Middle School Micromouse Robotics Module at ASRA

posted Jun 20, 2014, 7:47 PM by Michael Backus   [ updated Jun 25, 2014, 7:51 AM ]
June Micromouse Robotics Module at ASRA
During the first two weeks of June I drove up to Fairbanks to offer a Micromouse Robotics module through the Alaska Summer Research Academy. It was a lot of work and I definitely missed spending time with my family, but it was also a lot of fun and I got to work with a great group of kids. On the first day, I asked everyone whether they had taken time to work through some freely available online coding resources (code.org) that I had suggested. Almost everyone had completed the entire curriculum!

I've been teaching robotics at ASRA for nearly a decade. In all that time, I've never had such a young group learn so much. They delved right in and learned about variables, functions, loops, classes, and more. While the Udemy course certainly helped to make this possible, the module was a success in large part because of my co-instructor Michael Hellings and student intern Jasper Holton. Mr. Hellings tended to help students with their soldering/wiring while Jasper was available to help with programming. Jasper also spent a great deal of time testing out Parallax's new high speed servos and some methods for adding encoders.

By the end of camp, everyone had fully functional sensors and had implemented proportional control. Most went further and developed obstacle avoidance and labyrinth solving algorithms. One cracked the code and came up with a robot capable of solving the maze! Needless to say I was very impressed. It just goes to show what our kids are capable of.