Afterschool Robotics Class Week #3 – Programming

Yesterday (Fri., Dec. 20th) marked the end of our three-week afterschool robotics course at Fiske.  This week’s focus was programming.  As most of the kids have never programmed in the past, this class functioned very differently from the others.  Instead of giving several general presentations before letting them complete a challenge, we assigned a programmer with a Mindstorm laptop to each group of children with a list of programming objectives which become progressively harder over time.  The programmers in each group would act as a personal teacher or guide to each group and teach them to program NXT’s with Mindstorm in a very interactive way.  In the beginning, the kids simply had to program the NXT to move forward, backward, turn, etc.  But, by the end of the workshop almost all of the kids knew how to creatively program touch sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and even light sensors for line-following!  It was incredible to see how fast the kids picked up on how to program with Mindstorm, and they had a lot of fun working with the sensors.  The ultrasonic sensor was particular fascinating to the kids — some would use their hands to trigger the ultrasonic sensor and pretend they had the ‘Force’ from Star Wars.  This was the final and most hyped week of the class, and it certainly was not disappointing for us or the parents and students.

This was the first time we had done a legitimate class, and hopefully it will not be our last.  Teaching the students at Fiske was a great experience, and it was very rewarding to see these young engineers at work.  Maybe one day we’ll see them on 2 Bits and a Byte or in FLL!

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