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About

Damien works with students and teacher from around the world, bringing the effective use of technology to the classroom.  

LEGO MINDSTORMS
Damien is a member of the MCP (Mindstorms Community Program), a small group of experts who collaborate with LEGO to make the MINDSTORM product better.

Google Apps for Edu
Damien has 'Qualified Individual' certification for training teachers to use the Google Apps for Education range of tools.

Books

Teacher Resource Books

DomaBot Map

See where the DomaBot is being used around the world

Monday
Apr082013

My BeeBots have a new home!

I was sick of my BeeBots rattling around in one of my bags, and the only 'official' storage I could find held only 6 BeeBots.  A quick trip to the local foam shop and I got a few pieces custom cut to fit a spare bag of mine.  A little Tetris with a template to make sure they fit in, and then careful cutting with a very sharp knife. 

This new setup holds 12 BeeBots, 6 mats, spare batteries, BeeBot rulers, pens etc.  Everything I need to do a session in class :)


Thursday
Mar282013

Improvement to my NXT Music maker design

I love it when people take my ideas, and improve on them.

Adriano took the initial designs I had in Making Music with the NXT and improved on them.  His design actively pulls up on the lever so that the mallet comes down quickly.  More force and you don't have to wait for gravity :)

Can't wait to see what else he comes up with :)

 

Monday
Mar252013

LEGO EV3 Training in Sydney

I was very fortunate to help out at the recent Sydney EV3 training.  We had the LEGO distributors plus a few top teachers from Australia in a 2-day hands on 'play' session.  We were able to give them a good play with both the new Hardware and the new Software coming out.

Rob Widger (Global LEGO Master Trainer) led the sessions and was fantastic, and the excitement on the faces of those who will now go out and show off the capabilities of the EV3 was great to see :)

 

Friday
Mar152013

Reversing light and beeper for a NXT Robot

Geraldine on the Mailing list shared a fantastic simple little activity she did with her students.

Just a very simple idea that is working well for me in my workshops, I am sorry if you have already come up with this idea yourself!!!

I get Y6 children (age 10-11) to attach a bulb to the back of Damien's domabot build and then instruct them to ensure it is lit any time that the robot is reversing. This then leads on, to a road safety discussion and it is surprising that the majority of these children don't realise that cars have reversing lights to warn them that they are about to reverse.

Full discussion here

This prompted a bit of a discussion about how such a project could lead on to other subjects.  Geraldine didn't share exactly the program she used, but based on her idea, this is what I came up with. 

The first line will play a note (G) for 0.5 seconds, then wait for 0.5 seconds.  The whole thing is repeated 4 times.

The second line has the robot reversing for 4 seconds at 20 percent power.

The third line uses the Light Sensor block, not to take a measurement, but to toggle the 'Generate Light' function that is used when using the Light Sensor in either Ambient or Reflected mode. 

Becasue all three lines run on their own sequence bar, they will be executed in parallel, that is, the robot will reverse, beep and flash the light all at exactly the same time.

I then turn the whole thing into a MyBlock, so I can use it whenever I want.  This program will have the robot drive up to an obstacle, run the reversing block, turn a bit and then go driving to find the next obstacle.

 

If you're interested, I've document the whole process in the video below :)  (Make sure you watch in HD) 

Friday
Mar082013

Books now available at Amazon Europe websites


I'm a bit late to the game, but now my books have been listed on Amazon Europe websites such as Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, and Amazon.es.

It will probably mean cheaper shipping for those of you that shop from those particular sites.

To find them, just go to your Amazon store of choice and do a search for "Damien Kee" and my books should pop up.

