Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The 8547 MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0...

Reee-bot the Roving Robot Reporter here…

Rumor has it that an updated NXT Mindstorms is to be released possibly this summer. At the recent Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair the 8547 Mindstorms® NXT 2.0 was on display. The home version kit (not sure if there will be also an education version) will include 612 elements, a color sensor in addition to the other sensors, instructions for 4 new robot models & it looks like there will be a remote control feature. My cousin Alpha Rex has a new make-over – Wow!

For info & photos of the new models go to:

More photos:


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Life After FLL...

Since September (some since May when registration opened) FLL teams with great expectations have been preparing for the regional tournaments which are upon us. Some triumphant teams will go on to the FLL US Open Championship and maybe to the World Festival; but then what??? No, it’s not over! There is an awesome book of projects to tantalize one’s imagination and keep the exciting challenge of robotics going: LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT One-Kit Wonders: Ten Inventions to Spark Your Imagination by Kelly, J. F.; Scholz, M.P.; Smith, C.R.; Boogaarts, M.; Daudelin, J.: Burdo, E.D.; Valk, L.; Bluetoothkiwi; Rhodes, F. – No Starch Press, Inc. 2009.

The book, chock full of ideas, provides step-by-step instructions of how to build the robots or devices, each of which can be built from just one LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT kit (and if you happen to have other LEGO® elements, creativity is unleashed). There are programming examples for each of the projects, plus ideas for further exploration, and troubleshooting tips.

So if you are looking for some fresh ideas, there are 10 wonderful projects for teachers and FLL coaches to explore and to adapt to emphasize particular technology, science and math skills. For example, CandyPicker, M, and The Hand opens the door (:-O) to discussions about the use of robotics to do repetitive, dangerous or dirty jobs. RoboLock helps to explain how security systems work. SPC: the Self-Parking Car illustrates how sensors work and how the Lexus LS 460L parks itself – hmmm a field trip to a Lexus dealership might be an interesting idea. My favorite is NXT Dragster, as a robotics teacher I have done something similar, incorporating math by finding the circumference of a circle (wheel) to determine the number of rotations/degrees needed to go a particular distance. NXT Dragster adds the excitement and the feel of a drag racing strip – imagine drag racing down the hallway!!!

For more information on the book and updates go-to No Starch Press or, 1-800-420-7240).


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama – 44th President of the United States…

January 20, 2009 makes its mark in history, American History, World History, where the United States of America is on the verge of a big change. The fact that a multi-cultural country came together to elect a president that is multi-ethnic is history in itself. More importantly this President is calling on all Americans to work together with him to make America strong and rise to a greatness that has never been seen before.

So what role will FIRST® robotics play in this commitment for change and service to America? It will continue to do what it has been doing since
1989 when it was founded by Dean Kamen. FIRST® (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) a not-for-profit organization, with its many volunteers (who are teachers, community leaders, employees of corporations, university students/faculty, and FIRST® alumni), have been reaching out to young people using robotics to help build self-confidence, a strong knowledge base, cooperative working & sharing, as well as life-long skills in kids in America and in many countries throughout the world. It is through their involvement and spirit of “We Can” that they hope to affect change in the lives of young people who will hopefully make America and the world better.

In honor of this historic day Master Model Designers at LEGOLAND® in Carlsbad, California have built the Presidential Inauguration ceremonies out of LEGO® elements. Check it out…


Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's Winnie-the-Pooh Day...

January 18th is Winnie-the-Pooh Day, well actually it is A. A. Milne’s birthday – the author (Allen Alexander Milne) of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

The real Christopher Robin was the author’s son and Pooh bear, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Eeyore were his stuff animal toys. However, there was an original Winnie, an orphaned American Black bear cub that was found in Canada and later sent to the London Zoo.

In 1951, Pooh bear, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, and Eeyore were “loaned” to the E.P. Dutton & Co. publishers, but somehow they were never returned to England; they are now on display at the Donnell Children’s Library in New York City – I know because went to see them.

- Reee-Bot the Roving Reporter