Club Engineer News - October 2014
In this edition
- School Holiday Program Wrap Up
- Robocup National Competition Wrap Up
- The Age Article "Robotics Workshop Programs Junior Scientists for Success"
- The New Scientist Article "Code Generation"
- Invention of the Blue LED
- Wireless Trams Possible for Melbourne
- Work for Club Engineer
- Inside Adam Savage's Cave: Awesome Robot Spider!
School Holiday Program Wrap Up
Over the September / October 2014 school holidays, we ran two sessions for seven students.
In the mornings, Stavi and Matthew commenced their journey towards solving the Robocup Primary Rescue challenge while StJohn and Jack continued to work on solutions to the Robocup Senior Rescue challenge.
The September 2014 crew from left to right:
Matthes (Y4) and his very successful Primary Rescue robot.
In the afternoons, Will, Andrew and Andrew worked on writing their own Windows screen savers with FreePascal & Lazarus.
Make sure you look at the video below. It's AMAZING what these three achieved with just ten hours of coding.
Robocup Rescue National Competition Wrap Up
The Robocup Junior Australian National Competition was held at the University of Queensland over the weekend of 27 & 28 September. I caught the back end of the Primary & Secondary rescue competitions where three Victorian teams placed. I also sat-in on the RCJA AGM as well as the National Committee meeting to get a feel for how RCJA functions. The highlight of the weekend was working with David Grant interviewing the Open Rescue teams. This gave the opportunity to photograph the Open Rescue robots, as well as interview the robot creators. The degree of innovation, standard of construction and quality of the code was way above and beyond what I expected. Well done to all Open Rescue competitors.
Here is a short video of the final round of the Open Rescue competition:
Here is a sample of the interviews:
The Age Article "Robotics Workshop Programs Junior Scientists for Success"
The Melbourne Age published an article on 15 September 2014 titled "Robotics Workshop Programs Junior Scientists for Success"
If robots are the future, then students at John Monash Science School in Clayton will be prepared. Google recently held a robotics workshop at the school, where students built and programmed robots using LEGO Education EV3 kits with motors, sensors and software.
Students were excited to work with Google engineers rather than teachers, says robotics teacher Linda McIver, who is recognised by Google for excellence in science and technology.
"The students get a kick out of the tangible nature of building the robots," Dr McIver says. "There is a lot of room for creativity, with the students adding all kinds of extra features such as propellers just for the fun of it. Programming the robots gives great feedback on what their code actually does, because they can see the results. They see the robot turn right instead of left, or crash into a wall, and they can tell how well their code works."
Full text for the article is here on The Age website.
The New Scientist Article "Code Generation"
In The New Scientist Magazine, 6 September 2014 there was an article called "Code Generation: Kids who can program before they can read". Here is an extract, and a link to the article.
A grand experiment is about to begin in English schools: computer science will join the three Rs as the fourth core subject for kids as young as 5
"AARGH, this is the most addicting game ever!" says Gabriel. "Do you want to try?" Gabriel is making a fruit machine video game with a twist. "Mine's an aeroplane game because I'm going to be a pilot," he says, spinning round in his chair before turning back to the screen.
At an after-school club in central London, six 9- and 10-year-olds are glued to their laptops. They manoeuvre coloured blocks of code and snap them into place, making bright cartoon figures dance.
Nearby, Imitiyaz has been having trouble with his fireworks. His rockets are launching, but instead of a sparkle of glitter, each one just turns into another rocket. Brow furrowed, he looks around for help....
Invention of the Blue LED
Three Japanese-born researchers have won the Nobel Prize for Physics for inventing a new light source which led to the creation of the LED lamp.
With 20 per cent of the world's electricity used for lighting, it's been calculated that optimal use of LED lighting could reduce this to 4 per cent.
Because they have very low electricity needs, LED lights can be connected to cheap, local solar power - a benefit for more than 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to the electricity grid.
The full story is here on the ABC News site.
A good description of LED technology is on Wikipedia here.
Wireless Trams Possible for Melbourne
An artilce in The Age on October 14, 2014 asks "Could Melbourne ditch its overhead tram wires?"
A growing list of cities around the world, including Sydney, are building wire-free tram lines, powered at ground level to avoid cluttering the streets with catenary. One rail industry leader argues Melbourne should follow Sydney's example and gradually remove the wires that power the city's 250-kilometre tram network.
A new Chinese technology called the supercapacitor, a battery unit "about the size of a milk carton" that sits beneath the tram and recharges at tram stops. "It solves so many issues - I mean the challenges in Melbourne of getting power to the network are huge."
Yarra Trams and Public Transport Victoria plan to build or boost 16 electrical substations around Melbourne to cope with the greater energy demands of the 50 new E-Class trams that are currently being introduced at the rate of one a month. The supercapacitor powers two new tram lines in Guangzhou and Nanjing in southern China. State-owned company China South Rail exhibited the supercapacitor at an international transport industry trade fair in Berlin last month. The trams are able to run for up to four kilometres per charge, the company said.
The full Age article is here.
Work for Club Engineer
The pay is appalling, but the thrill you will get from helping others learn what you love doing will be amazing. Please contact us if you can help.
Lego, everything NOT awsome
At Club Engineer, we love Lego, especially the Mindstorms and Technic product ranges, however Lego also had a range of products co-branded with the oil company Shell's logo. This caught the attention of Greenpeace who set out to break this relationship. This article in The Guardian tells the story:
In July Greenpeace launched a global campaign calling on Lego to end its co-promotion with Shell because we believed Shell is leading the race to exploit the Arctic’s oil reserves under the rapidly melting sea ice.
After overwhelming pressure from the campaign, Lego confirmed on Thursday the end of its 50 year relationship with Shell. Greenpeace has been campaigning to save the Arctic for a number of years. The Arctic sea ice is vanishing at record speed to unprecedented lows due to climate change.
The full article is here.
The Greenpeace video 'Lego, Everything NOT Awsome' is here. The video is beautiful in the way it manipulates our emotions.