Enhance Your Makerspace!

It’s no secret how exciting the trend of makerspaces are for schools. While this movement was started quite some time ago, it seems to have gained particularly great momentum in the past 5 years.

Built on the idea of ‘constructionism’, makerspaces are a very obviously translated idea, where a space is dedicated within a school or educational facility for students to create and ‘make’ things.  There is shared resources and networking that takes place and provides a different structure of learning for students. Ranging from woodworks to robotics, these spaces are extremely important in fostering creativity and problem solving in students.

Where Will Makerspaces Work Best?

Makerspaces also range from elementary schools to college campuses, so their versatility is extremely useful.

According to Educause.edu, on their article 7 Things you Should Know About Makerspaces,

“….certain materials and tools are emblematic of makerspaces, such as microcontrollers called arduinos and 3D printers, valuable for fast prototyping. As the notion of providing space for project design and construction has caught on in education, such places have acquired other accoutrements, from paints and easels and impromptu stage sets to cooktops and candy molds. Used by students, faculty, and staff, makerspaces have become arenas for informal, project-driven, self-directed learn- ing, providing workspace to tinker, try out solutions, and hear input from colleagues with similar interests. “

It’s places like these that encourage a different type of learning to take place, perhaps a more ‘open-range’ type of environment that differs from the structure of a classroom being led by a teacher.

Some supplies for a makerspace are less available than others, such as 3D printers and robots.

If you compare sharing a robot amongst a class of 20 students to them all sharing a computer to learn from; you can see how the essence of learning is diluted. The experience is completely different and likely not nearly as effective or beneficial to the students until it’s their “turn” to use the computer.

The same can be said for robotics. We know they are extremely useful for teaching many STEM concepts and early mechanical engineering, and LEGO robots are very popular for schools and competitions but start around $400. For most public schools, one robot may be more than is affordable so to effectively teach an entire class by sharing; the students are not receiving the best quality experience from their class.

Here is another example where the Virtual Robotics Toolkit can provide a solution to hundreds of schools and thousands of students, where each student is able to individually use the simulator. They can build and control their own robots using the exact same controller and concepts as the physical robots. In fact, if they’ve already learned how to use a LEGO EV3 MINDSTORMS or NXT robot, they will seamlessly navigate the VRT.

Pilots use flight simulators to learn to fly for the same reason students can learn robotics with one; costs and training purposes.

If students are given access to the VRT in addition to the makerspace of sharing a physical robot, their skills and overall experience will be greatly enhanced and at a fraction of the cost of a real robot.

It’s a win-win for teachers as well, since they’re able to help their class all get to the same level.

Where can this movement take students and educators?

The Educause article says, “One key demand of a makerspace is that it exist as a physical location where participants have room and opportunity for hands-on work, but as these environments evolve, we may see more virtual participation.”

This is such a great point, because of global networking the opportunities are truly endless. Again, here is a great window of opportunity for the VRT to be a part of your school’s makerspace.  The software already encourages users to interact and even compete with other robot enthusiasts across the globe via the internet.

This capability allows students to learn from eachother and share ideas and challenges that they would otherwise not have had the access to.

A Cute Robot That Dares to Fight: Self-balancing Robot “Gemini” Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Gemini, a waterdrop-shaped, two-wheel, self-balancing robot with two distinct personalities, will accommodate consumers’ leisure needs more than ever before. The Gemini Kickstarter campaign launches on November 10th, 2015.

After the wild success of Makeblock, an educational robot kit series targeting makers and educators, the Shenzhen-based hardware startup Shenzhen Maker Works Technology Co., Ltd expanded its reach and designed the user-friendly smart robot Gemini, which requires no programming knowledge or assembling efforts on users’ behalf.

While standing, Gemini moves like a cute puppy, spreading joy via iridescent LED lights and flashing emoticons, and dancing to music at your command. When Gemini is equipped with a turret and crouches down, however, the robot transforms into a fearless warrior who is ready to combat.

The key to Gemini’s accurate signaling and angular actions lies in the self-balancing technology. With one MPU-6050 3-Axis Accelerometer and Gyro working with STM32 MCU, through real-time analysis of related state parameters, Gemini can minimize the displacement both vertically and horizontally, in a timely manner, and control the angular offset with the utmost accuracy, remaining level with ease.

