Why Wait ‘Til the End?!?!?!?

As we rapidly approach the conclusion of the last day of our 9-weeks grading cycle, I have a plethora of students who are asking what they can do in order to bring their grades up.

While this in and of itself is not unusual (this is my 14th year working in education), what frustrates me is the number of them who are in what is arguably the easiest of my 4 classes (Business Information Management).

Everything in this class is handed to the students in step-by-step instructions with screen shots. All students must do is follow the instructions, whether they are reading on their own or following along with me, and then submit their work when done.

While I do not feel that I will ultimately have very many failures in this class, it frustrates me that many choose to wait until the end of the grading cycle to perform. Why just not perform the entire time and the stress level will be much lower?

Android Studio Setup for FTC

Robotics Laptops Are Ready
Robotics Laptops Are Ready

Finally got around to setting up the FTC programming team laptops with Android Studio today. We’re using 4 HP EliteBook 840 laptops for programming and 1 HP EliteBook 840 for our design and mechanical team.

The plan is to setup all of the hardware to interface with Github for a common development repository for our FTC programming efforts. Obviously, the programming team will be working with this repository much more than the design and mechanical team will.

Once the laptops were ready, Android Studio was downloaded and installed. The installation went fairly smoothly. The SDK that was installed at this time was for Android 5.0 as this is what our driver station and on-board phones will be running.

moto-g-2nd-gen-dual-sim
Motorola G 2nd Generation

We’ll be running the Motorola G 2nd Generation as both our driver station and on-board phones.

We purchased them as part of the starter kit from PITSCO this year. After the ZTE Speed, the Moto-G 2nd Generation appears to be the next smallest volume phone. As we’ll be fighting for every cubic millimeter of space inside the robot, we need to go with the smallest hardware when possible.

Now, to find CAD files of this phone so my design and mechanical team can build a mounting system to hold this and an OTG cable inside the robot.

Proposal for 2017/2018 Robotics Program Expansion in Draft

Well, my proposal for the expanded robotics program has started to take shape and I’ve started discussing it with my district leadership as outlined as one of my T-TESS professional goals.

The initial discussion has been very positive and looks like it has a high degree of being adopted by the district for the 2017/2018 school year.

The possible schedules and classes are as follows:

Proposed Schedule 1

08:00 – 08:53 FJH – Robotics 6 (FLL) or STEM Lab
08:58 – 10:01 FJH – Robotics 7/8 (FTC)
10:06 – 10:59 FJH – Conference/Planning
11:10 – 12:20 FHS – Lunch & Advisory
12:25 – 13:55 FHS – AP Computer Science I [A-Day]
14:00 – 15:30 FHS – Robotics I (FTC) [A-Day]
12:25 – 13:55 FHS – AP Computer Science II [B-Day]
14:00 – 15:30 FHS – Robotics II (FRC) [B-Day]

Proposed Schedule 2

08:00 – 09:30 FHS – AP Computer Science I [A-Day]
09:35 – 11:10 FHS – Robotics I (FTC) [A-Day]
08:00 – 09:30 FHS – AP Computer Science II [B-Day]
09:35 – 11:10 FHS – Robotics II (FRC) [B-Day]
11:10 – 12:20 FHS – Lunch & Advisory
12:41 – 13:34 FJH – Conference/Planning
13:39 – 14:32 FJH – Robotics 7/8 (FTC)
14:37 – 15:30 FJH – Robotics 6 (FLL) or STEM Lab

Next Step

My next step is to go see our STEM Lab at FJH in action with students engaged in it. I’ll also be going over to evaluate components and equipment they are currently using and how a robotics team could be implemented in conjunction with it, namely with the 6th graders. For the 7th/8th graders, the plan is to simply offer a second STEM elective as a robotics course that aligns with FTC.

Funding Sources

I am also in the process of working with Samantha Bradbury – STEM Co-Coordinator for Education Service Center – Region 10 to communicate with program teachers and coordinators across the region to identify where junior high-level robotics programs can and are being funded from.

Microsoft Word Exam #1

bim-2010-bookWe recently gave the first exam for Microsoft Word. In our textbook, Microsoft Word was broken into 4 distinct units (A, B, C, and D).

We started the school year working on developing or refining keyboarding skills using Alfatyping. As such, we didn’t get started in the book until mid-September.

