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Adding a Robot Project to a CS1 Course

Adding a Robot Project to a CS1 Course Patricia Roth Pierce April 17, 2010 Introduction A Little Bit About Me Where the course fits into the curriculum Why I added a robot project to CS1/CS2 How I did it Results My Background Undergraduate Math major – no CS at that time.

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Adding a Robot Project to a CS1 Course

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  1. Adding a Robot Project to a CS1 Course Patricia Roth Pierce April 17, 2010

  2. Introduction • A Little Bit About Me • Where the course fits into the curriculum • Why I added a robot project to CS1/CS2 • How I did it • Results

  3. My Background • Undergraduate Math major – no CS at that time. • Worked for IBM several years, teaching customers and employee training classes in programming - early 60s. • After being married and starting a family, worked part time at two and four year colleges wherever we were located - late 60s to late 90s (since 1982 at SPSU). • Returned to school for a Masters in Software Engineering and landed a full time position at SPSU in 2002. • Current position - Senior Lecturer

  4. Southern Polytechnic State University • Founded in 1948 as a two-year division of the Georgia Institute of Technology • requested by Georgia business and industry. • 16 students and 12 staff. • Housed in an airport building in Chamblee, GA. • Today, SPSU is a four year accredited university with: • A 230 acre campus in Marietta, GA. • 35 buildings and 3 new ones under construction. • 5000+ students from 61 countries. • Four Schools – Arts & Sciences, Engineering & Technology Management, Architecture, CET, & Construction, and Computing and Software Engineering (includes IT)

  5. Computing and Software Engineering • Undergraduate/Graduate degrees in: • Computer Science • Software Engineering • Information Technology • Gaming (undergraduate only at this point)

  6. CSE Curriculum • Currently all four CSE undergraduate degrees begin with a 2 or 3 semester programming sequence of: • Program and Problem Solving I (Java) • Program and Problem Solving II (Java) • Data Structures (C++) • CSE School also provides the first two programming courses for our Engineering, Math, Biology, and Physics students.

  7. Program and Problem Solving I and II • 4 credit course – 3 hours lecture (40 students), 1.5 hours closed lab (20 students with full attendance of professor and lab assistant). • Graded on 3 tests, 6 outside projects, 11 closed lab assignments, and a few homework papers. • Every semester, I have made the last project a two-student team assignment to design a program with a GUI or graphic component and present the results in front of the class. Grade is on depth, correctness, and enthusiasm. I encourage them to have fun with it. • I have been pleasantly surprised!

  8. Why I Added Robot Project to Courses • Current popularity • SIGCSE conference, Spring, 2009 • Email from my department chair • NOTE: Not trying to teach robotics or teach all of CS1 using a robot (Ga. Tech.) - just considered adding a robot project to current course, in place of the GUI/Graphics assignment.

  9. Possible Robot Choices • Lego – too much time to build and program. • Cricket – too youthful, aimed at grade and high school, I felt. • Scribbler - www.roboteducation.org

  10. Scribbler Robot • Lots of sensors, camera, pen attachment, and speaker • Wireless • Local contacts at Ga. Tech. • ~ $250.00 for Scribbler, Bluetooth thumb drive, and Lancet fluke dongle. • Free resources on internet a.) text: Learning Computing with Robots by Deepak Kumar b.) reference manual: Myro_Reference_Manual - Python language (2.4)

  11. One Hour of Lecture! • Basic Python commands for the Scribbler • motors, forward, backward, rotate, move • Ask students to code drawing a square forward(1,1) turnLeft(1,.3) forward(1,1) turnLeft(1,.3) forward(1,1) turnLeft(1,.3) forward(1,1) (all as separate commands) • Function definition in Python • sample dance routine from text – see handout

  12. Several Lab Hours • My lecture on Scribbler was given after midpoint of the semester. • One week to think about it, read material, choose teammate (optional), and propose a robot activity. • Sign-up sheet - any stragglers were assigned by me. • Closed lab time available for practice, as well as several other times with lab assistant. • I encouraged them to play and learn as much as they could but not to try to do more than was realistic. • Presentations were during the last full week of class – attendance mandatory.

  13. First Scribbler Projects • First Year Students – C++ • Parallel Park • Draw a Box frontwards and backwards, followed by a song • Play Mario theme song and draw a box • Trace a zig-zag path and return • Recreate a Gone with the Wind scene • Draw a house • Draw a figure 8 • Act like a dog, play Jingle Bells • Play Rock, Scissors, Paper, Spock, Lizard – uses camera • Draw a 3-D box • Draw 2 intersecting diamonds • Play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, draw and redraw a box • Draw First Robotics Logo

  14. First Scribbler Project (cont) • Second Year Students – Java • Play baseball with three different sounds • Boogie Dance to a wav sound file • Wanders, detects obstacles, and moves away • Staying on white paper, surrounded by black – playpen effect • Play Flight of the Bumblebee • Follow a light source • Takes a picture, determine color and moves 3 different ways, based on color it “saw”, play Ode to Joy • Print “HELLO” using 4 functions • Gradually speeded up and slowed down wheel motors • Avoid objects and make car start up and running noises, blink lights • Find green color (balloon) and pop it • Trace across a white poster board and calculate its area and perimeter • Draw and retrace a spiraling circle • Draw two boxes, side by side • Imitate a puppy by backing off from any object and barking

  15. Biggest Lessons • Have patience when using mechanical devices – learned this very well. • Learning a new language after the first is a piece of cake!

  16. Frustrations – a few • Scribbler eats batteries – I have changed to rechargeable batteries. • Scribbler must be recalibrated from time to time and, even then, is not precise. • Students do not have enough time to do all that they want to do, although some students really got into it and enjoyed every moment

  17. Survey Results

  18. Survey Results (cont)

  19. Survey Results (cont)

  20. Questions, Demo, and Contacts • Questions? • Film • Demo • Thank you and I welcome any later questions/comments you may have – just email me at: proth@spsu.edu • PowerPoint slides available at: http://cse.spsu.edu/proth

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