 

Additional Features:

 

Stable Movement

The waterdrop-shaped, two-wheel, streamlined structure, empowered by the dual encoder motors with high resolution, ensures Gemini’s extraordinary agility and mobility.

 

Innovative Control Systems

Based on the free iPad app, the robot can perform complex motions and tasks with tap-and-swipe finger movements, tilting techniques (gravity control), and voice control.

 

Fluent Intercommunication

Together, the 2.4G and Wi-Fi modules offer seamless and timely communication, instantly transmitting and updating all parties’ data throughout the game.

 

High-Sensitivity LED Blue Light

Inheriting the signature Makeblock blue LED lighting, Gemini improves the transmission efficiency and undermines unstable performance from the reflection of the sun, which is often encountered by IR light-enabled devices. Overall, Gemini offers users an enhanced interactive experience.

 

Starting at USD $99.00, the team provides different bundles for buyers. “Our mission is to make an ‘Apple product’ for consumer robot kits,” says the founder and robot hobbyist Jasen Wang.

 

See Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1818505613/gemini-entertainment-and-educational-robot-for-kid

PHIRO: A LEGO® compatible robot for all kids. Learn to Code in 5 ways.

Cambridge, MA, November 2nd, 2015- Robotics Education Startup Robotix USA, LLC, lead by two sisters, Deepti Suchindran and Aditi Prasad, with a mission to inspire the innovators of tomorrow, announced today it is raising funds via a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to develop coding toys for kids, that makes learning to code fun and easy. The company set out to raise funds on Kickstarter to produce the first batch of their innovative robots, Phiro, that is going to change the educational robotics market. (Phiro on Kickstarter is selected as a Kickstarter ‘Staff Pick’. Link to Kickstarter http://kck.st/1SjqW7H)

Robotix has many years of experience teaching coding and robotics to several K-12 schools. They have evaluated educational robots from all over the world and found gaps. The robots are usually expensive, use proprietary programming languages and are not so fun for kids. Robotix has created Phiro, an affordable robotics & coding toy that helps kids learn to code and develop computational thinking skills. Kids can learn to code in 5 ways, either without a computer or with open-source programming languages that millions of kids use and love. Phiro is a LEGO® compatible robotics toy that kids can play, code & innovate with to develop 21st century skills.

“In today’s technology-driven and rapidly changing world, being computational thinkers to solve problems is an essential skill for children to learn. Computational thinking is a critical 21st century skill that is relevant to all fields from economics, sports, medicine, law, and engineering. Research shows that one of the most effective ways for kids, as young as 4, to learn computational thinking is through coding and robotics”- said Deepti Suchindran, PhD, CEO, Robotix USA.

“With Phiro children get to see the practical application of programmes they have created instantaneously”- said Dr. Wolfgang Slany, Professor of Computer Science & Head of the Institute for Software Technology, Graz University of Technology, Austria.

With Phiro, kids can play music, make a movie, create games, flash lights, detect faces and much more. Coding and playing with Phiro empowers and inspires kids to be creators and innovators of tomorrow.  Robotix has created two robots: Phiro Unplugged & Phiro Pro. Both robots come fully assembled and are ready to learn from & play with, right out of the box.

Phiro Unplugged for kids ages 4 to 8. Kids can learn to code & program the robot without a computer! Phiro Unplugged is a great robotic tool to learn Sequential programming and Binary Coding.

Phiro Pro for young people ages 9 to 18. Kids can program Phiro Pro with a computer, tablet or smartphone connected wirelessly via Bluetooth to Scratch 2.0 (MIT, USA), Snap4Arduino (UC Berkeley/Citilab, Spain), Pocket Code mobile apps (Graz University of Technology, Austria). Learners can connect to a community on-line enabling collaboration, sharing & learning. Phiro Pro also has all the capabilities of Phiro Unplugged.

“In one package Phiro does what a whole lot of other systems do individually so it really helps to bring all those together … and make it more cost effective for the classroom”- said Daniel Riles, Technology Integration Specialist, Brookwood School, Boston, USA.

