Search
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

Wednesday
Jan092013

EV3 vs NXT (The Educators Dilemma) 

           

 

With the release of the new EV3 Mindstorms system (more info), I've had a few emails from teachers asking me what they should do; Stick with the NXT or go with the EV3? I've been very lucky to have had the EV3 for a few months to check it out and my answer is - 'it depends'

I'm going to preface all of this by pointing out that I have seen some AMAZING teaching being done all all types of robotics kits. It is far more important what you do, rather than what you do it with. I still see teacher effectively teaching and engaging kids with the RCX units. The new EV3 units in no way make the NXT (or RCX) obsolete.

“Children learn best when they are actively engaged in constructing something that has a personal meaning to them – be it a poem, a robot, a sandcastle, or a computer program.” — Seymour Papert

Just quickly, the differences. Hardware wise, there is a new intelligent brick (the EV3 unit) and new sensors (Gyro). There are a different arrangement of LEGO parts but as with all LEGO, it all fits together so NXT beams and pins will fit the EV3 beams and pins. In my opinion, the EV3 is more 'evolutionary' rather than 'revolutionary'. We lose the Sound sensor, which in my opinion was the best sensor of all in a classroom.

Software wise, the new software is very nice. All the parameters for each block are visible on the block itself (no configuration panels anymore). This great as it means you can do a 'print screen' and see all the parameters of each block at once. You can zoom in and out which is handy and the inbuilt documentation tool is fantastic. Datalogging has received a boost, with a return to the old RoboLab idea of additionally processing the data rather than just viewing it. There are a bunch of other bells and whistles and they have taken on a lot of feedback to make some of the niggly things in NXT a bit easier to do (ie, multiple switch cases). The new software is backwards compatible with the NXT (although the EV3 brick is not compatible with the NXT-G software)

A few extra points of note

  • Once again there will be a Retail (Home) version as well as an Education version. As with the NXT I am predicting this will cause a huge amount of confusion. The Edu version will come with the rechargable battery, something that is invaluable in a classroom situation.
  • I have heard unofficially that NXT's will continue to be supported until 2015. What 'supported' means exactly I'm not too sure, hopefully it means you can continue to buy sets and spare parts although I'm sure they will become increasingly difficult to find as time wears on.
  • The EV3 will not be available for purchase until the second half of 2013. This means at best July / August and at worst you may not actually have them in your hands until late in the year.
  • The price is a little more expensive. A single set is currently slated at US$339 (vs the current US$295 for the NXT) Multiple kits will get you a slight discount.
  • There is Curriculum available and is touted as being 40+ hours and linking with curriculum standards. I'm not sure if this will be an additional purchase or which countries curriculum it is referring to (I am assuming US)

So where does that leave teachers / educators / schools? I think that will depend on what your current situation is. New to robotics or have existing NXTs (or even RCXs!)

No current robotics investment:
For those schools with no robotics at all and are looking to jump in, if you can hang on until the end of the year, then I highly recommend getting the EV3. It is a fantastic product and will stand you in good stead for many years to come. The RCX was around for around 8 years before the NXT came along and the NXT has been out for a similar amount of time.

Have had your NXT kits for a number of years and staff / students are comfortable with them:
Again I would recommend the EV3 when you budget rolls arounf to getting more robots. The concepts are the same and your students and staff should transition easily to the new setup (students usually quicker than the staff!). You can switch over to the new software and still program all your original NXTs. If you've had NXTs for a while you probably find that you have a few teachers that are keen to push the boundaries and try something new.

Just started out with NXTs in the last year or so:
This is probably the trickiest situation to be in. It's a hard call, but I would suggest you stay with the NXTs. Try and stock up on a few in case they become rare in the coming year. You'll want to consolidate your program an trying to run 2 systems at the same time will confuse novice teachers. It is far better to have a confident teacher on older hardware, than a clueless teacher on the latest technology. The NXTs will easily last you another 4-5 years and in that time you can then look to do a swap over.

