Monday, 21 March 2011

A new era for junkbots

The funding for the junkbots project has now come to an end.So what were the outcomes.
Figure 1Overall Results

Figure 1 shows how the overall score for the whole project. Overall the student were satisfied/ok (around 3) or more than satisfied ( 4 or 5). There seems to be a linkage between the junkbot building exercises and the overall satisfaction ratings. Programming on the whole had slightly lower satisfaction scores but ok scores.

Figure 2: Comparison of the overall event scores across the schools.
Figure 2 shows scores for the overall project for each school. Overall as mentioned previous the response is very positive (all the results were 89% or higher 3,4, or 5 ratings). There were variations in the level of satisfaction. The school were students were selected the student's based on ability or interest tended to have satisfaction scores that were higher.Does this mean the approaches are more suited to the gifted and talented. Probably not as the satisfaction scores were reasonable for all the schools.

Figure 3: Comparison of the junkbots ratings across the schools.

Figure 3 shows  the ratings for the junkbot building activity alone. As has already been observed they are similar to the overall event results but there are variations between schools. One school in particular the results for this activity were lower, one possible reason for this was the age of the students, this was the youngest group.

Figure 4: Comparison of the robot programming ratings across the schools.
Figure 4 shows the ratings for the exercises involving programming LEGO robots to solve the junk clearing tasks built with the junkbots previously.  This was always likely to be most challenging of the tasks. Very few if any of the students had done any programming before, so been all new, with only one robot per group was always likely to be a concern. In reality the results were on the whole very good and what the some of the students did with the robots actually was very impressive.

Is it a success?
Yes the satisfaction scores are good, the students produced some very good designs and in the case of programming robots in Java did something that the schools probably haven't got the capacity to do on their own (though robots in school has a long history). The students got to meet practising STEM professionals and students. So thank you to all the schools who have taken part, as well as the university students and staff who took part.

Where next?
Even though the funding has finished, the project carries on. Activities from the project will carry on, as an example, one of the schools we worked with previously we will be working with on the 30th March 2011 building junkbots.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Huxlow Pt 2: Lego Robots

 The second half (programming lego robots) on the junkbots project has been carried out at Huxlow Science College on 28th February 2011.

At the start of the day most of the students had not previously programmed a robot or (knowingly) a computer.

The first task was to get the robot to collect some rubbish and push it over a line and then move back to the another line. All groups programmed the robot to do this and some groups add a sweeper to the front of the robot to push several items at once across the line.

The second task was to get the robot to collect the rubbish this time, but without adding any attachments to the front of the robot. Several groups successfully did this, by programming the robot to follow a path that collected the rubbish (drinks cans) and put them behind the line.

The third and fourth tasks involved the use of a sensor:
-To build the robot that did not move unless there was a can in front of the robot.
-To build a robot that went around the can when it detected it.

Some of these students went from never programming to programming robots that could react to objects all in one day.

Feedback from this group for the junkbots activity (figure 1)  and the lego robot (figure 2) activities was generally good. Thank you to all those who took part.

Figure 1: Junkbot activity (Day 1)

Figure 2: Lego Robots (Day 2)