LEGO + 3D Printing: An Evolution In Creativity

Our Chief Engineer, Cort, has been leading various LEGO Mindstorm-based CCA’s, teaching the basics of mechatronics with the constrained and limited world of EV3 kits.  Sure, the LEGO Education kits are a masterful creation and a gateway drug to all things STEM.  Don’t get us wrong – We love LEGO!

But, teaching a full STEM curriculum with JUST LEGO can be difficult for a creative engineer knowledgeable in a wide world of technology and fundamental science and math.  So, as one progresses from basic line-following, two-wheeled contraptions to original works of art and mechanical design it can get frustrating to look for a part that may or may not have been thought of a universal joint by LEGO designers, as incredibly awesome as they may be.

Enter LEGO Mindstorm Part Builder.

So, of course, Cort went forth and designed a simple tool for him to easily fabricate universal joints of his own and students’ liking.  The premise is that most of LEGO’s mechanical parts fit in a 3D grid of blocks with holes drilled in various dimensions, and parts that lock these bits into place with respect to one another.  Well, one sometimes just wants to take advantage of that world and enhance existing EV3 kits with non-existent parts that would enable them to put the LEGO pieces with respect to one another in ways cumbersome or impossible to do according to LEGO Mindstorm’s design, whether it was done on purpose or due to other limitations.  LEGO cannot sell every part of every type in unlimited quantities to every LEGO user, so we understand the conundrum.  However, we have found a solution!

We hope this is not trespassing on LEGO’s intellectual property rights.  If anything, we hope it enables LEGO designers to think creatively about their next expansion sets!  For instance,  instead of their usual expansion sets, maybe LEGO can get into the business of 3D Printers, colorful filaments, and pay-per-part or subscription-based libraries of simple LEGO parts…

Or risk the fate of Kodak.

Mambo Jumbo: Creating (and Changing!) a Drone Curriculum for Infocomm & Media

Nan Hua Primary Infocomm & Media CCA hired us to teach a Drone Flight School & Coding curriculum for one semester.  The club had 7 Mambo drones and 15 iPads with Tynker app installed.  Tynker is a Scratch-based block programming educational app, with built-in Mambo drone support via Bluetooth.

Tynker’s block API for Mambo was fairly limited.  Liftoff, Land, Move Up, Move Down, Forward, Backward, Turn # of Angles Clockwise, Counter-Clockwise, etc.  Not much sensory information, no real-time feedback accessible to Tynker API or the programmer.  At first, we were worried we wouldn’t be able to teach this limited API for a whole semester, but we brainstormed a fun-filled, experiential-based, challenge-framed set of lessons that exercise fundamental computing, drone flight basics, aerial photography, animation, and other topics.

Lesson 1
Flight School: basics of drone control system, flight controls, yaw/roll/pitch, etc.

Lesson 2
Obstacle Course Challenge 1: hoops, over and under desks, etc

Lesson 3
Obstacle Course Challenge 2: teams challenge each other in a duel

Lesson 4
Custom Controller: code your own flight controller with controls for funky movements like corkscrew lift, flying in a circle always pointing at center, aerial acrobatics, etc

Lesson 5
Search & Rescue: Obstacle Challenge enhanced with the Mambo’s Grabber accessory for more complicated missions

Lesson 6
Capture the Flag: Use aerial photography to capture shots of secret hiding places of the enemy team.  Retrieve material intelligence data first to win.

Lesson 7
Dance, Dance, Revolution: choreograph a band of drones to fly in an eye-capturing pattern

Lesson 8-12
Mixed Media: Now it’s time for everyone to work together.  Choreograph a mixed media show with drones, animation, and music.

Lessons 8-12 were our original intention for the program’s finale, but now we are involving the club in the new Drone Odyssey Challenge, a Science Center-sponsored, Parrot Mambo coding competition for Primary and Secondary school students.  Just in time!

Our company is flexible in the ways we work with our clients.  We build our relationship with school teachers and administrators on trust and shared passions towards the students’ well-being, enjoyment, and maximal learning potential.  We have no problems with changing course, augmenting our curricula, and delivering new topics with different instructors chosen for optimal outcomes.  Our trainers are imbued with the confidence and the knowledge to lead a complex CCA, a short module, or a single unit workshop  where a prepared slide show, or a prescribed curriculum, may or may not be the right fit for the job at hand.  We think fast on our feet, using our intuition and skills, to get the best job done.  That’s a way of working we would like to instill in the students as well, so why not be the role models they so desperately need…