Our current grading cycle closes on 14-October. Up to this point, we have only covered through Unit C of Microsoft Word. At the conclusion of each unit we have given a unit “concepts quiz” and have taken numerous daily grades. Unfortunately, we have not yet had the opportunity to take a major grade.

After some discussion, we agreed to create an “intermediate” exam that would cover only Units A, B, and C. We created both an application (hands-on) exam and a concepts (knowledge) exam. The plan is to utilize the materials created by my predecessor (who is no longer able to teach BIM due to additional administrative duties) for an “end of Word” exam that would cover Units A, B, C, and D.

Our application test was the following:

Students were presented with a file with partial content and a set of 20 instructions to complete for formatting. They also had to complete the content in the file. Each major numbered task was worth 5 points.

Our concepts test was the following:

Students were presented with a total of 30 multiple choice questions. Approximately 10 questions from each unit (A, B, & C) were presented to the students.

Students were told that the exam was “open resource” and they were welcome to use whatever research techniques they had at their disposal. Examples of using the book, searching online, and discussing with a neighbor were all presented to the students.

Both tests were given over 2 90-minute classes. The application test was presented at the start of the first 90-minute class while the concepts test was presented at the start of the second 90-minute class.

On average, 65% of students completed the application test by the conclusion of the first 90-minute class. The remaining 35% completed the application test by the conclusion of the second 90-minute class following their work on the concepts test.

Base 2, 8, 10, & 16 Numbering

We are starting the UIL Computer Science season by looking at 4 major numbering systems. We are looking at the Base-2 (binary), Base-8 (octal), Base-10 (decimal), and Base-16 (hexadecimal) numbering systems.

Base-10

Base-10 is also known as decimal or abbreviated to dec.

This system is comprised of 10 unique digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.

The decimal numbering system is arguably the easiest numbering system since it is what we are the most familiar with.

In the decimal numbering system, numbers are read from left-to right, but the place-values run from right-to-left. Each place-value position is 10 times larger than the position to its right.

Let’s examine the decimal number 1,22210

In this case, the 2 that is in the tens place is 10 times larger than the 2 that is in the ones place.

The 2 that is in the hundreds place is 10 times larger than the 2 that is in the tens place and 100 times larger than the 2 in the ones place.

The decimal numbering system working in multiples and fractions of 10.

Base 2

Base-2 is also known as binary or abbreviated to bin.

This system is comprised of 2 unique digits: 0 and 1.

Binary numbers are read from left-to-right like decimal numbers and the place-values run from right-to-left.

Place Value Position 02 = Base-10 Value 12 = Base-10 Value
1 010 110
2 010 210
3 010 410
4 010 810
5 010 1610
6 010 3210
7 010 6410
8 010 12810

Let’s look at the following binary number: 1012

When reading from right-to-left, the first place value holds a 12 and has a Base-10 value of 110.

The second place value holds a 02 and has a Base-10 value of 010.

The third place value holds a 12 and had a Base-10 value of 410.

To calculate the Base-10 value, we add the values of each place value together (110 + 010 + 410). In this case, the binary number 1012 has a Base-10 value of 510.

Let’s take a look at another binary number: 100111012

  • Place Value 1 – 12 = Base-10 Value = 110
  • Place Value 2 – 02 = Base-10 Value = 010
  • Place Value 3 – 12 = Base-10 Value = 410
  • Place Value 4 – 12 = Base-10 Value = 810
  • Place Value 5 – 12 = Base-10 Value = 1610
  • Place Value 6 – 02 = Base-10 Value = 010
  • Place Value 7 – 02 = Base-10 Value = 010
  • Place Value 8 – 12 = Base-10 Value = 12810

Add all of the Base-10 values together (12810 + 1610 + 810 + 410 + 110) and we get 15710. So, in this case, the binary number 100111012 has a Base-10 value of 15710.

Base-8

Base-8 is also known as octal or abbreviated to oct.

This system is comprised of 8 unique digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

Octal numbers are read from left-to-right, like Base-10 numbers but we must read the place-value position from right-to-left, like Base-2 numbers.

Let’s examine the octal 25618.

(28 X 83) + (58 X 82) + (68 X 81) + (18 X 80)

102410 + 32010 + 4810 + 110 = 1,39310

So, the octal 25618 has a Base-10 value of 1,39310.

