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[DPRG] Teaching programming and technology to kids via personal robotics

Subject: [DPRG] Teaching programming and technology to kids via personal robotics
From: Huff, Brian L bhuff at uta.edu
Date: Mon Feb 22 11:14:13 CST 2010

Hello Wes,

I would be interested in contributing to your effort.  We have spoken before concerning the use of C# in robotics applications.  I also have a 4th Grader who I would like to introduce to programming.  

I understand and appreciate software development concepts but have had trouble getting over the initial learning curve of C# development.

I might be able to help broaden the effort by developing sub-classes for alternative hardware.  I could try to duplicate your implementation on controller X and I could see it I can support the same methods, attributes, behaviors on controller Y that I might be more familiar with.  Hope the result would be transparent to the development system user.  They just pick which hardware they want to use.  (Yes, I know it is never that simple but that is where the challenge is and where proprietary, "closed" development systems fail).

The key for me will be to try and follow someone else's architecture.  In software design I do believe that too many chefs can spoil the broth.  I think I could learn a lot by being a prep. Cook.  

Please let me know.

Brian Huff
-----Original Message-----
From: dprglist-bounces at dprg.org [mailto:dprglist-bounces at dprg.org] On Behalf Of Wes Grimes
Sent: Friday, February 19, 2010 11:06 AM
Subject: [DPRG] Teaching programming and technology to kids via personal robotics

At the last DPRG meeting, I was really impressed by the work that Ron did building a teaching platform for an elementary school class.

The presentation got me thinking about how to leverage this hobby as a teaching aid for kids. 

I have both of my kids, 5th and 6th grades, programming in an environment from Carnegie Mellon called Alice (www.alice.org).
It is a great little "Java on rails" environment that uses bright
colors and drag and drop to teach the kids basics of OOP and Flow Control without the chance of making any errors. The program creates a virtual
3d world that they can manipulate objects in and play back on the
screen. It is amazing how easy it is for the kids to pick up and learn.

What I am thinking of is creating an Alice-esque environment for personal robotics. 
The screen shot of my prototype can be seen at : http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4063/4370114527_6c71d84ec0_o.jpg
A screen shot of Alice for reference can be seen at : http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4044/4370865462_aba4bd2e3c_o.jpg 
Don't worry, Alice is an
open source project, so I don't believe there are any IP
issues here... Besides, I am really just using their idea (along with Ron's) as a muse

I wanted to know if anyone had any interest in being involved in this project. 

am writing the environment in C#.Net. The Robot definition files will be
XML documents, so that I can create plugins for different hardware
platforms. The communication to the robot will be a custom protocol
serial stream of bytes. Something like:
"StartBytes-CommandBytes-PinByte-ValueBytes-EndBytes'. The controller
on the robot would have code to interpret this stream and take the correct action.
It would also be able to send a stream back that would fire events in
the teaching platform that could be wired to classes. I have not really
gotten that far yet, so I am open and hopeful for guidance,
suggestions, and involvement. 


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