Robotics Bootcamp - Nov 16, 2019
Codify Academy held its first Robotics Bootcamp for children age 9-13 at the Amazon Vancouver offices. The goal of the course was to introduce children to the basics of robotics programming using Makeblock mBot Robot Kit and Scratch programming language. By the end of the class, students were able to program their robots to move in all directions and speeds in addition to avoiding obstacles utilizing the robot sensors. Student learned the concepts behind self-driving cars and applied them to Robots.
The course consisted of several instructor-led workshops. Each one of these workshops emphasized on exploring a fundamental hardware or software skill. As the students progressed through the day, they programmed their robots with more capabilities. The camp concluded by a final project and a demo of the student projects.
Workshop 1: Build your own robot
At the beginning of the workshop, students were introduced to the components in the MBot robot. These components include ultrasonic motion sensors, light sensors, main board, connectors, and the software that control it.
Students were devided into multiple groups based on their age and they were tasked to assemble their own robot using the mBot manual instructions and with the help of a team of mentors.
Workshop 2: Think like a robot (Sequencing)
The second workshop conveyed a simple but a powerful concept: how to divide a task into a sequence of steps. After a few example, the students were asked to think and act like robots. For instance, they were challenged to sequence the steps required to move in a square shape.
Later on, a short introduction to the mBlock IDE and the Scratch programming language building blocks was provided. Students learned how to translate the sequence of steps into simple robot instructions written in Scratch blocks. By the end of this workshop, the students were able to program their robots to move in different directions at different speeds and use the flash lights.
Workshop 3: Continue for ever (Events and Loops)
The children finished the previous session with an open challenge: how to move the robot for 2 second, then stop for one second over and over without stopping. This session taught the students the "forever" Scratch programming construct to solve the issue.
Then, the students learned the concept of the Event and how to use it to make the robot interact with its surrounding environment. They used the ultrasonic sensor as an example, and utilize it to react to the changing distance between the robot and the obstacles in front of it.
Workshop 4: Flow control and the final project
The last concepts the students learned during the camp is flow control using the "If/Else" programming construct. The students were challenged to use this concept to make the robot change its direction and speed if it sees an obstacle.
The final project required the students to slow down their robots from a full speed to near zero speed as they approach an obstacle, then to change direction to completely avoid it. The project was presented as a three-stage task to the students.
Almost all the students completed the first two stages of the project and some of the completed all of it.