This workshop was put together by Simon Rininsland and Stefan Höhn
We chose the mbot as a robot for the devoxx4Kids because it provides a lot of actors and sensors while being a small robot that is still at a price that would be affordable for parents whose kids fell in love with the robot after the workshop. Programming it is easy as it uses a Scratch-based GUI that allows quick learning for kids. Finally mBot looks cute and is fun to work with.
The workshop only consists of the presentation. Currently the english version - even though translated and available -lacks a few translated english graphics but you should be able to deal with it until it has been finalized by us (feel free to contribute)...
Basic and advanced workshop
The original basic workshop was created to be finished within roughly 80-90 minutes. Later in upcoming events we noticed that we had kids that are already experienced enough with mBot that they would long for more which is when we started creating the advanced workshop which is another set of cards.
The advanced workshop
The advanced workshop much more follows a didactic approach in that the intent is to lead the kids to really learn programming. The topic is just too advanced to "just" let the kids play around - in this case it is a bit more mentor-driven. However care was taken to put a lot of interactivity into the course. It is very important that the kids not just copy the provided blocks but that the mentor really develops those with the kids together and engages in a continuous conversation. Within this workshop we develops a program that lets mBot follow a line with the line following sensor. Note that the algorithm is not super elegant but it is easy enough to be jointly developed with the kids and understandable. There is enough room at the end for further experiments.
Workshop handout for the Kids
The idea of the workshop is based on giving "cards" to the kids with which they can go forward step by step while being supported by their mentors. You will see that the workshop is a lot of fun.
It was THE HIGHLIGHT of our devoxx4kids day.
- You should print out the slides. Cut the pages with the cards into half and we recommend punching a hole and bind them with a strap or a thread (the luxury version would be to laminate the cards and staple them).
- Do a thorough training with the mentors. Our experience is that it takes something around 3 to 4 hours and be warned: the mentors quickly get pretty creative ;-)
- Make sure you follow the course as it is for the first time. We have carefully build up the course the way it is. It increases by difficulty and tries to up more and more by building on top what was learned before. Try to refrain from adding pieces of you don't have experience yet
- One of the most tricky things is connecting to the mBot. Bluetooth sometimes is tricky. Here are some hints:
- Only couple one PC with one mBot. This prevents confusion when choosing the "right" mBot for your personal setup.
- You need to couple the PC first to the mBot bluetooth, only then search for it within mBlock.
- Sometimes USB connection does not work, check in PC settings if driver is install correctly. If not, try a different USB port which need not have a "wrong" driver applied and then choses the newest one.
- On the Mac do not look for the Bluetooth connection but rather connect through "serial" and look out for something like "Makeblock-Eletspp"...
- Train the mentors on how to solve those issues.
- Note down the mac addresses of the mBot and place a sticky paper underneath the each mBot with the mac address. That helps you to know which mBot is which in case of confusion
Don't hesitate to get in touch with us if you have questions or need help