Don't get sucked into what I often hear called the 'shiny shiny' effect. Technology is only as good as the person using it, and just because you have something fancy, doesn't mean your students are going to learn any better by just having it.

I said it earlier and will say it again - The new EV3 units do not in any way make the NXTs obsolete.  Take the time to evaluate what you are doing, and make a decision on what you are trying to achieve, and then decide the best way to implement that.

If anyone ever has any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

**these views are completely mine, and are in no way connected to the LEGO group**

 

***UPDATE 17/1/13***

A few teachers have chimed in with some really good advice.  One option I didn't think about was keeping the NXT hardware and purchasing the software.  This keeps all the kids in the same development environment and when the time / budget does arrive to purchase EV3, you don't have to worry about 2 programming languages.

The physical building technique stays the same between NXT and EV3 (pins and beams as opposed to the RCX studs and plates) so there is less of a learning curve to transfer in this respect.

Additionally, there will be some schools doing a wholesale upgrade to EV3 so will have plenty of second hand NXT's on offer

The other major point was that there is already a huge amount of teacher resources / books / support already in existance for the NXT.  No doubt the curriculum put out by LEGO Education will be good and authors will be quick to release their own material, but these things do take time.

(thanks to Craig, Martijn, Paul, Gina and Ian for their feedback)

Monday
Oct222012

DomaBot Global Map Update - 15 Countries!

Just a quick post with updates to the DomaBot Global Map.  I now have schools / organisations in 15 countries using my design.  Still waiting to hear back from Teachers in Ghana and South Korea to see if their happy to add their schools into the mix which would make 17 countries :)

Are you using the DomaBot design?  Know someone who is?  Please let me know!

 


View DomaBots around the world in a larger map

Tuesday
Oct022012

RoboCup Junior Australia 2012 Championships

On September 22/23, we held the Australian Championships for RoboCUp Junior.  This year we saw over 140 teams and over 400 kids from all over Australia come to Canberra to show off their creations.  I am constantly amazed at the ability of these students and what they are able to create.  We make it a point to interview every team to make sure that the work is substantially their own (not some well meaning but overhelpful teacher or parent).  I spoke to quite a few teams, who despite being in grade 10,11 or 12, knew more than I did after my first year of my Engineering Degree!

Photos below (I was helping mainly in the Rescue challenge so there are a few more of those than the Dance or Soccer)

 

Here are a few videos that others took of the event:

 

Thursday
Sep132012

My robot design being used in Ghana! :)

Thanks www.robotsquare.com for send this through to me.  As part of a RISE project (Robotics Inspired Science Education), close to 400 students from 10 regions of Ghana were able to take part in a robotics workshop.  The amazing thing (and humbling for me) is that they used my robot design for part of the workshops.

They're also using the RoboCupJunior Australia Rescue mat (which I also had a big part in creating) as part of their project challenge.

I've emailed the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation to see if there is anything else I could do to help :)

The mission of Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation (GRAF) is to design accessible and innovative programs that will excite and motivate young Ghanaians to pursue careers in science, technology and engineering, build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills. RiSE introduces students to the excitement and experience of solving real world problems by applying, science, technology, engineering and math skills, all using LEGO Mindstorms.

The inaugural RiSE 2011 workshops were held at Tamale, Accra and Takoradi, it was a celebration of Science, Technology and Teamwork. RiSE 2011 workshop had close to 400 students from all 10 regions of the country. The diversity of the participants was remarkable and each student brought different experiences, interest, and ambitions. In addition, each student demonstrated talents they didn’t know they had.

You can find the full report here - http://foundation.ghanarobotics.org/

Saturday
Aug042012

QSITE PD Session

I was up in Townsville last weekend to run some Professional Development sessions for QSITE (Queensland Society of Information Technology Educators).  Three sessions in total, each around 3hrs long. 

  • Using Greenscreens
  • StopMotion Animation 
  • Google Earth in the Classroom

I've done up some resource pages for Greenscreens and Google Earth.  Hopefully Stopmotion Animation is not far behind.

