Sumo Robots Learn to Write: Andrea C. Sledge, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington, firstname.lastname@example.org James Hendricks, Southridge High School, Kennewick, Washington, Hendji.KSDMAIL.KSD1@ksd.org
Why? • a high interest, high technology learning activity to high school students with career path interests in science and technology; • a high interest, high technology leaning activity to be disseminated for replication; • complex entry level skills and abilities presently used in the research and development industry;
potential popularity of sumo robot competitions as sports in high school; and • an enriched experience for a teacher intern in the use of educational technology and interdisciplinary team teaching.
Who? • Secondary school teachers in two courses, Senior Engineering Technology and Language Arts, designed the curriculum. • Seniors in these two courses • The teacher intern provided instructional support and delivery over the course of an academic year. • The university faculty supervised the teacher intern and collaboration with the classroom teachers through bi-monthly visits.
What do the students do? • complete a senior project for the Electrical Engineering course; • build mini sumo robots from basic electronic components; • program the robots; and • compete against other schools in mini sumo robot competitions. • problem solve and troubleshoot to configure and design sumo robots for peak competitive performance; and • build skills looked for in entry-level electrical engineers.
A mini sumo robot is… • a small, autonomous, mobile robot with infrared sensors located on the bottom of the chassis • capable of traveling across a three-foot diameter circular arena called a “dohyo” (black surface with a 1” white perimeter • built from simple off-the-shelf kits to elaborate custom-built machines with enormous microprocessor power and high torque motors
What happens in a sumo robot match? • When infrared light from the sumo robot is reflected from the white line, the sumo robot receives an input signal. • The robot’s program will stop its drive wheel motors, back up, turn around, then travel forward again across the “dohyo.” • Random collisions occur between the robot opponents, which lead to pushing matches. • Eventually, one robot will push its opponent off the “dohyo.”
The PT3 grant funded : • an interactive, computer assisted whiteboard for lesson presentation and idea development; • portable USB-connected hard drives to store and transfer large volumes of student movie data between classrooms; • basic electronic components for twenty mini sumo robot circuit fabrications; • the manufacture of twenty printed circuit boards by a commercial supplier; and • servomotors for twenty mini sumo robots; and • a video camera.
Students completed a series of integrated assignments: • detailed and individually written technical reports; • CAD drawings using 3-D parametric modeling software; • electronic schematic and printed circuit board development using industry standard software; • a promotional movie to highlight their product; a web site containing all aspects of their research; and • a tournament between the secondary school students and engineers interested in robotics.
. A panoramic photo of the sumo robot competition. Photo by Gabe Guillen
The competing robots are placed on the arena. • The designers simultaneously pressed the sumo robot start buttons at the command of the referee. (The robots were preprogrammed to start five seconds after the button was pressed.) • When the robots began to move, music played over the loud speakers. • The robots started to travel across the 36-inch diameter, black arena with a white line painted around the perimeter.
The robots eventually collided, and began pushing each other. Sometimes they got tangled and appeared to perform a “dance”. • The referee had the authority to stop and restart the bout after 15 seconds of non-contact or entanglement. • Eventually, one robot pushed the other off the arena.
Robots advanced through the tournament chart for the final battle between two finalists. • The champion was determined after winning two out of three bouts. A team of secondary students won the tournament with their mini sumo robot named “Shade.”
“Shade,” the winning sumo robot. Shade was built by a team of two students from the Science and Technology Academy.
The Science and Technology Academy is made up blocked classes with Language Arts and Science. • The Senior Language Arts class played a major role in the sumo robot project in developing the documentation of the student-created technology.
Types of Documentation • technical writing • creative writing • movie making • hypertext
Sumo Robots Learned to Write • a multimedia presentation of research (information collection, organization, and analysis); • a parts list that included a technical description of each item; • editing of the Sumo Challenge document for language mechanics; • a lab book documenting the Sumo Robot design process; • four technical reports; • creative writing (short story, poem, jokes);
videos (instructional documentary, promotional music, “trash talk”); • a sumo robot web site; • a business and marketing plan and public relations items (name, business cards, advertising flyer, video); • research reports and creative writing in global studies, science, math; social studies, music; and • multimedia presentations marketing student engineering skills.
The Year-Long Teacher Intern – the 1st year • a Language Arts/Drama major • participation in the Sumo Robot Project through the academy’s Language Arts class (one period daily) • taught or co-taught the integrated assignments related to technology, such as the technical writing, poetry and movie creation during the quarter of her formal student teaching experience
Screen capture image of an initial web page for the web site about sumo robots.
