VEX Robots can be more competitive when they have addressed several drive motor control challenges:
- Stopping a motor completely when the joystick is released. Joysticks often do not output a value of “zero” when released, which can cause motors to continue turning slowly instead of stopping.
- Starting to move gradually, not suddenly, after being stopped. When a robot is carrying game objects more than 12 inches or so above the playing field, a sudden start can cause the robot to tip over.
- Having motor speeds be less sensitive to small joystick movements at slow speeds. Divers seeking to position the robot precisely during competition need “finer” control over slow motor speeds than fast motor speeds.
These challenges can be solved using one or more “if” statements in the code controlling the robot, however using a single polynomial function can often solve all of these challenges in one step. A graph can help illustrate the challenges and their solution:
Continue reading Polynomials and VEX Drive Motor Control
As a parent, I look for two categories of attributes when choosing a school for my child:
– Ones which benefit my child directly
– Ones which benefit my child indirectly, by helping others (teachers, parents) do their jobs more effectively
Schools that satisfy more of the attributes in both categories are likely to have happier parents and more successful students.
The Administration and Teachers Should Help My Child
- Being aware of history. Before the start of each school year, my child’s current teacher(s) should have reviewed all of
– last years’ teacher comments for my child
– my child’s transcript (all courses, all years at the school)
- Helping my child to both pursue existing Continue reading What A Parent Wants From A School
Once a set of learning objectives have been settled on for an activity, problem, or project, what should the problem’s context be? Since linear equations model situations where there is a constant rate of change, common contexts for linear equation projects often include the following:
- Steepness, height, angle
Examples: road grade, hillside, roof, skateboard park element, tide height over the two weeks before (or after) a full moon, sun angle at noon over a six month period
- Estimating time to complete a task (setup plus completion)
Examples: mowing a lawn, painting a wall, writing a research paper
- Purchase and delivery costs of bulk materials
Examples: mulch, gravel, lumber
- Purchasing a service that charges by consumption
Examples: cell phone, electricity, water, movie rental, etc.
- Total earnings over time from differing wage and bonus plan structures
Examples: hiring bonuses, longevity bonuses
- Energy use over time
Examples: calories burned, electricity, heating oil, gasoline
- Game points accumulated over time
Examples: by a professional athlete, a team, a video game player
- Pollutant levels over time Continue reading Linear Equation Activity Ideas
A recent eSchool News article by Meris Stansbury lists ten skills cited by its readers as being most important for today’s students to acquire:
- Communicate effectively, and with respect
- Be resourceful
- Be accountable
- Know how to learn
- Think critically
- Be happy
The list is interesting to ponder. I would not argue that any skills on the list should be dropped, however I suspect we could have endless debates about what order to list them in or how to best group them. I am happy to note that all of the skills are beneficial in studying just about any subject or discipline.
There are a few additional skills that I would advocate adding to, or being more explicit about in the above list:
Steve Jobs spoke at the Stanford Commencement ceremonies in 2005. While his speech lasted only 15 minutes, it contains some wonderful advice – so I encourage you to click on this link to watch it. He will be sorely missed.
What was “the best” course you ever took? Probably one for which you had to work quite hard, one that you perceived as challenging from the outset, one for which you rose to the challenge. The course probably had a reputation as a tough course, so you probably added it to your schedule with care and made sure you did not take another really challenging course at the same time.
Major time commitments are regularly called for in schools: for musical or dramatic performances, athletic seasons, and some classes too. Could we improve the way such opportunities are scheduled so that students can experience as many as possible each year without creating a killer workload for themselves at critical times during the year?
What if schools offered “challenges” that lasted for either half or a full semester? Each student could be required to be enrolled in two challenges at all times. A research project, art or engineering project, dramatic or musical performance could each count as a challenge, as could a varsity sport, as could any number of academic and extra-curricular offerings. To qualify as a “challenge”, an offering would have to:
- Culminate in a public performance, presentation, or display of student work.
- Involve extensive Continue reading Scheduling for Curricular Depth and Challenge
Many widely used math textbooks seem written for a traditional “lecture-style” teacher. They can be challenging to teach from if you are trying to reduce time spent “talking at” the class.
Some of the NSF-funded mathematics texts published over the past decade make it much easier for a teacher to avoid lecture mode, but:
– from a parent’s perspective, some texts don’t seem to have much of a role for the teacher, so how can/should a teacher add obvious value (in student and parent eyes) to what is in the text?
– the lack of prominently highlighted boxes around all information needed for the test is a source of student gripes. Students need to re-learn “how to learn” when a text or teacher takes a different approach, so time and effort needs to be devoted to this at the start of the year.
– the format of each unit can begin to Continue reading Lecturing: There Are Better Ways ToTeach