Bot Basketball & Other School Stories

bot basketball 1
(Sorry the picture’s so blurry). After a few slow sessions in which one of our laptops vanished, we picked up again today with a new challenge: carry a ball from behind one line to another line, then dump the ball into a box behind the second line. It didn’t seem like the teams were working very hard, and I kept chastising them for gossiping and joking around instead of getting anything done… but the next thing you know, they came together and each team had a robot ready to test. The RCX team technically won this challenge, getting the ball into the box on their very first try with a simple design and even simpler robot. The NXT team came very close but their robot needed a lot of tweaking before it finally worked, and even then was not very reliable. For some reason our NXT robots always seem to wander to the right even when they are supposed to go straight. Anyway, we invited the administrators to come check it out, and they brought the quality reviewer, so it was a nice little moment of showing off. Then a couple of other afterschool groups came to see, and they were really excited for my kids. Great stuff. They finished the challenge early and were eager for the next one; I think it will be getting a ball into a smaller, higher target.

Meanwhile my whole seventh period class had to be checked for lice (and there was at least one positive) and it’s been all I can do to stop feeling paranoidly itchy since then. Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck YUCK. I’ve never been the kind of teacher who is totally “hands-off” – I’ll give a kid a hug or a pat on the shoulder or whatever, despite the ubiquitous warnings about false accusations, etc. But man, this lice business might be the thing that finally keeps me from hugging kids!

The kids are super excited about their science fair projects, and after a couple of slow, slow lessons in which it seemed like they’d never buckle down to design their projects, today they finally figured it out (thanks to more explicit modeling from me?). Many teams got projects approved and others are close. This time of year is so stressful because there are so many management challenges – but the excitement is inspiring.

If only the kids would just start being nice to each other. If only.

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Filed under robotics, teaching

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