The University Faculty Member –1st year • liaised with the participating teachers • provided expertise in content area literacy (reading and writing to learn). • supervised of the teacher intern before and during the student teaching term • The faculty member observed the teacher intern every two weeks, on average. • She was videotaped on a regular basis in the Language Arts class.
STEPS • Supervision of the teacher intern • This software was used in the direct and video-taped observations of the intern. • Behaviors were recorded as timed or tallied data. • The software generated reports describing duration, frequency and sequence of behaviors. • These data and related reports became one of the bases for feedback to the interns.
The faculty member’s discipline was Literacy Education, with expertise in reading and writing in content fields. • The year-long intern was a Drama and English Language Arts major -- no Technology Education pre-service teachers could participate, given their course schedules. • The project was designed and scheduled for implementation prior to the high school joining the grant.
Inquiry learning was one of the instructional frameworks common to the Science and Technology Academy classes. • Science and Technology Academy teachers were well-versed in engineering and/or instructional technologies, with instructional technology already a part of their curriculum design. • The distance between the university and the project site
Outcomes • Curriculum Redesign & Institutionalization of Technology Use • The students in the Science and Technology Academy had a pre-existing interest in and comfort with technology.
Advanced Technology Courtesy of PT3 In the Engineering Technology class, students learned… • software programming; • designing and using printed circuit boards; • creating circuit schematics with Protel DXP; • editing code for microprocessors;
creating technical drawings with SolidWorks and AutoCad; • creating animation movies with SolidWorks, Flash, Maya or other software; • creating video short films related to the sumo robot design or performance; and • designing web sites which incorporated the ProtelDXP schematic and circuit board designs, SolidWorks animations, and AutoCad and Rhino drawings.
In Senior Language Arts, students • enhanced their word processing and research skills • created QuickTime movies as part of the Senior-to-Senior and college applications projects.
The secondary teachers: • gained access to additional technology resources • enhanced technologies that were part of their existing teaching practice: microprocessor circuits for the sumo robots and provided small format videotaping equipment used for course video projects
New Teacher Technology Enhancement • The year-long intern participated in the Sumo Robot project through the Science and Technology Academy Senior English/Language Arts class (students designed the robots). • She learned, in support of the senior projects in the English course and the technical writing of the Sumo Robot project design and competition: • how to use small format videotaping equipment • how to create QuickTime movies • The PT3 grant purchased a laptop computer for her use during the course of her participation in the grant.
Faculty Technology Enhancement • The faculty member learned: • STEPS, the observational software used as part of the supervision of the teacher intern • how to use small format videotaping equipment • The PT3 grant provided a laptop computer on which this software resided. • An additional research project is planned using the STEPS software to record and analyze tutor behaviors in pre- and in-service literacy courses. She learned
At Southridge High School • The Sophomore Engineering Technology class was the new context for the design of sumo robots. • Students and staff continued to use the educational technology acquired with PT3 funding on a daily basis. • The PT3 project work gathered momentum with technology design updates and more dissemination resulting in more students and teachers involved from other schools. • Some seniors involved in the first year of Project Sumo Robot and for the Engineering Technology teacher had summer internships in industry.
At the University • No PT3 teacher intern involved in Project Sumo Robot • Efforts to link university courses with the Science and Technology Academy • The university faculty member spoke to the Science and Technology Academy teachers to identify learning activities for which they wanted development support. • The idea was that secondary teaching majors, as part of their course requirements for a reading in content fields course, would design activities that addressed these activities.
Sophomore and Senior Language Arts teachers identified several potential projects. (Only one of these related directly to Science and Technology – “The Perfect School,” a collaboration between the Drafting and Sophomore Language Arts classes.). • As part of the requirements of the pre-service reading course, student teams designed Problem-Based Leaning (PBL) units.
Students were grouped by content areas that related to each of the teacher-identified projects and were assigned to a quarter-long project. They included aforementioned “The Perfect School,” college selection investigation, independent study of novels, conditioning programs for cheer squads, and enrichment English programs for gifted students. • At the end of the quarter, these PBL units were submitted to the teachers for their review and feedback.
Conclusions • Sumo robots “learned to write” as they “learned to move.” • High school engineering technology students learned design skills that were relevant to industry. • High school engineering students used writing for multiple career-related purposes.
Technology supported the acquisition of both sets of knowledge, skills, and abilities in authentic contexts. • The strategy of just-in-time technology training provided a teacher intern with competencies to carry into her own classroom, and provided the university faculty with a methodology to enhance supervision of preservice and inservice teachers in tutoring and classroom contexts.