It's Mayan Adventure week 2! We've been waiting for Jim Kelly's LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0: The King's Treasure, since we did our first Mayan Robotics Camp in 2007.
We've got ten kids on two teams who will spend the week building and programming robots to explore a Cave that hides a Mayan Treasure. About half the group has been at both of our earlier Mayan Camps that were held for our teams.
The Green Mayan Monkeys are five team members who will all be on on FIRST LEGO League teams in the fall. Most are members of the Bio Stormers, but one team member is from the Hurricanes. With five kids, we've allowed them to design, build and program, two different robots each day. It gives them a chance to try different ideas and see what works.
The second team is the SEAR team, made up kids from the FIX IT FIRST Tech Challenge team. They are building robots with Tetrix parts and programming in RobotC.
The book is written with five challenges which we had planned to use one each day. The kids got invited to tour an engineering lab on Friday morning, so we had to make some changes to the challenges. I'll describe the changes with the info for each day. The day one challenge follows the story as written by Jim Kelly.
Day 1 - Maze Challenge
The robot has to go down a tunnel, turn right and then navigate it's way through an unknown maze to find the pressure plate. The robot sits on the pressure plate for 5 seconds, (to deactivate the trap) and then has to find it's way back out of the maze. The tunnel is one foot square and has open pits all around it after the first turn!
Here's a picture of the entrance to the tunnel.
You can see the small tunnel opening surrounded by Mayan glyphs.
In this picture, you see the path the robot must follow, surrounded by 'pits'.
The blue circle is the pressure plate at the end of the maze.
It took the kids a while to think about how the robot could find the pressure plates without following into the pit. They came up with a couple of different ideas including using light or ultrasonic sensors on the leading edge of the robot, and creating an arm that would run along the ground in front of the robot. When it dropped over the edge into the pit, the arm hits the touch sensor and the robot knows to back up.
For one robot, they used two ultrasonic sensors on the sides of the robot as well as the light sensor in front. Any time the ultrasonic sensor suddenly got a large distance, it meant the robot was driving at an angle and was about to drive into a pit. The robot turns a little bit away from the pit and continues in it's path.
Points for Maze Challenge
50 First time Robot finds a pit and doesn't fall in!
50 Robot gets to the pressure plate
50 Sits on the pressure plate for 5 seconds
50 Gets back on it's own.
Penalty 50 points for a robot that falls into the pit during a score run!
The programming proved to be a bit of a challenge. They needed nested loops, and some teams are using switches. By 3pm, they were making progress, but it no team was near finishing. We decided to let them have a bit of time on Tuesday morning to keep working on the programs and finish testing.