If you've bought a book and have found it useful, please don't hesitate to leave a review, it would make my day! :)

Monday
Mar042013

NXT - Stopping at the end of a line

In a Teacher workshop this week we were looking at ways of following a line. In these workshops I stick with a simple 'wiggle' algorithm just using a Switch statement and some Move Blocks. The group picked it up quickly and we had a little bit of time left at the end, so naturally the question arose, "How do we make it stop at the end?" I took them through a few easy implementations, but when I got home, it occurred to me that we had a similar conversation on the mailing list last year - full discussion here There were quite a few great solutions and ideas put forward (thanks Esther, Ian, Randall, Elwood, Amy and Jon) and I thought it might be useful to turn those ideas into actual code so teachers could get a better idea of how each worked. Simple Line Following (No Stop) Using the very basic line following program shown below, the robot will turn left to see the line and then right to avoid the line. Repeat this forever and the robot will 'wiggle' its way down the line.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb262013

NXT On-Brick Programming worksheet

John Middendorf and John Burfoot tossed around a few ideas on the mailing list about how best to utilise the on-board programming of the NXT in the classroom.  John M put together this simple but effective little worksheet that would work quite nicely in a classroom :)

(click for the pdf)

 

Let us know if you have some success with it! 

Friday
Feb222013

NXT-NXT Bluetooth Tutorial

A common request I get from Teachers is how to use Bluetooth.  So common in fact, that I thought it a good idea to make a few video's outlining how I go about it.

I've broken it down into 3 parts

  • Part 1: Connecting 2 NXT's together.  This shows you what menu items you need to choose (4:00)
  • Part 2: Simple Bluetooth communication.  Having an action on one NXT trigger a Bluetooth message to be sent to the other NXT which inturn generates a new action (5:31)
  • Part 3: Using one NXT as a remote, to control a second NXT.  This requires constant Bluetooth messages to be sent from the Master NXT to the Slave NXT (16:47)

So while these don't cover *everything* you can do with Bluetooth, I hope it gets people started!

What have you done / would you do, with a Bluetooth connection?  Let me know in the comments below.

Monday
Feb182013

Google Sheets and make-your-own Crosswords

This is an activity I've run with Students and Teachers on quite a few occasions with great success.  I thought it was finally time to document it and create a template in case other might find it useful.

In just about every subject at school, there is vocabulary to be learnt (parts of a tree, names of characters in a book, different uses of onions in medieval society etc..)  When I was in school, the teacher would give us all the words to learn as well as their definitions.  To test if we had learnt them, we were given some 'interactive' activities - word searches, crosswords, connect the word to the description etc.  I guess it worked ok, but with the web tools that are available nowadays, it is possible to make it far more engaging for the students.  Having the students create their own crosswords (with clues) which are then shared with other students, forces them to think not only about the words they need to use, how it will be layed out, but also how the clues are too be written.  Too much information and it's too easy.  Too little (or possibly incorrect) information, and you can't solve it.

By putting them into groups to create their crossword, you also can get them to check each others work, "Is their enough info in that clue?", "Is there a better way of phrasing that clue?" etc.

Using Google Sheets, it is very easy to constuct a simple crossword within a small group.

I created a template for it that anyone is free to use (just let me know how it works in your class!)

Students come up with a list of words to suit a topic.  They then start inserting those words into a crossword, making sure they share at least one letter with an existing word.  Words and clues are colour matched (by using the fill colour tool) so you know what clues match to the crossword.

    

The great thing about Google Sheets is that you can then delete all the letters, but the background colours will remain so you know where the words go :)

Friday
Feb152013

How do you store your LEGO?

It's a common problem for teachers.  You have a bunch of LEGO kits you use in your class, and within a few months, it turns into a huge sea of plastic parts.  That makes it difficult for your students to find the parts they want, wasting very valuable class time.

So what is the best way to store all that precious LEGO?  Back in 2009, with the help of the community on the LEGOengineering mailing list we put together a document that highlight a variety of different ways.  Roll around to 2013 and ther are a lot more LEGO kits out there and plenty of teachers looking for good ideas.  

So once again we put the call out to the mailing list to help share some ideas.  I've collated all the ideas that came through and created a Google Doc with the info.  

While it might not be perfect for your classroom, it might have some good ideas you can borrow :)

How do you store your LEGO?  send me some pics and I'll add them to the list!

Direct link to the Google Doc