Robotix has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to manufacture the robots for the global market, which will be ready for Kickstarter supporters in the 2nd quarter of 2016 with special Kickstarter launch prices at $99 (Phiro Unplugged) and $149 (Phiro Pro) during the campaign. Crowdfunding and detailed features of Phiro Unplugged and Phiro Pro can be found here:  www.robotixedu.com and on our Twitter at twitter.com/RobotixLS and Facebook at facebook.com/robotixedu

LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Introduces Mobile Programming With New EV3 Programmer App For Tablets

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Today the LEGO Group announced the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 Programmer App, a new application that allows builders to create programs for MINDSTORMS robots directly from iOS and Android tablet devices. Featuring a streamlined selection of the most-used commands, the EV3 Programmer App allows for more interaction away from the desktop or laptop computer, giving users even more freedom to explore and tinker with the MINDSTORMS platform.  The EV3 Programmer App will be available in free versions for iOS and Android tablets in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Danish, Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin), Korean and Russian in late November 2015. The app is not a standalone experience, but designed for LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3, the LEGO construction set that allows you to build and program robots that do what you want them to do (U.S. SRP $349).

The EV3 Programmer App consists of the 11 most popular programming blocks in the LEGO MINDSTORMS software, including action blocks, flow blocks and comment blocks. After writing and saving a program within the app, a user can progress to more advanced programming by opening it in the LEGO MINDSTORMS desktop software.  To provide additional inspiration for beginner robot makers, the app will feature building missions, videos and building instructions for five starter robots that represent a variety of building and programming experiences all while delivering the fun factor for which LEGO building is known.

„By extending MINDSTORMS robotic programming to tablets, we are embracing the ‚anywhere, anytime‘ of mobile devices to unleash even more creativity in building and programming with MINDSTORMS,“ said Filippa Malmegard, LEGO MINDSTORMS community manager. „When we untether the experience from the desktop, programming really becomes a playful extension of building, allowing users to add a new behavior or interactivity to their LEGO creations. This extra level of mobility will make the EV3 Programmer App an accessible and convenient programming starter experience for a new generation of users, while at the same time adding play value for our existing MINDSTORMS Community.“

From Play to Prototype: LEGO MINDSTORMS at World Maker Faire and Smithsonian Innovation Festival
To further inspire the next generation of innovators, the LEGO Group is showcasing the creativity and innovation of the MINDSTORMS Community at two high profile events this weekend, World Maker Faire, September 26-27, in New York, NY, and the Smithsonian Innovation Festival, September 26 – 27, in Washington, DC. At each event, MINDSTORMS makers will demonstrate inventions they’ve built using MINDSTORMS building sets as prototyping tools in addition to showcasing a variety of fun LEGO robots.

A number of recipients of LEGO Prototyping Kits from this summer’s Play to Prototyping Challenge, launched during the National Week of Making in June, will participate in World Maker Faire. LEGO MINDSTORMS Community Manager Filippa Malmegard will also moderate a panel on the topic „From Play to Prototype“ where featured builders will discuss how LEGO bricks and elements can serve as a creative prototyping platform for new concepts and inventions ranging from prosthetics to 3D printers. (Saturday, September 26, 3:45PM – 4:15 PM)

At the Smithsonian Innovation Festival in Washington, DC, Shubham Banerjee, the 14-year-old founder of Braigo Labs will demonstrate his braille printer built entirely from LEGO MINDSTORMS and share his process of invention with attendees.  Alongside Shubham, Cameron Kruse, Fulbright alumni and LEGO MINDSTORMS builder will demonstrate a prototype for his baseball mudder, a machine that can apply the same amount of mud to each new baseball, eliminating inconsistencies in the ways mud was applied to new baseballs before they were used in a game. Both Shubham and Cameron will participate in 15 minute Q&A interviews as part of the event as well.

The EV3 Programmer App for tablets will be available through the App Store and Google Play in late November 2015. For more information on LEGO MINDSTORMS and examples of robots built using LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3, please visit www.LEGO.com/MINDSTORMS.

RoboSnap – Vision for your Robot

Truckee, CA, May 22, 2015 – 10 Imaging Inc. launched their debut product on Kickstarter, RoboSnap.  RoboSnap provides “Vision for Your Robot”, by detecting objects in the environment by their color, location, shape and size.  The creator of RoboSnap, Shari Vedovato says, “We created RoboSnap to add a new dimension to your robot to allow it to have more understanding of the environment and be more autonomous.”

RoboSnap currently works on the LEGO® Mindstorms EV3 as well as the Raspberry Pi with the BrickPi add-on board.

