Saturday, December 20, 2014

Should a robot fly Coach, Business, First Class, or Cargo Hold?

Great little article from Daily Mail...


The robot that's going on HOLIDAY! Athena becomes the first robot to buy a seat on a passenger plane - and 'she' even has her own passport

  • The robot, dubbed Athena, was created by German roboticists 
  • It is the first humanoid robot to have paid for a seat on a passenger plane
  • Athena was checked onto a flight from Los Angeles International Airport
  • It was pushed in a wheelchair, dressed in a shirt and sneakers, onto Lufthansa flight number 9801
  • Owner Alexander Herzog is taking Athena to Germany to teach it to walk
  • It will be developed at the Max Planck Institute for Computational Learning and Motor Control Laboratory..."
It’s quite common for celebrities to cause a stir as they board flights in Los Angeles, but a very different kind of passenger excited paps at the airport today.
Athena became the first humanoid robot to have paid for a seat on a passenger plane when it boarded a Lufthansa flight to Germany.
The robot even had to check-in and collect its tickets before being strapped into the flight..."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Jobs for Robots, YES... Jobs for Humans???

"As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up

A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published. Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years – allowing machines to mimic the human mind – are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.

And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago – and lower than any point in the 1990s..."

Read the full article at its source:               

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Soon, Robots Will Take Care of Old People.

The shape of life in the near future? It sure beats "I've fallen and I can't get up!"

"About Accompany Project
The proposed ACCOMPANY system will consist of a robotic companion as part of an intelligent environment, providing services to elderly users in a motivating and socially acceptable manner to facilitate independent living at home. The ACCOMPANY system will provide physical, cognitive and social assistance in everyday home tasks, and will contribute to the re-ablement of the user, i.e. assist the user in being able to carry out certain tasks on his/her own."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Finally, A Low Cost Student Robot for the Kids of the World!

"Harvard Researchers Build $10 Robot That Can Teach Kids to Code"

"Mike Rubenstein wants to put robots in the classroom.

Working with two other researchers at Harvard University, Rubenstein recently created what they call AERobot, a bot that can help teach programming and artificial intelligence to middle school kids and high schoolers. That may seem like a rather expensive luxury for most schools, but it’s not. It costs just $10.70. The hope is that it can help push more kids into STEM, studies involving science, technology, engineering, and math.

The tool is part of a widespread effort to teach programming and other computer skills to more children, at earlier stages. It’s called the code literacy movement, and it includes everything from new and simpler programming languages to children’s books that teach coding concepts.
Rubenstein’s project grew out of the 2014 AFRON Challenge, held back in January, which called for researchers to design low-cost robotic systems for education in the developing world. Part of Harvard’s Self-Organizing Systems Research Group, Rubstein has long studied swarm robotics, which aims to create herds of tiny robots that can behave as whole, and he ended up adapting one of his swarm systems in order to build AERobot. It’s a single machine—not a swarm bot—but it’s built from many of the same inexpensive materials.

He and his colleagues assembled most of the electronics with a pick-and-place machine—a machine that automatically builds printed circuit boards—and in order to further cut costs, they used vibration motors for locomotion and left out a chassis. The device doesn’t include its own programming interface or charger. It gets both from a desktop or laptop computer, plugging into the USB port. “There are no extra frills,” Rubenstein says..."

Read the full article at its source:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Using LEGO materials for Common Core Math Instruction

Interesting article (from EdTech K-12) on LEGO's recent announcement about the impending release of an item to address Common Core Instructional needs. I don't see why this idea can't successfully be extended to LEGO Robotics and Math Instruction in higher grades, as well. Seems like instructional magic waiting to happen, to me.


"New Lego Classroom Tool Is Building a Bridge to Common Core Readiness

Lego Group’s education division announced Wednesday that it is preparing to release MoreToMath, a package of 48 block-based exercises that target first- and second-grade math coursework.
The product comes at a time when many elementary school teachers are adapting to tougher standards for mathematics. The new Common Core standards encourage critical thinking, collaboration, technology use and digging deeper into the concepts behind the subject matter.
MoreToMath was designed to help students grasp math problems by modeling them with blocks and solving the problems in creative ways, says Leshia Hoot, Lego Education's senior segment manager for preschool and elementary education.
“We had educators saying they were really struggling with these (Common Core) math practices,” Hoot says. “We designed this to support those practices and real-world problem-solving using Lego bricks.”

