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Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 1 at Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

Greetings from Pittsburgh!  It has been a strenuous day of growing my brain in which I have had lots of opportunities to make mistakes!  We started off receiving special security badges to be in the building as it also houses Department of Defence projects that are national security risks.  As Canadians we are not permitted to go anywhere in the building without an escort.  Yes, that even includes washroom breaks!

We started off with a few different presentations about the importance of robotics -- a transformative technology that is changing the way we live and work.  There is a major problem in North America right now... we don't have the human power/resources to maintain the systems that have been developed.  We need more kids to pursue careers in computer science.  As teachers we have to learn how to use the motivational effects of robotics to excite children to study science, technology, and math.

We were given several challenges today.  The first one was quite simple -- we had use proportional distances to adjust the duration and to change the distance our NXT travelled.  In this challenge we had to drive our robot as close as possible to a LEGO minifigure without knocking it down at a distance of 30cm, 60cm, and 90cm.

The second challenge was a lot tougher!  We had to use unit rate and program our robot to drive over five different targets in only 8 attempts.  There were obstacles, speed restrictions, and a lot of calculations required to solve this challenge!

Shortly after we arrived this morning, there was an influx of people in suits and police officers taking notes.  The buzz quickly circulated that Barack Obama is coming to the National Robotics Engineering Center, Carnie Mellon Robotics Institute on Friday to tour the facilities...unfortunately the Canadian teachers are a national security risk and he will be arriving after we leave!

Hope that you all had a great day of learning with Ms. Dickie.  I can't wait to hear about your visit with St. John's Ambulance and the band testing!  Haris and Nakaya, feel free to send me an e-mail at and I can post it to the blog for you.