student mastery of critical 21st century skills: communication, collaboration, team-building, and problem solving. Issue Three 2012 >> techedge 19

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tech Edge - August 2012

AT A GLANCE: Classroom Tips to Help Support a BYOT Initiative
TECA Professional Development
Resources for a BYOT
LEADING WITH TECHNOLOGY: It's Not All About the Robot
BYOT: From Potential Distraction to Real Integration
CREATING CLOUDS: From Sharing to Storing, Clouds, Help Clear the Way for BYOT
BYOT TO THE LIBRARY: Student's Learning Options Continue to Expand
TECH SMART: Tips to Promote Responsible and Ethical Digital Citzens
MOBILE LEARNING: Paving the Way for BYOT and Responsible Uses Policies
IN THE CLASSROOM: Think, Are You UP for This Robotics Challenge?
ADVOCACY UPDATE: Connecting in the Community

Tech Edge - August 2012