Lego's curriculum development team, which is composed of former educators, created the exercises. The instructions are divided into solo and team-based exercises, allowing for differentiated learning. They also incorporate interactive whiteboard software that helps an entire class of students learn together. Using the included Mathbuilder software, teachers can also create their own activities.
In one of the simpler activities, students must construct a snake using only five bricks.
"You quickly realize there are multiple ways of solving this problem, and you have to think through the underlying counting and sequencing to solve it," Hoot says."

Read the full article at its source:


Robotics represent 3 out of 5 suggested tools for STEM Instruction on ISTE website!

Nice little article from ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education)

"5 STEM tools you can use for any subject

By Manorama Talaiver, Paula Klonowski Leach and Stephanie Playton 9/23/2014 Topics: STEM, Maker movement
Exposing students to STEM experiences can be an extremely engaging and effective way to foster the skills they will need in a global, competitive workplace. But don’t save these activities for science or math class. You can incorporate STEM learning tools in all core content areas to encourage critical thinking, collaboration and creativity while reinforcing valuable skills.
Of course, even for the most experienced STEM educators, picking the right tools can be tricky. To make it easier, we’ve come up with some factors that will help you choose the most appropriate and effective STEM tools for your classroom.
Grade level
Before settling on a tool, you should consider not only your students’ cognitive abilities, but also their motor skill development.
Squishy CircuitsSquishy Circuits (right) is a wonderful tool to teach very young students about basic concepts in electricity using conductive dough. Students can easily manipulate the materials and get the circuit to work.
MaKey MaKeyMaKey MaKey is a tool for slightly older children. With MaKey MaKey, students can make any conductive material act as the input device for a computer. Because it comes preprogrammed, students with no coding experience can use it. But MaKey MaKey also allows those who want to try coding to experiment.
LilyPadLilyPad Arduino (right), a sewable microcontroller, also reinforces concepts about electricity but is geared more toward older children, as the manual dexterity for sewing the components may be a bit challenging for young students. The LilyPad is also a wonderful introduction to some basic coding using the Arduino platform.
Subject area
You also need to think about what tool will work best for your subject area.
Finch RobotFinch Robot (left) is appropriate if your intent is to teach basic coding very quickly. This robot is ready out of the box and can support more than a dozen programming languages and environments.
Hummingbird Robotics KitHummingbird Robotics Kit (right) also allows students to develop basic programming but is different from Finch in that it offers users great flexibility and creativity in designing their robots.
If you don’t have enough time in a core content class to use these tools to their full potential, consider teaming up with your technology or computer science teacher to develop collaborative learning projects focused on a particular concept.
When factoring in the cost of these tools, make sure you don’t forget any extra materials you’ll need and whether the items can be reused.
Some tools, such as the Finch Robot, Squishy Circuits and MaKey MaKey, can be used many times by different students. After purchasing the kit, additional costs — such as buying ingredients for making dough or supplying conductive materials for students to explore — are typically minor.

Other tools, such as LilyPad Arduino and Hummingbird, are generally an annual expense because reusing them requires destroying existing projects.

Finding STEM learning tools that will fit your students’ needs, as well as your budget and time constraints, lets you provide learning experiences sure to engage your students while inspiring them to practice creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.
Manorama Talaiver, Ph.D., is the director of the Institute for Teaching through Technology & Innovative Practices at Longwood University in Virginia. Her leadership in offering STEM learning opportunities for students and teachers has resulted in many national and international awards. Mano has been a member of ISTE for more than 25 years.
Paula Klonowski Leach, Ed.D., is a STEM learning specialist at the Institute for Teaching through Technology & Innovative Practices at Longwood University in Virginia. She has been an educator for 17 years and enjoys working with teachers to introduce them to new technologies and strategies that provide engaging opportunities for students.
Stephanie Playton is a STEM learning specialist at the Institute for Teaching through Technology & Innovative Practices at Longwood University in Virginia. As a former classroom teacher and instructional technology teacher, she is passionate about finding technology tools that support a creative learning environment."