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CoderDojo-Metis: More fun than a bag of clowns!


I was invited by Hakan, a Computer Science teacher at the Metis Montessori Lyceum (a secondary level school), to be a guest speaker at the Metis CoderDojo in Amsterdam last weekend and it was so much fun!  The theme for the day was line following robots with LEGO MINDSTORMS.  I was a little intimidated at first, nothing is scarier than 30 kids staring at you while you explain things to them, not to mention all the parents.

After introducing myself and explaining what we were going to be doing, I showed them how you can make a simple line follower using both the standard EV3 software and ROBOTC Graphical.  I had originally also planned to include a challenge where the kids had to program a line follower that was able to ride around in an orderly queue without banging into the robot in front of it.  However, that proved to be a bit too much to ask for inside a 4 hour period.

It really was a full house and we had quite a few extra kids turn up at the last minute, so there were definitely no empty seats! Hakan had already prepared lots of robots for the kids to use.  There were both EV3 and NXT based robots, all mostly the standard LEGO Education models.  Some kids brought their own robot, which was great.  Most of them had their own computers with them.

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What I thought was very cool, was that most teams actually used ROBOTC Graphical, rather than the official EV3 software.  They and their parents all thought it was a lot more intuitive and quick to use.  That gave me a nice sense of professional pride, of course.

About an hour before the end of the CoderDojo session, we started the race.  We made a track that wasn’t too frustratingly difficult to navigate but would still provide a bit of a challenge.

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They all got about 2-3 chances to let their robot navigate the line.  Some were more successful than others.  The fastest one beat the others by about a minute.  There was much cheering and clapping as the robots were making their way along the line.  The teams that got first and second place won prizes, a ROBOTC product license of their choice.  Most picked ROBOTC for MINDSTORMS, one wanted the Virtual Brick and another the Robot Virtual Worlds.

The day was great, the kids loved it and so did the parents.  It was such an exciting and fun time and I cannot wait to do it again.  A big thank you to Hakan for organising it and to River, Renee, Laura and all the parents and other kids for helping out.

There are lots more photos on the CoderDojo-Metis website, please take a look.  If you’ve ever thought about helping out at a CoderDojo, stop thinking about it and find out if there’s one near you!  Go check out the CoderDojo website.  Teaching kids about problem solving and logical thinking are skills that will benefit them in every aspect of their lives and is a greatly rewarding experience.

You can find my presentation here.  It’s in Dutch, though.


About Xander

Xander Soldaat is a Software Engineer and former Infrastructure Architect. He loves building and programming robots. He recently had the opportunity to turn his robotics hobby into his profession and has started working for Robomatter, the makers of ROBOTC and Robot Virtual Words.