In the solution, note the first digit in each set of parenthesis corresponds to the digits in the octal (2, 5, 6, and 1). We multiplied each of those by 8 raised to the power of their position in the octal from right-to-left with the first position having a power of 0.

Base 16

Base-16 is also known as hexadecimal or abbreviated to hex.

This system is comprised of 16 unique digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, and F.

Hexadecimal numbers can be written one of two ways and either way is considered acceptable.

Method 1: 2AF316

Method 2: 0x2AF3

To convert a hexadecimal to Base-10 is very similar to the process for converting an octal to Base-10.

Let’s examine the hex 2AF316

(216 X 163) + (A16 X 162) + (F16 X 161) + (316 X 160)

Before we can continue, we need to discuss the Base-10 equivalents of the hexadecimal digits.

  • 016 = 010
  • 116 = 110
  • 216 = 210
  • 316 = 310
  • 416 = 410
  • 516 = 510
  • 616 = 610
  • 716 = 710
  • 816 = 810
  • 916 = 910
  • A16 = 1010
  • B16 = 1110
  • C16 = 1210
  • D16 = 1310
  • E16 = 1410
  • F16 = 1510

Now, we can continue:

(216 X 163) + (A16 X 162) + (F16 X 161) + (316 X 160)

(210 X 163) + (1010 X 162) + (1510 X 161) + (310 X 160)

8,19210 + 2,56010 + 24010 + 310 = 10,99510

Where Are They Used?

Base-10 is used as our standard counting and arithmetic system of the world around us. While it works great for our natural purposes, it does not lend itself to adequate use for internal processes of computer applications.

Base-2 is used as the fundamental basis of computing and boolean logic. Since Base-2 only has 2 digits this can equate to yes/no, on/off, true/false and any other absolute polar response query.

Base-8 is used in computer systems that parse 12-bit, 24-bit, and 36-bit binary words. Many of these computer systems are no longer in use and have been replaced with 32-bit and 64-bit binary word systems. As such, octal-based computing is no longer considered an efficient way to process data.

Base-16 is used to represent numerical data in a more concise manner for programming purposes that isn’t as fundamental as Base-2.

An example is the HEX color system. Let’s look at the HEX color 9FBDDF16. HEX colors are broken into 3 parts (1st 2 character represent amount of red, 2nd 2 characters represent amount of green, and 3rd 2 characters represent the amount of blue).

9F16 is the amount of red in the color. BD16 is the amount of green in the color. DF16 is the amount of blue in the color.

  • In this example, we have 9F16 equal to 15910.
  • If we continue, we have BD16 equal to 18910.
  • Finally, we have DF16 equal to 22310.

It is much easier for a programmer to enter the following:

background-color: #9FBDDF;

as compared to:

background-color: rgb(159, 189, 223);

FTC North Texas Citrine League

Dr. Carter Tiernan distributed the preliminary draft summary of the league alignments for the 2016/2017 FIRST Tech Challenge season on September 30th.

FTC 11242 (ERROR 404) has been assigned to compete in the Citrine League of North Texas.

As you can see, we are spread across Tarrant, Dallas, Ellis, and Kaufman counties.

The preliminary draft has our league consisting of the following teams:

  • FTC 127 – The Fighting Pickles
    • Ben Barber Career High School (Mansfield / Tarrant County)
    • Rookie Year: 2007/2008
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 2926 – T-Robots
    • Harmony Science Academy (Grand Prairie / Dallas County)
    • Rookie Year: 2008/2009
    • Last Year Competed: 2013/2014
  • FTC 9582 – DeSoto High School
    • DeSoto High School (DeSoto / Dallas County)
    • Rookie Year: 2014/2015
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 9608 – Cyberpride
    • Kaufman High School (Kaufman / Kaufman County)
    • Rookie Year: 2014/2015
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 9609 – Aries Robotics
    • Kaufman High School (Kaufman / Kaufman County)
    • Rookie Year: 2014/2015
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 10734 – Gopher Bots
    • Grand Prairie High School (Grand Prairie / Dallas County)
    • Rookie Year: 2015/2016
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 11085 – MHS
    • Mansfield High School (Mansfield / Tarrant County)
    • Rookie Year: 2015/2016
    • First Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 11242 – ERROR 404
    • Ferris High School (Ferris / Ellis County)
    • Rookie Year: 2016/2017
    • First Year Competed: 2016/2017
  • FTC Temp 201601746 – Heritage Robotics
    • Heritage High School (Midlothian / Ellis County)
    • Rookie Year: 2016/2017
    • First Year Competed: 2016/2017
  • FTC Temp 201601763 – Eagles Robotics
    • DeSoto High School (DeSoto / Dallas County)
    • Rookie Year: 2016/2017
    • First Year Competed: 2016/2017

PR2 Grades – Computer Science

Well, here we are – 6 calendar weeks into the 2016/2017 academic year! While we are running 9-week quarter grading cycles, the UIL requires eligibility to be calculated at the first 6-weeks and then at each progress reporting period – approximately every 3 weeks.

