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Topöi 2014: Machines

Every year my last school, European School Brussels 3, organises presentations and a day of events called 'Topöi' which focuses on a particular theme. The theme for 2014 was 'Machines' and this tied in brilliantly with my classes' work on ROBOTS for, of course, 

Machines + ICT = Robots!

Robotics is in fact one of five domains that are expected to revolutionise our lives in the coming years, along with nanotechnology, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and ubiquitous computing (computers in everything). My students have had philosophical discussions about how robots are likely to impact our lives in the coming decades. We have discussed issues like whether robots will have feelings, whether they will take our jobs (yes!), whether robots will replace us and perhaps even make us become extinct. Will it soon be illegal for humans to drive cars once robotic (self-driving) cars have learnt to drive much more safely than we can? Will robots be able to help look after the expanding population of old people on this planet?

Students have also worked with several Lego EV3 robots that the school bought recently and have learned how to program them. Here are videos made by my students. Well done everyone!

Robot-controlled Robot
Two students demonstrate how two Lego EV3 robots can be connected together via a Bluetooth connection such that one robot can then control the other. The students then explain how the program works, block by block.

Robot grabs object when it detects a colour

These students have programmed their EV3 robot so that it grabs an object when it detects a green or red patch on the floor. To do this the robot is equipped with a colour sensor, an ultrasound sensor (to detect when it is close to the object) and a gripper attachment. I think the program shown at the end is not quite the same as the one described in the audio for the program shown seems to be set to look only for green.

Wall Follower

These students have spent a lesson or two programming their Lego EV3 robot. This robot uses an ultrasonic sensor to measure the distance between the robot and the wall. The program makes the robot turn towards the wall if it is 'too far' from it, and vice versa.

Robot seeks coloured patches

The robot below moves forward using a colour sensor to detect either a red or green patch on the ground. If it detects a green patch it says 'Good job' then turns then says 'Uh-ah'. If it detects a red patch it says 'Game over' then drives straight forward then says 'Ouch'. The program has an infinite loop so the robot continues looking for coloured patches indefinitely. A tiny video camera was mounted on the robot to make this video.

Voice-controlled robot

This project below uses a touch sensor to know when it should start listening, a sound sensor (microphone) to measure the noise level and a gripper attachment. A loud sound causes the robot to turn right before advancing and grabbing the object, while silence causes the robot to look for an object on the left side.

Voice-controlled robot (the sequel)

This video below was made by students who were not able to film their own project (controlling an EV3 robot with a smartphone) and who therefore used footage of the project of another group.

And here is the same video that is on my home page, in case you missed it: