Closing Q1

We are now ready to close the books on the first quarter of the 2017/2018 school year. For the most part, I am pleased with the performance of my students in all classes.

Principles of Applied Engineering

This is the first year we are offering Principles of Applied Engineering. It serves as the gateway course for our STEM – Engineering program. This course is based upon the curriculum from the Goodheart-Wilcox textbook titled Engineering Fundamentals – Design, Principles, and Careers (Second Edition).

Here is how my Principles of Applied Engineering classes stacked up:

A B C F
PAE1 15 (63%) 7 (29%) 0 (0%) 2 (8%)
PAE5 7 (28%) 13 (52%) 2 (8%) 3 (12%)
PAE TOTAL 22 (45%) 20 (41%) 2 (4%) 5 (10%)

Robotics 1

This is second year we are offering Robotics 1. This course changed considerably from last year in that the course centers around the FIRST Tech Challenge program. We are able to cover about 80% of the TEKS for this course and Robotics 2 during the FTC competition season. The Robotics 1A class is stacked with the Robotics 2A class to form the FTC 11242 robotics team. The Robotics 1B class is stacked with the Robotics 2B class to form the FTC 12645 robotics team.

Here is how my Robotics 1 classes stacked up:

A B C F
ROB1A 15 (75%) 2 (10%) 3 (15%) 0 (0%)
ROB1B 20 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
ROB1 TOTAL 35 (88%) 2 (5%) 3 (8%) 0 (0%)

Robotics 2

This is first year we are offering Robotics 2. The course is a continuation of Robotics 1 (Robotics & Automation Programming). The Robotics 2A class is stacked with the Robotics 1A class to form the FTC 11242 robotics team. The Robotics 2B class is stacked with the Robotics 1B class to form the FTC 12645 robotics team.

Here is how my Robotics 2 classes stacked up:

A B C F
ROB2A 6 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
ROB2B 7 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
ROB2 TOTAL 13 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)

Computer Science 1

This is second year we are offering Computer Science 1. The course was completely redesigned for the 2017/2018 school year. It is modeled after the AP Computer Science Principles course to prepare students for the AP Computer Science – Principles Exam. This course is not offered as an AP course to allow students to receive LOTE credit.

Here is how my Computer Science 1 classes stacked up:

A B C F
CS1-2 10 (77%) 1 (8%) 1 (8%) 1 (8%)
CS1-4 14 (78%) 2 (11%) 2 (11%) 0 (0%)
CS1 TOTAL 24 (77%) 3 (10%) 3 (10%) 1 (3%)

Computer Science 2

This is the first year we are offering Computer Science 2. The course is offered as a LOTE credit and is using an adopted AP course syllabus to help prepare the students for the AP Computer Science – A Exam. This course is NOT offered as an AP course.

Here is how my Computer Science 2 class stacked up:

A B C F
CS2 6 (75%) 1 (13%) 1 (13%) 0 (0%)

Reflection

All things considered, this has been a very successful launch for the 2017/2018 school year. Given that 3 of the classes I am teaching (Computer Science 2, Robotics 2, and Principles of Applied Engineering) are all new courses to Ferris High School and Computer Science 1 is a completely redesigned course, I am very happy with how these grades are settling in.

I am thinking of establishing a minimum local math prerequisite for Principles of Applied Engineering starting in 2018/2019. For some of the failures I am having in that class are due to lagging math skills. We’re not to any genuine algebra yet, it’s all been simple conversions and calculations (e.g. Standard to Metric, Ratios, and Fractions to Decimals).

STEAM: Wisdom from the Front Lines

Region 10Today, I had the opportunity to attend a professional development entitled STEAM: Wisdom from the Front Lines that was held at Brookhaven College and coordinated by Education Service Center: Region 10.

The training brought together, in a single room, STEAM educators from secondary and higher ed in an Ed Camp formatted one-day conference. While K-12 and higher ed coordinate with each other at the higher levels, they rarely coordinate at the local level. Today was a first for many of us.

We got to hear what higher ed would like in our graduates and they gave us ideas on projects and programs that we could implement to get them there. It was very insightful and helpful.

On a selfish note, I have recruited an additional team to our robotics league from Faith Family Academy in Waxahachie!

El Dorado League

Tonight, we had the El Dorado League of North Texas coaches meeting. We had representatives from the majority of the teams present in addition to Dave Davis who was the former affiliate partner for North Texas.

We had a very productive meeting and made many good decisions for future years.

El Dorado League Map

Direct Map Link

The El Dorado League consists of 11 teams spanning a total area of 2,204 square miles!

We have the following teams in the league:

  • FTC 127 – Fighting Pickles
    • Ben Barber Innovation Academy – Mansfield, TX
  • FTC 5443 – Synergy
    • Harmony School of Innovation – Ft. Worth, TX
  • FTC 9402 – CyberSwarm
    • Henderson Junior High School – Stephenville, TX
  • FTC 9403 – Hive of Steel
    • Henderson Junior High School – Stephenville, TX
  • FTC 10143 – TBD
    • Harmony School of Innovation – Ft. Worth, TX
  • FTC 11085 – MHS
    • Mansfield High School – Mansfield, TX
  • FTC 11242 – ERROR 451
    • Ferris High School – Ferris, TX
  • FTC 12645 – The S.C.R.E.W. Ups
    • Ferris High School – Ferris, TX
  • FTC 12650 – Cannot Compute
    • Ferris Junior High School – Ferris, TX
  • FTC 12992 – RoboGladiators
    • Italy High School – Italy, TX
  • FTC 201701690 – Eagle Bots
    • Faith Family Academy – Waxahachie, TX

For the season, we have the following schedule:

Saturday, 21-October-2017 @ 9:00am
  League Scrimmage / Workshop
    Ben Barber Innovation Academy – Mansfield, TX
Saturday, 18-November-2017 @ 9:00am
  League Meet #1 of 3
    Ben Barber Innovation Academy – Mansfield, TX
Saturday, 09-December-2017 @ 9:00am
  League Meet #2 of 3
    Henderson Junior High School – Stephenville, TX
Saturday, 13-January-2018 @ 9:00am
  League Meet #3 of 3
    Italy High School – Italy, TX
Saturday, 20-January-2018 (LOCATION UNCONFIRMED)
  League Tournament
    Mansfield Center for the Performing Arts – Mansfield, TX

FTC Team Names

We now have team names for both of the FHS teams! One of the teams arrived at their name fairly quickly. The other has been debating a team name for the past two weeks!

Here is what we have for the 2017/2018 season.

  • Team: FTC 11242
  • Name: ERROR 451 – Not Available For Legal Reasons
  • Motto: Primo Victoria (First, To Victory)
  • Team: FTC 12645
  • Name: The S.C.R.E.W. Ups
  • Motto: Succeed, Conquer, Repeat Every Week

The graphics design students, under the leadership of Mrs. Hartman are creating tee-shirt designs for both teams to consider for the upcoming season!

FTC Relic Recovery

FIRST-FTC-RelicRecovery17-18-Color-840x700OK. I swear that I did not know anything about the game this year. I wrote a post on May 19th brainstorming what the Relic Recovery game could be. While my guess was off, one of my team building efforts (All Aboard) was pretty close to the balancing stones and the fact that we need a good strong manipulator arm.

This game looks intense at first, but after you decompress it, it’s not really that bad.

We’ve been able to ascertain that this game is not so much about speed of the robot in driving but about its ability to remain balanced with an arm reaching a considerable distance and the ability to build an arm that can accomplish the assigned tasks.

After we all had our “Oh My God!” moment, we started brainstorming and came up with some pretty good ideas. Now, it’s time to start prototyping!

FTC Team Building Efforts

This year I decided to dedicate a considerable amount of time to team building efforts. We start team building at our second meeting and ran through today.

Build a Burger

In this team building exercise, each student has part of a hamburger (printed on paper) taped to their back. They do not know what they have on their back. Some students have a top bun, some a bottom bun, some a beef patty, some are lettuce, some are tomato, one lone students is pickles, and some other are cheese. The purpose of the exercise is to line-up so that you are in order from top to bottom to build a hamburger.

The desired outcome of the exercise is that a leader emerges from the group to take charge of the situation.

Engineering Notebook Conundrum 

In this team building exercise, the students are introduced to a Google Doc which consists of a cover sheet for the team engineering notebook and a second blank page. The doc has been shared with all students they are all instructed to login, go to the second page, and enter their names. All students have editing rights. A completely chaotic environment emerges as students are typing over others and someone will accidentally or purposely delete some or all of the document.

The desired outcome of the exercise is similar to Build a Burger. It forces a leader to emerge from the group to take control of the situation.

All Aboard!

All Aboard - FTC 12645In this team building exercise, students have been stranded across a chain of small islands in the middle of the ocean.

As luck would have it, on the first island, which only has 1 students on it, there is a lifeboat. The lifeboat is two wooden pallets stacked on a center pivot elevated about 3 inches off the floor.

The lifeboat is considered “good” if all corners and sides are off the floor. The first students will be “picked-up” one-by-one on the lifeboat. Each time a student gets on, they must work to balance the lifeboat.

The desired outcome of this exercise is to foster open lines of communication and respect of ideas, regardless of whose idea it is.

Paper Tables

Paper TablesIn this team building exercise, students have to build a table that can, at a minimum, sustain the weight of 10 50-page engineering notebooks. For a challenge, the table should be able to hold the weight of a student.

The constraints of this project require that the base of the table be elevated a minimum of 4 inches from the ground and that the table be constructed of only paper and a limited amount of tape and hot glue. The time constraint is that the table must be built and tested within a single 90-minute class period.

The desired outcomes of this project are (1) foster open lines of communication and respect of ideas, regardless of whose idea it is and (2) solve an engineering problem given limited resources, including the resource of time.

Island Jumping

Island Jumping

In this team building exercise, students start at one location on “dry land” and must “hop” from island to island to reach the “promised land” on the other side.

The islands are made of 5 different pallets spaced at irregular intervals. Some are only 6 feet apart while others are 20 feet apart. Students are not allowed to touch the “water”, which is the floor tiles. If anyone does, the ENTIRE team has to go back to the start.

To help, the team has been given two sheets of poster board, which they can use any way they choose.

The desired outcome of this project is that team members ask questions about “gaps” in the rules. In this case, the poster board can be used to keep the feet of the students out of the “water”. To cover longer distance, the poster board can be torn.

This directly relates to a question that came up in the Velocity Vortex game in the 2016/2017 season. In the end game, teams received points if the cap ball (a large yoga ball) was off the floor. A team asked if you could just push the ball up one of the corner ramps. The national rules committee decided that this was “off the floor” and therefore was eligible for points. Had nobody asked, nobody would have gotten the points.

Split Robotics Teams by Day or Seniority?

FIRST Tech ChallengeFor the past two days, I have been asking both groups of robotics students how they want to be split up.

Currently, I have one stacked robotics class that meets during 3rd period on A-Days with 24 students enrolled in it and I have a second stacked robotics class that meets during 3rd period on B-Days with 25 students enrolled in it.

Ferris High School has two FTC teams (FTC 11242 and FTC 12645). At discussion is whether to have one team be assigned to A-Days and the other team be assigned to B-Days or to have half of the students on each day be assigned to one team and the other half assigned to the other team.

I see advantages and disadvantages to both. If both teams are split half-and-half, it will force them to completely document their process, which was a major problem last year. However, having the entire team together will help build cohesion within the team, which was another problem we had last year.

I have ultimately put it to a vote to the two groups and was surprised with the results.

A-Day Voting
A-Day Voting
B-Day Voting
B-Day Voting

I was genuinely surprised. The A-Day group had 54% apathy for the vote and did not care on the outcome. 29% wanted it split half-and-half. 17% wanted it split between days.

In contrast, the B-Day group had 0% apathy. Everyone voted! 88% wanted to be split between days and 12% wanted it split half-and-half.

So, the decision is to split between the days!

FTC 11242 will be housed on A-Days.

FTC 12645 will be housed on B-Days.

Proposed FTC Season Events

FIRST Tech ChallengeI recently got a message that the North Texas area for FIRST Tech Challenge will focus on qualifying tournaments this upcoming season as opposed to league play.

I have sent a message to our new affiliate partner to determine if we can get the majority of the teams in our league to commit to league play, could we proceed with leagues as opposed to qualifiers.

My concern is that many teams may only have the resources to pay for a single event. If that is the case, their robot is only guaranteed to drive 5 times the entire season in qualifying play. In contrast, they’re guaranteed 20 different times to compete in league play.

I am proposing the following season schedule for the league…

  • Kick-Off Event – 09-Sept-2017
  • League Scrimmage / Workshop – 21-Oct-2017
  • League Meet #1 – 18-Nov-2017
    • SAT is on 02-Dec and ACT is on 09-Dec
  • League Meet #2 – 16-Dec-2017
  • League Meet #3 – 13-Jan-2018
  • League Tournament – 27-Jan-2018
  • Last Chance Qualifiers – 02-Feb-2018