Physics teacher brings new approach to robotics class

In addition to teaching physics, Steve Cogger teaches the robotics class.

By Molly Friedman

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  In addition to teaching physics, Steve Cogger teaches the robotics class.  

  Beginning the year using NXT LEGOs, students learned the basic ways to program and design their own robots. Cogger said the LNX LEGOs teach the students the basic ways to move a robot from a starting point to an ending point and how to set it to respond to the specific surrounding environment.

  Cogger assigned several projects to accustom the students to the robot designing process in order to move on to the next step.

  “Whether it was having the robot follow a line of black tape or having it drive between a maze and hit a button at the end, students were constantly being tested on their ability to design a robot,” he said.

  As the class progressed, he added new projects to the curriculum that were not part of last year’s course.

  After writing a proposal over the summer and receiving a grant, Cogger received money from the Lab Research Interest Group, which allowed him to obtain certain materials to use for future projects.

 With the money, Cogger set up seven different robot platforms that allow each student to focus on his or her main point of interest with a group.  The students then get together to build their own robot using the provided materials.

  Cogger said students are constantly being tested and graded on their progress.   He believes the best way to grade a student is to get an accurate idea of how the student works over time.

  Freshman Josh Brewster chose to work with the Tetrix and NXT group where he uses the LEGOs to create his robot.

   “I chose to work with these materials in order to see how they work together,” Brewster said.

    Junior Julien Gilbert chose to work on how a wireless PS2 controller can control an Arduino-powered car. An Arduino is a programmable mock brain that is able to attach to any object and be programmed to do anything. 

  Gilbert is also a member of the Robotics Club that meets after school and differs from the robotics class. The club is able to enter competitions and is not counted as fulfilling a science requirement. .

  “I’ve always had an interest in science, especially technology, and taking this class would give me an advance over the other kids in the club,” Gilbert said.

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Author: The Independent

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