 

Not only can RoboSnap add vision to your robot, it can be programmed with Snap!, a Scratch extension or with the Python and C programming languages.  Shari says, “We provide many choices to program RoboSnap in order to support our youngest customers to our most experienced.  We received a lot of positive feedback about the ability to program the EV3 with Snap! at our demonstrations at the San Mateo Maker Faire.  Many kids are learning Scratch at school and it is comfortable for them to continue to program with this language as they move into robotics.”  Kickstarter backers can select to receive the “JUST THE SOFTWARE”  reward if they are interested in programming their robots with Snap! on the EV3.

Riley Breuner, a high school student who recently competed in the FIRST Robotics League competition said, “It’s great that there’s a new sensor that can detect colors accurately and reliably. It’s almost impossible to use the existing Lego sensors because you can run the same program and get different results or it just detects the wrong color. RoboSnap is a much better option.“  Shari agreed, “When watching the recent FIRST LEGO League missions I noticed that it was difficult for the robots to perform the ‘Search Engine’ mission in one pass.  It was necessary to use the ‘eyes’ of the players to determine the color.   We have shown that RoboSnap can do this mission in a single pass.  Although RoboSnap is not currently sanctioned to be part of the FIRST LEGO League competition, we are working on having it accepted.”

 

RoboSnap will be available exclusively on Kickstarter from May 13 to June 12, 2015 with the first shipments of RoboSnap cameras in October 2015.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robosnap/robosnap-vision-for-your-robot

Create, Share, & Teach with SnapCAD

Information about SnapCAD just appeared on the VEX Robotics website. You can now sign up with your email to get informed as soon as SnapCAD is available for download.

So, sign up and while you wait for the download to become available, read the information that is on their official website:

Create, Share, & Teach with One Easy-to-Use Program

SnapCAD is a community-built solution for designing virtual VEX IQ models and creating printable, shareable instructions for them. Use SnapCAD to test out a novel idea in the virtual world before building it physically, or to share your creations with the world in the form of step-by-step build instructions!

Transform your VEX IQ Classroom

SnapCAD is a FREE download and available to anyone with a PC running Windows 95 or newer (see below for full system requirements). Students can even install it on their home computers and bring their models (saved in the lightweight .ldr or .mpd file formats) into class the next day.

A Community Effort

The SnapCAD vision began when some members of the VEX IQ community began converting VEX IQ CAD files into the popular open-source LDraw format. This made them available for use in a number of publicly available LDraw editors.

Built for VEX IQ

Drawing from community expertise, SnapCAD is a new LDraw editor designed specifically for VEX IQ. Students can use SnapCAD to learn the fundamentals of computer aided design (CAD) and create new VEX IQ robots!

  • Comes pre-loaded with the entire VEX IQ part library
  • Supports colored VEX IQ parts
  • Includes pre-built models of the Autopilot, the Clawbot IQ, and V-Rex
  • Adapts to new products ported into SnapCAD soon after public release
  • Creates step-by-step instructions for your custom builds

And feel free to join our VEX IQ discussions in our VEX IQ Robotics Fangroup on Facebook

VEX IQ SnapCAD Screenshot

 

Husarion Launches Kickstarter Campaign for Build-Your-Own Robot Device

Husarion’s RoboCORE Offers Easy and Affordable Way for Anyone to Construct a DIY Robot

Krakow, Poland – February 11, 2015 – Husarion, a Poland-based technology start-up, today announced it is seeking funding for RoboCORE, a device that acts as the “heart” of the DIY robot. Husarion’s mission is to bring robotics into the mainstream consumer market and RoboCORE offers the ultimate solution that allow robotics enthusiasts and companies to easily build their own robots, without the need for high-level programming or engineering skills.

Husarion founders are looking to raise $50,000 to bring RoboCORE to market. Over the next 30 days, investors may support and track Husarion’s campaign at the official project page on Kickstarter. 

The market for consumer and office robots is surging. A recent report from Business Insider Intelligence found that the multibillion-dollar global market for robotics, long dominated by industrial and logistics uses, has begun to see a shift toward new applications. According to BI, There will be a $1.5 billion market for consumer and business robots by 2019. BI also projects the market for consumer and office robots will grow at a CAGR of 17 percent between 2014 and 2019, seven times faster than the market for manufacturing robots.

