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.

Computer Science 2 S&S

At the conclusion of last school year, I had a curve-ball thrown at me concerning my plans to offer AP Computer Science 2 based upon an adopted AP syllabus when I requested the course authorization. This course would align with the AP Computer Science – A Exam. In addition, the course would count as a Language Other Than English (LOTE) credit for our students.

Well, the State of Texas had other plans on that. According to TEA, Computer Science 2 can count as an AP credit OR a LOTE credit, but NOT both.

As we already have HB-5 students in progress that need CS2 as their second LOTE credit, we have elected to drop the AP designation. However, I am still modeling the course after the AP CS2 curriculum from the adopted syllabus, which will allow the students to be prepared to take the AP Computer Science – A Exam at the conclusion of the year, if they would like.

Here is what I am planning to cover in CS2 this year:

  • Weeks 1 – 2
    • Computer Systems
      • Numerical Representations, Limitations of Finite Representations, Number Bases & Conversions, Hardware, and Programming Languages
  • Weeks 3 – 4
    • Objects & Primitive Data
      • Simple Data Types (int, Boolean, double, char), Variable & Constant Declarations, Assignment & Arithmetic Expressions, Console Output, Primitives vs. Objects, Create Objects with Classes, References, JAVA Library Classes (String, Integer, Double, Math, & Scanner), and Random Numbers
  • Weeks 5 – 6
    • Conditional Programming Statements
      • Software Development Process, Control Flow, Boolean Expressions, Laws, Truth Tables, and Conditional Expressions
  • Weeks 7 – 9
    • Iterative Statements
      • Flow of Control, While, For, Infinite, and Nested Loops, and Algorithm Analysis (Running Time and Execution Counts)
  • Weeks 10 – 12
    • Writing Classes
      • Anatomy of Classes (Constructors & Methods, Declarations of Class, Interface, Instance, variable, Method and Parameter), Method Overloading, Method Decomposition, Object Relationships, Pre & Post Conditions, and Data Abstraction & Encapsulation
  • Weeks 13 – 15
    • Enhancing Classes
      • References, Exceptions, Class Design, == vs equals, Object Parameter Passing, Error Handling, Interfaces & Abstract Classes, JAVA Library Classes (Comparable & List Interfaces) and Identifications of Reusable Components from Existing Code Using Classes and Class Libraries
  • Weeks 16
    • Fall Semester Exam Review
  • Week 17
    • Fall Semester Exam
    • Week 18 – 21
      • 1D/2D Arrays & Searching
        • 1-Dimensional & 2-Dimensional Arrays (Creation, Insertions, Deletions, Transversals, & Algorithms), Searching Algorithms & Comparison (Sequential & Binary), and Choosing Appropriate Data Representation & Algorithms
    • Weeks 22 – 24
      • Lists, Array Lists, Selection & Insertion Sorts
        • Lists & Array Lists (Creation, Insertions, Deletions, Transversals, & Algorithms), Sorting Algorithms & Comparison (Selection & Insertions, and Choosing Appropriate Data Representation & Algorithms
    • Weeks 25 – 27
      • Inheritance
        • Inheritance (Subclass, Overriding, Hierarchies, Using Class Members, Polymorphism, & Class Hierarchy Design), Interfaces & Abstract Classes, JAVA Library Classes (Object), Reading & Understanding Class Specifications (is-a vs. has-a), Understanding & Implementing a Given Class Hierarchy, Extending a Given Class with Inheritance, and Applying Functional Decomposition.
    • Weeks 28 – 30
      • Recursion / Merge & QuickSorts
        • Recursive (Thinking, Programming, & Sorting), Flow of Recursive Control, Sorting Algorithms (Merge & Quick), and Comparison With Other Sort Options
    • Weeks 31 – 33
      • AP Practice Exam and Computer Ethics
        • Responsible Use of Computer Systems (Reliability, Privacy, Intellectual Property, Legal Issues, & Social/Ethical Ramifications of Computer Use), and AP Practice Exam
    • Week 34
      • AP Computer Science – A Exam
    • Weeks 35 – 36
      • RoboCode
        • Cooperative Programming, Research, Reading Code, and Comparing Strategies & Algorithms

Robotics at Fish Camp

Fish Camp 2017Today was the first Fish Camp where FIRST Tech Challenge and our Robotics Program was highlighted.

The freshman were broken into 6 different groups and rotated through different stations. We were housed with the various clubs, organizations, and programs in the cafeteria.

J. Vega (Senior) was the student who visited with the freshman as they came through.