Ro­bots as teach­ing aides

The Glengarry News - - News - News

BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON

Staff Programmin­g a robot can be an end­less source of frus­tra­tion.

The mem­bers of École élé­men­taire publique Terre des Je­unes’ robotics club will tell you that.

For much of the spring, pupils at the Alexan­dria school have been sweat­ing and cry­ing (on the in­side, any­way) as they strug­gled to pro­gram a robot to per­form a spe­cific se­quence of move­ments; in this case, a mock fire drill pro­ce­dure.

The se­quence in­volves the robot – which isn’t even a foot tall and is built out of tech­ni­cal Lego pieces – lift­ing a bar­rier over two trees, knock­ing a “civil­ian” (rep­re­sented by more Lego pieces) out of a win­dow, and then trans­port­ing said civil­ians to safety.

“We’re all straight A stu­dents and we’ve been do­ing our school­work at home so we can ded­i­cate the school day to the robot,” ex­plains Zacharie Ques­nel, a Grade 8 stu­dent and de facto leader of the robotics club, shortly be­fore send­ing the robot off on an­other test run. This time, the de­vice lifts the bar­rier with­out in­ci­dent but it also pushes the win­dow over at the same time that it res­cues the civil­ian.

“The turn is still a bit off,” says Ali Yazbeck, Grade 7. “They dock you points for that.”

“They” wound up be­ing the judges at the Three Alarm robotics com­pe­ti­tion that was held last week at the Science and Tech­nol­ogy Mu­seum in Ot­tawa, where Terre des Je­unes placed sec­ond out of nine teams.

Ro­bots are be­com­ing more and more com­mon­place at Terre des Je­unes.

Prin­ci­pal Daniel Lalonde says that his school has re­ceived a $20,000 grant for new robotics which are used in all grades.

As an ex­am­ple, he dis­plays a cater­pil­lar-like robot with many dif­fer­ent sec­tions. One part will cause the cater­pil­lar to move for­ward. An­other part will cause it to turn left by 90 de­grees. Younger stu­dents can as­sem­ble the robot to carry out a spe­cific se­quence, thus teach­ing them valu­able lessons in math­e­mat­ics and other dis­ci­plines.

STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON PHOTO

ROBOT GAMES: École Terre des Je­unes robotics club mem­bers Zacharie Ques­nel, Vin­cent Henri, Mor­gan Jack, Davin Este, and Ali Yazbeck pose with their creations.

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