“The design and production of robot components is so costly that robots are currently used mainly for military and industrial purposes,” said Dominik Nowak, CEO at Husarion. “There’s been little or no opportunity for robotics to become widespread. Our mission is to make out-of-the-box modules available so that anyone can create an inexpensive robot with advanced capabilities.”

RoboCORE is a combination of software and hardware, packaged in a sleek, heart-shaped device. Unlike other robotics systems, RoboCORE allows users to control or code from anywhere in the world, as well as stream both audio and video. RoboCORE’s rich peripherals, high-performance CPU and intuitive software enable robot makers to create without limits.

Building simple telepresence robots with a RoboCORE module is easy. Consumers can simply use old smartphones and tablets to control the robot by connecting them to an app, and then connect the construction with a cloud app, using a Wi-Fi or mobile (3G, LTE) network. The cloud-based RoboCORE app is a hub for managing all robots. Users can log in through a web browser, program and control the robot, and even share their project with friends.

RoboCORE will be useful for a variety of business settings and in solving real human problems. The module is also ideal for students and hobbyists, who will now be able to create and design complicated constructions that were previously impossible to build inexpensively, or without advanced programming skills. In addition, RoboCORE is compatible with any mechanics system, including pieces from popular LEGO® MINDSTORMS® sets.

The small (115×125 mm for the basic version, 82×82 mm for mini) device conceals a number of components with high scaling capabilities. Internal components include the Cortex-M4 core microcontroller, Intel Edison miniature computer with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, DC engine ports with encoders, sensor ports, extension modules (for instance, for servomechanisms), a slot for microSD cards, and a microUSB socket. On Kickstarter, Husarion is also presenting the RoboCORE-mini, an even smaller module with basic features for beginners, as well as extensions.

 “We believe that today’s consumer robotics is at the same development stage as the computer industry in the late 1970’s. Not many people then appreciated young electronics enthusiasts. Now, it’s similar with robot makers,” says Radoslaw Jarema, CTO of Husarion. “We’ve created RoboCORE because we know that the world is on the eve of another technological revolution. The age of the personal computer has been here for a while—and now it’s time for personal robots. We hope that the Kickstarter community will receive our project well and support it.”

Dash & Dot by Wonder Workshop

Wonder Workshop makes learning to code meaningful and fun for children. Dash & Dot, a pair of robots, combine play and learning for children ages 5 and up. For more information, visit our website at http://makewonder.com.

Dash is an explorer.
• Drives around.
• Senses objects in front and behind.
• Hears and responds to sounds.
• Comes to life with sound, lights, and head motion.

Dot is an instigator.
• Responds to how it is moved.
• Sends a signal for Dash to see where it is.
• Hears and responds to sounds.
• Transforms with sounds, lights, and imagination.

Dash & Dot connect wirelessly over Bluetooth and come with four iPad and Android experiences:

  • Go gets you started and exploring the world of Dash & Dot in no time. Simply connect with Bluetooth and get off and running. This app is a portal for online ideas and content.

  • Path takes Dash on adventures as kids draw a path for Dash to take. Unlock themes and special animations. This app teaches basic sequencing and event- based programming.

  • Blockly is a visual programming tool that lets kids control Dash & Dot, making them move and interact with each other. This app teaches sequencing, events, conditionals, and loops.

  • Xylo is a music app that uses the xylophone accessory. Compose songs and program Dash to move around while playing music. This app teaches sequencing and loops.

Accessories for Dash & Dot help give them additional looks and abilities. They include a xylophone, a pusher bar, a smartphone mount (to take videos with any smartphone), bunny ears, and a tow hook.

Dash is $199. The Wonder Pack, including all robots and accessories, is $349. They are available for purchase at the Wonder Workshop website here: http://makewonder.com.

Open Roberta – Programmieren ist ein Kinderspiel

Unter dem Motto »Jeder kann programmieren – mit Open Roberta!« stellen Fraunhofer-Experten heute ihre neue, internetbasierte Programmierplattform »Open Roberta« vor. Kostenlos und interaktiv können Schülerinnen und Schüler eigene Programme für Roboter erstellen und mit anderen teilen. Diese offene Lernumgebung soll mehr Mädchen und Jungen für Technik begeistern. Sie entsteht in Partnerschaft mit Google und unter der Schirmherrschaft des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung BMBF.