Thursday
Jul262012

Greenscreen Tutorial

I have *finally* gotten around to writing all this up.  Teachers keep hounding me for it, so here it is! :)

http://www.damienkee.com/greenscreens/

This is how I go about doing my Greenscreen workshop.  It covers the hardware I use, as well as the software.  I'm a big fan of cheap / free software, as teachers are more likely to 'give-it-a-go' if there is very little outlay.  Once you're confident, and your students are wanting to increase production value, you can upgrade to better software / cameras / lights etc.

Friday
Jul132012

Apologies for lack of posts

"Sorry :(" by gwaar
Attribution License

I'm sorry, I know it has been a while since my last post.  Life has been hectic, with RoboCup Junior, Australia 's move to the new National Curriculum along with all the other things life throws at you. I've neglected this blog as well as my other social media for a little too long so I'm hopefully going to turn this around.  The 'aim' is to do at least 1 post per week, so here's hoping I can keep to that :)

As always, if you have any questions about anything (yes anything!), please don't hesitate to contact me.

 

Thursday
Jan192012

Making Music with the NXT

Big thanks to Marvin for sending these videos through of his students.  They used my book - "Making Music with the NXT" as inspiration for creating their own musical instruments!

Monday
Jan162012

DomaBot Global Map

In around 2007, I put together a simple robot design that I could use with my classroom teaching.  It was quick to build, required very few parts which enabled us to get on to the programming more quickly.  Now I'm a firm believer in giving kids the time to 'play' and explore mechanisms and structural consruction, but unfortunately in the sessions I run, time is not something we have much spare.

If you give a kid a box of LEGO and tell them to build a robot, you could come back in 3 weeks and they would still be tinkering with just the build.

I put the plans up online for anyone to use, and then I started getting some emails from far-flung places around the world.  Teachers had been using my design and saying thanks for making it available.  It's those kinds of emails that make your day.

So over these last few weeks, I need a project to keep me from doing 'real' work and decided to put together a map of where the DomaBot is being used.  Google Maps has made it increadibly easy to both pin a location and embed the whole map on my site.  I'm hoping people will also send me photos of their DomaBots in actions, to attach to their pinned location.

Within 2 weeks of putting the call out, I had received 24 organisations (schools, universities, even NASA!) spread across 7 countries.  I love what I do!

Have you used my design?  Please let me know about it.

 


View DomaBots around the world in a larger map

Wednesday
Jan112012

How do you store your LEGO?

Back in 2009 I collated a bunch of different ideas from teachers and educators on the LEGOengineering mailing list on how they store their LEGO in class.  It was originally turned into a pdf but wasn't easy to find, so I thought I'd reproduce it here and link it in a few more places.

Do you use any of these methods?  Something completely different?

 


When asked "How do you store your LEGO?" there is no single correct way that suits every classroom. What follows below is a collection of different ideas that were gathered together from teachers from all over the world via the LEGO engineering mailing list. This mailing list has over 200 participants, exchanging ideas about how robotics is taught in schools. Please join us and help grow the community of robotics educators.

 

Karen Rouse Technology Coordinator Pacific Pines Primary

Here at Pac Pines we currently have 12 RCX & 4 NXT robotics kits. Students in Years 4 to 7 participate in robotics programming activities at before and after school clubs. Because our club activities are mainly programming based challenges at the moment the students generally just use pre-built robots.

ROBOT ORGANISATION

The robots have all been given a name and the students have laminated and attached name cards to each robot like a number plate (see Bizzy & Bella Close Up - pic attached). The robots have a set parking spot (also named) on a shelf in our Tech Lab where they always go back to when they are not being used (Robot Parking pic attached). Because our Tech Lab is in our library and the robotics storage area is in a corridor between the two it is a high traffic area where many little fingers might like to play with the robots so to avoid that as much as possible we add covers to the front of the Robot Parking area when robotics is not on (see Robot Parking Covers pic attached).

Click to read more ...

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 7 Next 10 Entries »