Friday, December 12, 2014

Dot and Dash–My New Robots

I got some robots the other night. Dot and Dash come from Wonder Workshop which is a Kickstarter project I backed. That is Dot on the right and Dash on the left in the picture below.


Right now I am programing them using a version of Blockly for iOS. I guess it is a good thing I picked up that iPad a while back. More APIs and a version for Android are promised. There are several apps for iOS available besides Blockly. Blockly seems about right for my students though.

Since I just got them I haven’t fully thought out how I will use them yet. I did demo them for a couple of classes though. We talked about how simple the instructions were especially compared to the process people use for walking around a room. And we talked about limited sensors as well as interpreting data from sensors.

The students like them immediately. Emile RobotsThe girls all think they are cute. The boys are a little more reserved but are also interested in them. I had one student come into the computer lab during his free period. I did a demo and the next thing I knew the iPad was in his hands and he was figuring out Blockly and getting the robot (Dash) to move a round in different ways.

I think that they will attract interest from a lot of students. There are many students who get more excited moving physical objects around than they do moving pixels around on the screen. These robots may be a good way to motivate and interest those students.

Now if only there was a Windows API. Or perhaps a TouchDevelop interface. A guy can dream.


Garth said...

I have some Mindstorms robots sitting around collecting dust. I have found a Python driver for them. Next semester the sophomores are going to do turtle graphics with them. I better get some rolls of butcher paper or the janitors will be a bit upset. I love toys, especially when kids have to think in order to play with them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alfred,

I found your blog through a repost by the ACM.

I was wondering how you felt about featuring a comic about Grace Hopper? this comic in that section?

It's a fun and easily digestible comic that spreads the word about Grace's awesomeness.

The aim is to inspire more young women to pursue careers in Computer Science.

Let me know what you think.

Ramya (at) udemy (dot) com


Alfred C Thompson II said...

Loved the story of Grace Hopper. Will include it in my links post on Monday.