Intelligente Roboter, selbstfahrende Autos, Smartphones als Assistenten des Menschen – in unserer Gesellschaft sind digitale Technologien allgegenwärtig. »Um unsere digitale Welt zu gestalten, brauchen wir kluge Köpfe – junge Menschen, die Technik verstehen, Software programmieren und innovative Lösungen finden. Ich freue mich, dass heute dieses spannende und vielseitige Projekt startet«, sagt Prof. Dr. Alexander Kurz, Fraunhofer-Vorstand für Personal, Recht und Verwertung.

Das Projekt erweitert die Fraunhofer-Initiative »Roberta – Lernen mit Robotern«, die Kinder und Jugendliche spielerisch an Naturwissenschaften und Technik heranführt. »Open Roberta verbindet das erfolgreiche, pädagogische Roberta-Konzept mit einer innovativen technischen Lernumgebung, die das Programmieren lernen leicht macht und offen ist für spannende, kreative Experimente«, sagt Prof. Dr. Stefan Wrobel, Leiter des Fraunhofer-Instituts für Intelligente Analyse- und Informationssysteme IAIS. Die IAIS-Experten entwickeln Open Roberta mit Unterstützung von Google. Das Unternehmen hat für das Projekt eine Million Euro für zwei Jahre bereit gestellt. »Google setzt sich seit vielen Jahren und mit vielen Initiativen für die Förderung von Informatik in Bildung und Ausbildung sowie von Open-Source-Software ein. Wir freuen uns sehr, unser Engagement mit Open Roberta auf eine noch breitere Basis zu stellen«, erläutert Google-Entwicklungschef Dr. Wieland Holfelder das Engagement des IT-Konzerns.

Jeder kann programmieren – mit »Open Roberta«

Im Projekt »Open Roberta« entwickeln die Fraunhofer-Forscher eine frei verfügbare, cloudbasierte grafische Software, die Kindern und Jugendlichen mit Spaß und ohne technische Hürden das Programmieren ermöglicht – von ersten Programmierschritten bis hin zur Entwicklung intelligenter LEGO MINDSTORMS Roboter mit vielerlei Sensoren und Fähigkeiten. Dabei spielt es zukünftig keine Rolle, ob man vom Computer, Tablet oder Smartphone aus auf die Plattform zugreift. Sie lässt sich einfach über den Internetbrowser aufrufen, speichert die geschriebenen Programme in der Cloud und macht aufwändige Software-Updates überflüssig. Davon profitieren besonders Schulen, da deren IT-Wartung häufig mit großem administrativem Aufwand verbunden ist und viele Einrichtungen oftmals nicht über ausreichende Mittel für leistungsstarke Rechner verfügen. Die internetbasierte Software wird es auch ermöglichen, sowohl in der Schule als auch zuhause an eigenen Programmen zu arbeiten, sie mit anderen zu teilen und sie unabhängig von Ort und Zeit gemeinsam weiterzuentwickeln. Für Lehrkräfte stehen demnächst Tutorials für die Arbeit mit Open Roberta bereit, die auf die unterschiedlichen Interessen von Mädchen und Jungen eingehen.

Der Nachwuchs von heute programmiert für den Nachwuchs von morgen

Die Open-Roberta-Software ist zur Zeit im Beta-Stadium und wird Open Source weiterentwickelt. Im nächsten Schritt beziehen die IT-Experten vom IAIS Lehrkräfte, IT- und Bildungsexperten aus dem Roberta-Netzwerk sowie Hochschulen und ihre Studierenden aktiv in die Entwicklungsarbeiten ein. »Somit stärkt das Projekt gleichzeitig die Zusammenarbeit mit Hochschulen und fördert die praktische Programmiererfahrung von Studierenden«, erläutert Wrobel. Mitte 2015 wird die Software ohne Einschränkungen für alle zugänglich sein und sich zum Beispiel um die Programmierung weiterer Robotersysteme erweitern lassen. Sowohl die Software als auch die Open-Source-Entwicklertools stehen über Fraunhofer-Server bereit. Zudem können Schülerinnen und Schüler aus ganz Deutschland über Ideenworkshops und Wettbewerbe aktiv die Open-Roberta-Programmierumgebung mitgestalten.