Grade Distribution - 1(B) Computer Science I
Grade Distribution – 1(B) Computer Science I

Here, you can see that I have a total of 16 students on the roster at the time of the snapshot.

  • 8/16 (50%) have A’s
  • 3/16 (18.75%) have B’s
  • 3/16 (18.75%) have C’s
  • 1/16 (6.25%) have F’s
  • 1/16 (6.25%) are Incomplete/Ungraded

To date, this class has had 1 major grade (25% of average), 3 intermediate grades (25% of average), and 8 minor grades (50% of average).

The next grade check will be at the conclusion of Q1, which ends on Friday, 14-October-2016.

PR2 Grades – Robotics

Well, here we are – 6 calendar weeks into the 2016/2017 academic year! While we are running 9-week quarter grading cycles, the UIL requires eligibility to be calculated at the first 6-weeks and then at each progress reporting period – approximately every 3 weeks.

Grade Distribution - 3(A) Robotics
Grade Distribution – 3(A) Robotics

Here, you can see that I have a total of 18 students on the roster at the time of the snapshot.

  • 16/18 (89%) have A’s
  • 1/18 (5.5%) have B’s
  • 1/18 (5.5%) have C’s

To date, this class has had no major grades (25% of average), 2 intermediate grades (25% of average), and 11 minor grades (50% of average).

The next grade check will be at the conclusion of Q1, which ends on Friday, 14-October-2016.

PR2 Grades – Principles of Technology

Well, here we are – 6 calendar weeks into the 2016/2017 academic year! While we are running 9-week quarter grading cycles, the UIL requires eligibility to be calculated at the first 6-weeks and then at each progress reporting period – approximately every 3 weeks.

Grade Distribution – Principles of Technology 2(A)

Here, you can see that I have a total of 24 students on the roster at the time of the snapshot.

  • 6/25 (24.0%) have A’s
  • 11/25 (44.0%) have B’s
  • 5/25 (20.0%) have C’s
  • 2/25 (8.0%) have F’s
  • 1/25 (4.0%) are Incomplete/Ungraded

To date, this class has had 1 major grade (25% of average), 3 intermediate grades (25% of average), and 11 minor grades (50% of average).

The next grade check will be at the conclusion of Q1, which ends on Friday, 14-October-2016.

UPDATE: 02-October-2016

Missing work has been submitted by some students and the grade distributions have shifted to the following…

  • 6/25 (24.0%) have A’s
  • 12/25 (48.0%) have B’s
  • 5/25 (20.0%) have C’s
  • 1/25 (4.0%) have F’s
  • 1/25 (4.0%) are Incomplete/Ungraded

PR2 Grades – Business Information Management

Well, here we are – 6 calendar weeks into the 2016/2017 academic year! While we are running 9-week quarter grading cycles, the UIL requires eligibility to be calculated at the first 6-weeks and then at each progress reporting period – approximately every 3 weeks.

Grade Distribution - 2(B) BIM
Grade Distribution – 2(B) BIM
Grade Distribution - 3(B) BIM
Grade Distribution – 3(B) BIM
Grade Distribution - 4(B) BIM
Grade Distribution – 4(B) BIM
Grade Distribution - 4(A) BIM
Grade Distribution – 4(A) BIM

Here, you can see that I have a total of 18 students on the roster at the time of the snapshot.

  • 57/91 (62.6%) have A’s
  • 23/91 (25.3%) have B’s
  • 8/91 (8.8%) have C’s
  • 0/91 (0.0%) have F’s
  • 3/91 (3.3%) are Incomplete/Ungraded

To date, this class has had no major grades (25% of average), 3 intermediate grades (25% of average), and 9 minor grades (50% of average).

The next grade check will be at the conclusion of Q1, which ends on Friday, 14-October-2016.