At 11:02 AM -0400 10/9/10, Kaperick, Joe wrote:
>All very cool ideas and thoughts about ways to have the robot
>navigate and cover specific distances repeatably. My one concern,
>especially for the newer coaches, is that these methods shouldn't be
>handed to the team "pre-packaged". At best, they should be observing
>the problems with using a timed setting and brainstorming ideas for ways
>to make it better.
Absolutely right! The coach's job is to create a setting wherein the
kids can brainstorm and problem-solve. And also to make available, or
teach, the basic skills that the kids to draw upon.
By this point in the season the coach (or at least one coach) of a
novice team should be reasonably knowledgeable and proficient at
programming. And probably has a pretty good idea of the level of
aptitude of the team, and therefore which programming skills are
likely within their grasp. We've found that it's useful to have some
skill-building sessions in which we discuss some basic skills (not
specifically related to this year's missions) on programming skills,
use of sensors, program strategy, etc.
On the subject of driving strategy, we brainstorm early in the season
about different ways to drive. The kids invariably decide that the
rotation sensor is the best tool for accurate driving. We then gently
guide them to the idea of predicting the distances (using a
calibration of inches-per-rotation) before sitting down to program.
Later in the season, as time gets tight and kids are competing for
time on the computer, we've enforced the rule of having the
programming steps written down beforehand, including rotations.
Invariably they'll have to make small adjustments to the rotation
count, but it's much faster (and more satisfying to them!) to make
adjustments than to take blind stabs.
For kids with some decent math skills, we've also held brainstorming
sessions on turning strategy. The kids figure out that they can turn
the robot by moving one wheel, both wheels, one forward and one back,
and so forth. Once the realize that, it's a short step to realizing
that they can predict the amount of turn from wheel rotations, and
again save a lot of time by making educated predictions before
writing a program.
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