Im Kontext von Open Roberta führt das Fraunhofer IAIS auch seine langjährige Zusammenarbeit mit LEGO Education fort. LEGO Education stellt 160 Roberta-Baukästen für die weitere Verbreitung von Open Roberta in den Bundesländern zur Verfügung. In Zusammenarbeit mit der Initiative »Jeder kann programmieren. Start Coding« und der Initiative D21 stellen die Kooperationspartner ihr Projekt am 4. November 2014 in Berlin erstmals der Öffentlichkeit vor.

Die Initiative »Roberta – Lernen mit Robotern«

»Roberta – Lernen mit Robotern« ist ein Bildungsprogramm, das Kinder und Jugendliche bereits seit über zehn Jahren für Naturwissenschaften und Technik begeistert. Es wurde 2002 durch das IAIS und mit Förderung des BMBF ins Leben gerufen. Jährlich erreicht die Roberta-Initiative in über 800 dokumentierten Roberta-Kursen mehr als 30 000 Kinder und Jugendliche. Ein umfassendes Schulungskonzept sowie gendergerechte Lehr- und Lernmaterialien unterstützen Lehrkräfte dabei, naturwissenschaftlich-technische Themen spielerisch zu vermitteln. Regionale RobertaRegioZentren sowie zertifizierte Roberta-Teacher bilden ein europäisches Netzwerk für den Erfahrungsaustausch und die Weiterentwicklung des Roberta-Konzepts.

Weitere Informationen:

www.open-roberta.org

www.roberta-home.de

www.google.org

education.lego.com

BlocksCAD Teaches Children Math and Programming while they Design their Own Toys

Have you ever discovered that you can’t find the exact toy your child wants? Your daughter loves robots, but she wants them to be pink. Your son wants a length of track for his race car set that doesn’t exist. Your nephew loves elephants and wants his own My Little Elephant set.
You could find someone with a 3D printer and a good grasp of CAD to design a novel toy for you.

But why do that when you can let creative children do it themselves?

BlocksCAD, a new application  developed by Einstein’s Workshop, helps children as young as eight to design and create their own toys.
Einstein’s Workshop launched a Kickstarter campaign on September 6, 2014, to fund further development and release it under an open source license, free to everyone, everywhere.

BlocksCAD uses a simple drag-and-drop interface to create designs for 3D objects. It offers basic geometric shapes: cube, sphere, cylinder, cone, etc. Kids can combine these shapes to create their own unique toys. They assemble the building blocks of the object, like snapping together LEGO or assembling a jigsaw puzzle. The interface is so simple, even third-graders can use it.

Students have used BlocksCAD to create a wide range of objects, from doll furniture to Daleks, snowmen to strategy game pieces, rings to rocket ships. Annie, 10, is designing a table. She opens BlocksCAD and selects a rectangular block, thin and flat, to form the tabletop. She drags in another rectangular solid and makes it long and skinny – a table leg. Then she copies the leg three times and positions them to support the table. She saves her design and sends it off to a nearby 3D printer. Soon, the table is finished, three inches tall, just right for her dollhouse. She turns back to the computer and begins to design a chair.

Einstein’s Workshop, a STEM education startup in Burlington, MA, developed BlocksCAD to address a specific need. “We were seeing a lot of demand for 3D printing classes for younger children,” says Rebecca Rapoport, COO and co-owner of Einstein’s Workshop. “When we tried it out, we found that kids younger than fifth or sixth grade really struggled.
“On our staff, we have some talented developers who are also educators and experienced fabricators. So when we saw a need for software that’s easy for younger students to use, we did exactly what we encourage our students to do: we built it ourselves.”

“It’s a wonderful way to teach the practical side of math,” says Creative Director Katy Hamilton. “We can tell students that variables are useful, or how to describe a parabola, or we can give them real, concrete reasons to learn these concepts.”
The development team think BlocksCAD could be useful in schools and makerspaces everywhere.
“That’s one of the reasons we chose to do a Kickstarter,” says Henry Houh, president and founder of Einstein’s Workshop. “Not just to raise funds to make this application even better but also to get the word out that it’s going to be open source and freely available to the public.”

Einstein’s Workshop hopes to raise at least $42,000 by October 4, 2014. They offer a wide range of rewards to contributors, from T-shirts and 3D-printed models of the BlocksCAD mascot, The Blockhead, to a training class anywhere in the continental U.S. To support BlocksCAD, please visit the Kickstarter page at http://www.einsteinsworkshop.com/blockscad