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Lego Mindstorms Robotics in a (Very) Small Liberal Arts College Ellen Walker Computer Science Dept. Hiram College.

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Presentation on theme: "Lego Mindstorms Robotics in a (Very) Small Liberal Arts College Ellen Walker Computer Science Dept. Hiram College."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lego Mindstorms Robotics in a (Very) Small Liberal Arts College Ellen Walker Computer Science Dept. Hiram College

2 Hiram College Environment zResidential, undergraduate liberal arts college zAround 875 students, More than 50% women zPopular majors are education, management and biology z4 CS faculty, about 35 traditional majors

3 Mindstorms Robots at Hiram zAlumni gift in 1999: 6 kits zFirst-year colloquium courses: 1999, 2003 zArtificial Intelligence student project: 2000 zWould like to use in other courses… … but see Constraints later

4 First-year Colloquium (FRCL) zGeneral education course, chosen by topic (independent of major) zMaximum 15 students per section zWriting across the curriculum (also critical reading, presentation) zIntroduction to college life, liberal arts

5 Colloquium Assignments zOral presentation: Robot Article zPaper: Fantasy Robot zPaper: Research Proposal zJournal: Mindstorms Lab Notebook zGroup oral presentation: Our Robot y Recycling Challenge y Robot Pet Show

6 Mindstorms in the Colloquium z9-12 class hours for robot labs zLab exercises yStructural integrity (weak box / strong box) yDrive train, programming (draw a square) yProgramming with sensors (follow the road) yTeam Design & Programming Challenge

7 1999 Robot Recycling Competition

8 2003 Robot Pet Show

9 Changes from 1999 to 2003 zScience fiction theme -> Robot friend zCompetition format to exhibition format yInspired by Turbak & Berg Robot Design Studio yHoped to attract more women (but did not) zMerge teams after first 3 labs for final project y2 kits for more creative projects zEarlier introduction of Mindstorms… y… but never enough time in lab!

10 Whats Next? zWould like to use robots more! yAI, CS 1, New robot course… zHope to stay current with hardware, software & curriculum zVery small liberal arts colleges must deal with many constraints…

11 Constraints: Money zExternal donation bought first kits zNo budget for maintenance yUpgrades yReplacement parts yBatteries (covered by Colloquium slush fund) zCover with lab fees?

12 Constraints: Time zSmall college faculty must be generalists zNever enough time to perfect a course z5-6 preparations per year zMost courses taught every 2-3 years y9-12 preparations over a 3 year period yMajor revisions needed every 2-3 times

13 Constraints: Staffing zNo graduate students (TA or RA) zLimited availability of undergraduate TAs yAll course alumni have graduated yException: first-year courses, including Colloquium zNo departmental laboratory staff zHW / SW too specialized for college computer center staff

14 Constraints: Space zNo dedicated labs, just general purpose classrooms yRobots in locked closet when not in use yStudents keep kits at home during project time yLab use after hours requires faculty / TA supervision

15 Questions?


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