Robot Waves and Dances – How My Students Do It

Teachers (and other people) often ask me how I go about getting my students to do some of their cool projects.  The simple answer is I let them have as much freedom as I can to design the project themselves, and I give them all the available tools I have to make it easy for them.

We start off by watching the original video by Damien Kee of some youngsters in Australia doing the Wave.

Then we learn the icons we need: Wait For and Move.  You can do the entire Wave and lots of really cool dance projects with just these two.  The project is more about timing, coordination, and cooperation than programming.

After figuring out how to do the Wave themselves, I challenge the students to come up with their own robotic dance.  They write their ideas down on the tables.  (I use whiteboard paint on all my tables and lots of walls):

Splitting off in different directions.

Splitting off in different directions.

Idea 7

 

 

 

 

IMG_2952

 

This one looks like a football play.

This one looks like a football play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idea 6

 

Using algebra to describe their idea.

Using algebra to describe their idea.  Sorry about the upside down pic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The class usually ends up picking and choosing from a few different ideas.  At this point I sometimes see things that think won’t work out, but I usually keep them to myself.  50% of the time I’m wrong and the other half it’s a better learning situation for students to discover things themselves.

Once we know what we’re going to do, we figure out how to line up the robots; in this example the students draw a circle on the floor using chalk (the green rectangle is chalkboard paint.)  We keep a piece of tape for the center and keep a piece of string tied in loops at both ends so the diameter is consistent.  (The red tape is from the project my next period class is working on.)

Then we write down steps on the board, the students take pics with their cellphones, they go back to their computers to program, and they test each move one step at a time.

Here’s the steps we used for this dance:

All robots go in for 2.5 seconds at power 100.

All robots go in for 2.5 seconds at power 100.

And all robots drive backwards for 2.5 seconds at power 100.

And all robots drive backwards for 2.5 seconds at power 100.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This step had the odds (each classes' robots are numbered) going in, then the evens in while the odds go out.

This step had the odds (each classes’ robots are numbered) going in, then the evens in while the odds go out.

At this point we were going to be finished and start the spinning you’ll see at the end.  But the students had gotten to this point quickly and were excited so they brainstormed again.  One group wanted to have each robot go in one at a time, while another wanted groups of robots to go in and out together.  We did both.

Compass points, secondary and tertiary.

Compass points, secondary and tertiary.

Each robot one at a time; notice the use of algebra in figuring out wait times.  X = the number of each student's robot.

Each robot one at a time; notice the use of algebra in figuring out wait times. X = the number of each student’s robot.

And the end.  Each robot spins and plays a note.

And the end. Each robot spins and plays a note.

The students usually take cell phone pics to remember the program and then back to their seats.  And here’s the final result: