Page 20 - FIS World Feb 2019
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 The FIS Robotics Challenge
Where do we want to go?
Robotics Club advisor, Vafa Anderson, works with club members in assembling their new REV robot
Every Friday after school, there is a group of students in Grades 6 to 9 who are not rushing home to get the weekend started. Instead, they
head to the Upper School’s Design and Technology Makerspace, where they gather as members of the FIS Robotics Club – designers, mechanics, communicators, printers and coders.
The FIS Robotics Club started in 2017 with a group of students who were introduced to EV3 robots: DIY smart machines from Lego Mindstorms. The platform combines traditional modular Lego brick hardware with simple block coding software that allows kids to build and program a robot easily.
The EV3 is now being used across the Elementary School and in Grades 6–8 as a tool to teach computational thinking and coding skills.
There is a global community of people of all ages involved in idea-sharing, collaborations, contests and competitions surrounding Lego Mindstorms. This year, the FIS Robotics Club will head to the FIRST Tech Challenge at the International School of Stuttgart in March with a brand new robot and all the skills they have acquired in the last year. Upper School ICT Coordinators and Robotics Club advisors Vafa Anderson and Dianna Pratt are aiming high for the competition and share a bit of background:
“Last year we had 14 students join the club, most of whom had little or no experience programming or working with robots. Then, the Lycée Français
Victor Hugo in Frankfurt invited us to take part in their robotics competition. We prepared for weeks, learning, brainstorming, and programming advanced functionalities for the color sensor, gyroscope and ultrasonic sensor. We tested again and again, refining our robots’ design and code to solve issues as fast and efficiently as possible. We learned so much and went into the competition with confidence, but we hadn’t properly assessed the difficulty of the challenge.”
There were over 200 students at the event. During practice sessions, the FIS rookie team watched in awe as a few other teams completed tasks with lightning speed. It recalibrated their assessment of the competition and drew them back to work with renewed focus and motivation to make the code even sharper. At the competition, the first challenge appeared easy: get a robot to follow
a line around a simple course as fast as possible. With their sharper design and skills from the practice sessions, the FIS team made it through several rounds and finished in the top 16.
“We are really proud of our result,” says Mr. Anderson. “These were students who had little experience
with coding or robotics mere weeks before. It was an amazing experience and it motivated us to aim even higher this year.”
This year’s competition challenges will be more complex and will require higher levels of robot design and coding abilities. With the new REV
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