Robotics 2019-2020

What is this thing all about?  Each student in the robotics program is expected to strive towards the goal of building and programming interesting robotics projects of their own design.  They receive support with learning resources, help with troubleshooting and problem solving, and are provided with a wide variety of hardware, electronics, and construction materials to suit any project.  There is a structured path to go from a beginner with zero knowledge or expectation of what a robot is, all the way to…building some truly amazing creations.

A handout from last year’s robotics information meeting addressing most questions about the program is available here.

Returning students will work on robotics projects.  Ideally this is a project the students propose and design independently.  If students have trouble selecting a project, we will work together to pick from a list of ideas.  Returning students have the option of learning a new robotics platform such as VEX, the Pololu 3pi robots, or a 3d printed (and customizable!) Arduino-based robot such as the SMARS or Otto DIY.

New students will work through the Carnegie Mellon EV3 curriculum and robotics challenge tasks.  The challenge tasks build upon each other and teach how to use all EV3 sensors, motors, and basic programming techniques.  Each one is a simplified example of a real-world robot’s tasks and behaviors.  Ultimately, the curriculum is a means to the end of acquiring the skills and knowledge to move on to designing and building independent projects from the student’s imagination.

All students are able to customize and supplement their robot designs using parts they design and print on the school’s 3d printer.

The instructor will help with design suggestions to ensure students are proposing realistic yet challenging projects, breaking down a large ambitious project into more manageable pieces, and programming and construction problem-solving.

We will conduct several competitions, including the second annual robot drag race, and the ever-popular sumo robots.

No remote controls.  All robots must be autonomous.  Students will check their phones in at 3:15pm when Robotics begins.

Most students (all 6th graders) will share a robot kit with a partner.

There is a $250 program fee, with need-based scholarships available.  Talk to Sr. Pablo regarding scholarship opportunities.

New things returning students can try if there is interest:

  • Design and print robot parts on the new 3D Printer
  • Arduino and Raspberry Pi robotics projects with sensors and motors
  • Otto DIY, an Arduino bipedal walking robot built from simple parts and a 3D printed body, customizable by the student.
  • Loading alternate operating systems onto the Lego EV3 bricks for a different or more powerful programming experience
  • Creating robots which contribute to the students’ Science Fair projects


“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”  — Theodore Roosevelt

All students will program and build robots.  Students should be prepared to work, challenge themselves, and develop their skills and knowledge of robotics.  It will be fun, but occasionally it will also be frustrating and will require persistence and hard work.

This is a program requiring a student application and demonstration of interest.  Students are expected to have personal goals and interests they want to pursue through robotics.  All students accepted to the program are expected to fully participate in building and programming robots.

As this program runs through early May, it conflicts with several other extracurricular activities.  It is not possible to fully participate in robotics and perform in a principal role in the musical (chorus and crew are usually OK).

Students are not permitted to leave campus between class dismissal and robotics (e.g., no runs to Diva for a quick cuppa).

If a student is absent for the school day, no separate notification is required for being absent from robotics.  Otherwise, all absences must be communicated in advance via email to the instructor.

Students who choose to engage in disruptive behavior or otherwise fail to participate will be asked to take a break for a week or two or reconsider their goals and participation in the robotics program.

Program Application

The application should be completed by the student, not the parent or guardian.  Participants will be selected based on the application content and not by the order in which applications are submitted.  Applications will remain open until the class is full.  After students are selected, they will receive a registration form to complete payment of the program fee and a permission slip.  Meetings will begin in October and will be Wednesday afternoons from 3:15 – 5:00 PM through May.

There is space for twelve students.  This program is only available to students in grades six, seven, and eight.