We are wanting to start some robotics groups in 2017. This year we have had a play with Scratch and some Sphero robots. We have recently been to a demo of VEX IQ and are keen on what that has to offer. We have also looked at lego robotics. Our problem is that we mainly use chromebooks. We have a couple of windoes machines per class, sets of chromebooks and one small set of ipads. With byod, most of our students have chromebooks!
So while cost is a consideration, we are wanting some advice on what path we should take. We envisage having some students with quite advanced coding knowledge down to the keen novice.
If we had groups of around 20 students, how many 'robot' kits would we need? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
We experimented with Mbot this year which uses Scratch. They were OK but not really reliable. The line follower sensors broke very easily and there were lots of hiccups where the code was correct but for some reason the robot would not do what you'd expect. Latest hitch is that several are now refusing to download programmes onto the robots and will only run via cable or wireless. This has led to frustrations and students losing motivation. Have cancelled lessons for the rest of the year now.
We would not have been able to implement a programme with Lego or Vex as we simply do not have that kind of money, but in my experience Mbot is affordable but needs to be balanced against reliability.
You will also need to make your own lessons. The ideas in the manual were really difficult to understand and not written in clear English.
Wish we had money for Lego as from everything I hear this is robust, reliable, well tried kit.
Thanks Chris. I had a quick look at Mbots yesterday, but we are quite impressed with VEX IQ which I think works out cheaper than Lego. We want to start with bare minimum and then add to it. We liked the idea of the Robot Virtual Worlds. If we can sort enough Windows machines we may just use that this year and look to purchase actual robots in 2018.
What do think is an ideal number of students to work with? These groups will be an option available to interested students - not part of a regular class programme.
We ran it with 1:2, whole class, 2 teachers. I won't be running it with more than a half class next year if I'm on my own because of the level of support our students will need and to make sure the kit is safe. 1:2 works fine, but because the students hadn't chosen to join the programme, there was a fair amount of pairs where the keen student did all the work and the other one sat back unless encouraged.
We have been using a Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot for the last few years. As Chris has said they are on the expensive side but the reliability and versatility of them pays off. However I've only been working with groups of 10 or so, any more than that and it gets a bit messy and students don't have enough involvement to keep them motivated.
These work through a computer programme that you download for free so I would imagine would be fine on a Chromebook.
We have entered the First Lego League tournament for the last 3 years, this has been really great to encourage the students to work towards something with their learning.
Hope that helps!
Thanks Emma. Are you an intermediate? I like the idea of only 10 students - this would certainly bring the robot cost down. Do you have students working in pairs, small groups or individually - just thinking of the number of Windows computers I may need if we decide to go with VEX.
I agree with Emma, that the EV3 may be worth the initial cost outlay. Lego is so reliable and easy for all ages to work with (we are using them with Year 3-8, one eV3 between 2 students). The sensors work well, you have the option of datalogging and we have also purchased science add-on kits that can be used to investigate renewable energy (solar, wind). There are a few grants around - our PTA managed to fund 6 EV3s through a grant application.
Chromebooks would be a bit limiting for robotics - most robots (I think VEX and EV3 anyway) would need PC or Mac to run the software. I can't think of any robotics software that works in the cloud that would be compatible with Chromebooks.
Thanks for the replies everyone. Having looked at both VEX IQ and Lego Mindstorms, I am tending towards VEX! I was impressed by a demo VEX gave at a local intermediate and their pricing and components are affordable. They also offer lots of support in NZ and have some great resources to begin with (many of which can be used with EV3).
I would love to hear from anyone who has experience with VEX! We are not committed to anything yet, so the research is continuing!!!
Sorry I didn't see this post before but I have got quite a bit experience with VEX IQ. I teach it to year 7/8 at my school in Palmerston North, and also do holiday programmes for primary/intermediate students, currently helping out some primary schools as well.
It goes without saying that I think that VEX and VEX IQ is the best thing since sliced bread. It offers so many levels of success, not only with technology and programming but also with communication, cooperation and planning. The competition element uses a format of teams working together, which is just amazing.
Don't hesitate to contact me for more info or look at the kiwibots.co.nz website for more info under VEX IQ