Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hello 3rd Grade Parents,

My name is Rachel Clawson and my daughter Kennedy is a 3rd grader at Gallimore this year. You are receiving this e-mail because your son or daughter expressed interest in participating in robotics this year.
As many of you may be aware, the lego competition that the club participated in last year is only for 4th and 5th graders. Last year the 3rd graders were still able to be a part of the club by spending time learning basic programming online, but did not have any real opportunites to work with the robots or compete. We have just learned about a competition that will allow 3rd graders to enter, but we need to act fast if we want to participate. 
The Wonder League Robotics Competition, is a free competition that runs about 2 months. Students will team up to design solutions to real-world science and technology challenges by programming and building extensions for their Dash & Dot robots. Please click on the link above for more information about the competition. My daughter has been programming with Dash and Dot all summer and they are wonderful! I think it will be a very do-able first step for the 3rd graders that will be both fun and challenging. 
The biggest issue is that registration for this competition ends Monday October 17th. That only gives us 6 days to get organized!!!
In talking with Joe Rork, the 4th/5th grade robotics lead, here is what the the 3rd grade robotics program would involve for those who choose to compete:
  • Email me, Rachel Clawson (rachel@gallimorerobotics.com) by this Friday the 14th if your child would like to compete. 
  • The students will meet for approx. 2 hours once a week until the December 15th deadline. At this time we plan to meet Thursday night at Gallimore from 6:30 to 8:30. I will let you know as soon as we nail this time down. (We will not meet over the Thanksgiving holiday)
  • Our first meeting would be next Thursday. (Again sorry to rush things, but we have to get started if we want to make the deadline)
  • The fee for the 3rd graders would be somewhere between $80 to $100. This would be to purchase enough robots for each team to use as well as for a team t-shirt. I don't know when this would be due, but probably soon as we would need to order the robots ASAP in order to start working with them
  • Each team would need one adult to help advise. Joe said that a few people said they would be interested coaching, but I would need to know exactly how many parents are willing to coach to ensure enough supervision. If you are unable to come Thursday nights, I think we could make other times work. The biggest thing is that you can commit 2 hrs a week for the next two months. 
If you have any other questions, please e-mail me. I am excited to be a part of Gallimore robotics this year and look forward to working with you and your children.

Thanks,

Rachel Clawson

3 comments:

  1. Hello Rachel and Joe,
    Thank you for taking the initiative. I am interested for my third grader son to participate in robotics. I have some questions. With due respect to both of you, I don't want to discourage at all. However, I like to know before jumping into buying some robots that are completely different than last years, if we are giving enough thoughts to build Galimore Robotics club in a planned way. I don't know much about these robots. I like to learn from Joe who has years of experience and knowledge. Is this competition going to help these kids next year in the lego competitions? We bought some robots last year. So we will probably be participating in the similar competitions with 4th-5th graders. Now if we buy these dash and dot robots with different system for 3rd graders, we should be continuing the same competition every year for the 3rd graders right? Or are we going to buy new robots every year? Do we have a plan to build a Gallimore Robotics that would be a world champion in the area in a few years. I think we need to pick our competitions with a solid planning in mind.
    Please help me understand the situation. Also, Joe, will there be any activities to learn the EV3 programming for 3rd graders this year.
    Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    Saida

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  2. Saida,
    Thank you for the great questions and these are definitely valid concerns. My original thoughts regarding a 3rd grade club was to focus more on the programming side using languages like scratch or to pursue the Lego option of the WeDo platform. Scratch had an advantage in that it is available in many different platforms and is a drag and drop language, however as a standalone product it is focused on the presentation of graphics. Scratch *can* be used to program other things, which I will The WeDo platform is much more closely aligned with the projects that the 4th and 5th graders are working on and therefore more aligned to our overall plans. I was unfamiliar with Dash and Dot until Rachel brought it to my attention. I believe Dash and Dot have a few advantages over the first two options:
    1. They can be programmed using many different languages including Scratch.
    2. The language that comes with the robot is a drag and drop which translates well to Lego next year
    3. They are cheaper than the WeDo kits
    4. They have less parts to lose/keep track of
    5. They have two robots per team, which will enable coaches to keep more children engaged
    6. There is a competition already in place for Dot and Dash

    The overall plan would be to reuse the Dash and Dot robots every year for the 3rd graders and continue to use the EV3 for the 4th and 5th graders. I believe that learning the programming for Dash and Dot will translate well to the EV3 environments. Additionally, Rachel and I were discussing ways to possibly integrate the 3rd graders into the older program in the winter (TBD).

    I hope this answers your concerns!
    --joe

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