Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Segway NXTway-Gyro self-balancing NXT robot with remote PSP joystick con...

This clip shows the possibilities of NXT WOW. I spent several hours trying to improve my understanding of PID Control. After quitting last night, however, I refocused on the human intelligence. What can we learn from kids who have developed these kinesthetic skills that will help us to help all students to achieve at high levels?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mathematica Solution to the GyroBot Control

A Google search (forces inverted pedulum angular rate) produced this online view into a Mathematica Notebook addressing the challenge of robot control.

"Inverted Pendulum Controls" from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project

Note the much greater complexity than the solution that Barello describes in his version of the GyroBot. Perhaps we can derive insight from this demonstration to see how to implement an easier solution. Also note that Mathematica even provides a free viewer tool that allows an intermediate level of access to the model.

Mathematica model contributed by: Stephen Wilkerson (Towson University) and Nathan Slegers (University of Alabama, Huntsville) with contributions by Franz Brandhuber

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ariel, Laurel and Alyssa share in Frau Adams' class

Frau Adams invited students in her 8th grade German class to submit weather projects in multimedia formats of students' personal preferences. Ariel and Laurel chose to extend their work with the green screen in ITeam for this assignment. Here, they set up to share their production with their class. I wanted to submit a brief video clip of their presentation to the class but Blogger would not accept the video file submitted this way as described here and here.

This image comes from the camera album in the gallery.
This method does not require the end termination. I also needed to add tags manually.

ReTest post to blogger with attached image

This post ideally should contain a title. This text with appropriate formatting.

The AndroidLegoRemote video. It did not take the video.

Now trying a jpg image. And a tag escape.

And none of the signature stuff after an end command. The end command worked as described in help but my attempt to probe the system for undocumented functionality did not produce the desired result:
#tag test
I needed to add the labels to the post manually.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sharing video of learning process

Blogspot gives me a tool for adding video to this post. Will it work any better than the Video Upgrade at Wordpress.com?

I have been trying to locate one of my videos of this subject on my MLTI laptop and it is anything but straightforward. I can easily find and view the video I want but so far, I cannot get the file url into the upload tool.

By using the "Save for Web" item under the file menu of QuickTime, I was able to create and find the file for upload. While that convoluted process might have sufficed in the past, it doesn't encourage routine use. What can we do to facilitate easier use?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Capstone retreat and student participation

The Mt. Ararat H.S. Capstone Committee has planned an all-day retreat off-campus in order to focus on the development of resources necessary for the implementation. Unfortunately, the two student members of the committee expressed reservations about taking that much time away from school because of the challenge of keeping up with demanding course-work. The situation illustrates the challenge that students face in having to choose between two conflicting demands: during junior-year, when students are trying their hardest to establish exemplary records, conventional school work almost always wins. It is extremely difficult to introduce a new culture when the existing one is so firmly established and reinforced.

I wonder if some of the seniors that are doing pre-pilot projects might be available. They face some similar challenges but might be willing to come for part of the day and recruit a collaborator who would bring valuable perspectives, too.

NXT, AppInventor and ?! [1st DRAFT]

Interrobang invites students to participate in missions and share their work as deeds that are reviewed before publication on their website http://playinterrobang.com. Ariel and I are evaluating the environment by submitting a collaborative mission. Interrobang held our work in limbo for more than three days.

Sunday evening they returned access to our work with a request to revise before they will accept it. The reviewer suggested that we add some video to our contribution.

Deed Needs Revisions

The deed you submitted for the mission "Knowledge Swap" needs some more work before it can be approved. You can keep working on it and submit it again at any time.

Here's what you need to work on:
This is very cool and we want to accept the deed -- but I think it can be much more illuminating to the community if you also upload a little video of what you're doing. Is that possible? We'll give you more points if you do so. Thanks!

So, I am saving it here as part of our development process and evaluation.

"Ariel M. and I worked together combining her knowledge of NXT and mine of AppInventor"

I am developing experience with AppInventor and track the new features as they are released. When I saw that Liz Looney was developing AppInventor support for NXT robotics, I anticipated that this would be highly engaging for ITeam members.


Ariel uses NXT robotics outside of school. She showed me how to use the NXT module and test a variety of sensors. For example, she used the ultrasonic distance sensor to determine its range (~1 to 90 inches). We connected it to math by measuring the maximum distance and comparing it with the distance we measured (as 7.5 x 12" tiles on the floor outside he library).

We could make an even more engaged connection with STEM by conducting a more complete comparison of observed (sensor) with measured (tape measure) distances and plotting those for analysis and interpretation. Once ITeam members are sufficiently familiar with the tools, we may be able to help MAMS sixth-grade teachers and Ms. Hogan, the technology integrator, incorporate ideas into the force and motion unit that they are developing.

We were able to connect the phone to the NXT Bluetooth and control both the tone generation and a test motor! Ariel was sufficiently excited that she started building the robot described in the NXT instructions booklet.

12/10/10- Today we worked on adding another motor to the robot. We also took some pictures of what we were doing. Hopefully by next week we will have the motors put together and many more pictures.

Friday, December 10, 2010

InterroBang ?! - A network for student-centered learning?

We need infrastructure to support project- and challenge-based learning that we are doing in both MAMS ITeam and MTA Capstone. We have been exploring and doing action research using AppInventor to control NXT robotics as they roll out new features. We want to share our work with others who might be interested in it.

I learned about ?! (InterroBang: http://playinterrobang.com/) through a message that Jim Matthews posted on the ARISgames group (http://groups.google.com/group/arisgames). I investigated, created an account, selected a mission, created an entry based on current work, invited Ariel, one of our experienced ITeam members, to contribute and help evaluate the system. After we submitted our entry to the system, I wrote the following reflection on the wall of of my user page at InterroBang.
Stephen Spaeth [Note that this link will not take most users to the right page because you need to have an account to get access to this page.] Ariel joined our team and contributed to documenting the deed. She took the picture, wrote the caption, and added text to describe the continuing work we did today. She decided that we were ready to submit the mission and hit the button. Apparently, it takes the deed out of our hands and we no longer have access to the deed. I can understand the need to freeze it during the approval process but I'd still like to be able to see the preview. It is unnerving to loose control over our own creation.
about 18 hours ago
As more time elapses, it becomes clearer that providers of this service need to:
  • Make the time-frame for approval process clearer
  • Make it clear to users that they will loose access to their own creations
  • Add the option to cross-post entries to other venues (e. g. to this blog for me) or at least the option to make the entry publicly accessible
Ariel thought that we should encourage ITeam members to use this service. I'm pretty sure that we don't want to do that until we resolve some of the outstanding issues.

Update: AppInventor developers and beta users are cranking out useful resources almost every day. For example, Liz Looney shared ShinyLegoNxt, a new source file to demonstrate the new NXT resources.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Re-Building Capstone

We are establishing a formal Capstone program at Mt. Ararat High School to give student alternative ways to show that they meet the mission of our school. As part of the process, we are running a Capstone Pilot with a subset of students. At yesterdays' committee meeting, Dr. King described Chandler M.'s plan to rebuild a motorcycle. After the meeting, I wrote to Dr. King:
Thank you for making time in your schedule to participate (even briefly) in the capstone meeting today. I thought that your part added much to the deliberations. Your story about rebuilding a motorcycle resonated with me because my brother's student initiated learning project consisted of 3 or 4 years dedicated to rebuilding two Model A Fords.
Students have wanted more engaging learning experiences for a long time. But only the most persistent and/or well-supported have been able to do substantial interest-based project and connect them with their school experiences. How can we make it possible for all students to get the benefit of doing the "hard fun" of something they want to learn?