Older blog entries for sgmcclellan (starting at number 2)

Yesterday, I did my robotics club presentation and passed out the permission slips for the seventh and eighth grade children. The presentation looked good (my wife even did a custom logo for the club) and went very smoothly with good audience participation. The question and answer period brought up some very interesting questions and there was quite a bit of excitement. Of course there is always someone who asks "Can I build a robot to clean my room?" I was just like that a long time ago, but now I am working towards building robots for minimizing handicaps for people with disabilities.

The school really played up the "must" be there for every meeting and I think that scared off some of the fence- sitters and people involved in after school sports from wanting to join. I can understand their point of view though as I am the only volunteer and the meetings are subject to my schedule. Sports programs have a regular schedule. I am looking for adult volunteers to join the club so that we can begin to have regularly scheduled meetings. Anyone interested? Any sponsors out there so that we can expand the program?

We still have room in the class so we are going to open it up to the fifth and sixth grades. That may represent a bit of a challenge if there is a gap in the maturity level, but if it does we can always break the teams up according to age. Opening this up to the younger children also means that I will have another one of my children in the club.

Our theme for the year is the same one as the First Lego League which is "No Limits" (basically building robots to remove limits placed on people with disabilities.) Some of the children got really excited about that but what really surprised me was one of the teachers. The teacher asked me about robotic vision and was hoping that we would have one project along those lines. It turns out that that teacher has a relative that has impaired vision and would like to know more about ways to mitigate that handicap.

Tomorrow is our first club meeting and it should be really interesting because of a continuous string of mess-ups from the Lego educational division. We still don't have our equipment yet and while they promised to send it overnight, I don't have much hope that it will arrive. I live in a real remote area and overnight shipping really means two-day shipping. Oh well, I will have to use my personal equipment for the class.

OK, I met with the principal and we have the final go- ahead for the club. We are going to introduce the program to the seventh and eighth graders on Nov. 30 and have our first meeting on Dec. 2.

We will be meeting every Thursday for about an hour to get started. After we get going, I'm going to suggest that we meet every Tues. and Thurs. for an hour. If it turns out that we don't get enough interest in the seventh and eighth grades, then we will open it up to the sixth grade as well. We have enough equipment and support for about 15 students.

Hopefully, after our first meeting, I will have some robot related posts that I can add to this diary. I'm particularly interested in the student responses because this will open a new view of the sciences for them. We are also going to be writing down observations and keeping a journal.

Well, after a couple of weeks we finally received our grant. We ordered the robot parts and software for the robot club and have started working on the curriculum. The last step is to meet with the principal and have him OK the details. We will probably meet just once a week to start.

If anybody else is interested in starting a robot club at their school, I would be happy to share the information that I have. I can also provide you with some pretty compelling language for you to use in obtaining your grant. There seems to be plenty of money out there for worthwhile school programs so there is probably a grant in your local area just waiting for someone to apply for it.

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