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  • #31
    Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

    Originally posted by dluders View Post
    Thanks, EV3Lessons/Droids Robotics, for helping so many people around the world! Your work is greatly appreciated by thousands.
    I have a lot of respect for what Droids Robotics has done. They have put a lot of great material out on ev3lessons.com, and they have helped many FLL teams learn about robotics. Great work!

    What I don't like about ev3lessons.com is that the code for the advanced lessons is available to download directly. The site provides ready-to-use MyBlocks for many common FLL tasks. For helping kids learn programming, providing ready-to-use downloadable code is counter-productive. The kids will often take the short-cut of just plugging in the MyBlocks without understanding what they are doing.

    I think even the simple act of forcing a kid to recreate a MyBlock by hand from a website or video tutorial is an improvement over letting them directly download the code.

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    • #32
      Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

      The downloadable EV3Lessons.com My Blocks saves time -- time that could be used to solve other problems. CCVH noted that "The FLL season is very short and intense, with a LOT to accomplish in a VERY short time." Of course, one could go through the motions of replicating a program (block by block) via some .JPG image, and then creating a My Block out of it, but the time needed for that kind of "busy work" could be used for other things. Some states had their FLL Regional Qualifier in early November, and they have school homework, sports, and other activities to attend to....

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      • #33
        Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

        You set your own workload. If there is too much to do it is because you have decided to do too much. FLL had the same schedule before widespread Internet access, before hundreds of tutorials and thousands of videos and yet those teams built robots and delivered presentations at tournaments held in early November. Now that the MINDSTORMS robot kit comes with instructions for a serviceable robot, and tutorials for how to use all the programming blocks I really see no need for additional resources. Sure they may help you be more efficient and productive, but what is the point of that? My team's accomplishments are not how I measure success.

        Arguing in support of copying software to save time and avoid "busy work". Wow! I've heard it all now.
        Last edited by Dean Hystad; 12-19-2015, 04:49 PM.

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        • #34
          Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

          Well, Dean, if you "see no need for additional resources", then don't use them. You're in the minority. Have you looked at EV3Lessons.com's statistics on their home page? They have attracted 25,000 users in 124 countries speaking 8 languages. That means (perhaps) 25,000 more Scientists, Technologists, Engineers, and Mathematicians to solve the problems in this world. FIRST = "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." EV3Lessons.com (and other internet resources) have done that well.

          Comment


          • #35
            Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

            Originally posted by dluders View Post
            The downloadable EV3Lessons.com My Blocks saves time -- time that could be used to solve other problems. CCVH noted that "The FLL season is very short and intense, with a LOT to accomplish in a VERY short time."
            I didn't realize that FLL ethics were so situational, and that it is OK to flaunt the accepted code of conduct if your season is short. You do realize that your comments condone breaking the FLL "Coaches' Promise", don't you? Let's review some parts of the "Coaches' Promise" from the 2015 FLL Coaches' Handbook:

            2. The children do the work. Adults may teach my team new skills, handle logistics for the team, ask questions to get team members thinking, and remind them of the FLL rules. Team members are the only ones who decide on strategy, build, program, research, choose a problem and innovative solution, and present at a tournament.

            3. My team is ... comprised of 10 or fewer members and all team members participate on only 1 FLL team per season.
            Are Sanjay Seshan and Arvind Seshan part of your team? I believe they are members of Droids Robotics. If they are not part of your team, why are they doing programming for your team? If you download and directly use the MyBlocks they wrote, I think they are doing programming for your team.

            Originally posted by dluders View Post
            Of course, one could go through the motions of replicating a program (block by block) via some .JPG image, and then creating a My Block out of it, but the time needed for that kind of "busy work" could be used for other things. Some states had their FLL Regional Qualifier in early November, and they have school homework, sports, and other activities to attend to....
            I'm flabbergasted at that statement. Of course the time spent on FLL could be used for other things, and of course the kids in FLL are often busy with other activities. But that doesn't justify having someone not on your team program your robot. There is no requirement in FLL for teams to do line-following or use a gyro for turns or having a menu system for controlling programs. In fact, there are no requirements for FLL teams to accomplish any programming task at all. The kids are just supposed to learn and accomplish what is reasonable for them in the time they have.

            I see downloading and using other peoples MyBlocks in FLL as a very misguided activity. It sets the tone that it is not important to learn how to program or to actually do the boring work that is necessary to accomplish a task. It makes the statement that what is important is that my team manages to build a robot that can rack up a lot of points at the tournament, and have more sophisticated programs than the competing teams, even if the team members didn't do the work.
            Last edited by timdavid; 12-20-2015, 01:18 AM.

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            • #36
              Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

              @ timdavid: Seriously? You've got a lot of nerve to lecture me about using freely-available resources. EV3Lesson.com doesn't tell people how to complete the FLL missions. Didn't you read sseshan's recent post? Cash-strapped and time-strapped teams sponsored by public schools don't have the resources to learn things the old-fashioned way. Kids nowadays learn via the Internet, not by ordering some book and waiting 2 weeks for it to arrive. By your logic, I suppose that using the tips in Dean Hystad's own book ( http://www.amazon.com/Mindstorms-Rob...%3ADean+Hystad ) are off-limits. Heck, let's forget about allowing kids to use the tips in these MINDSTORMS books too -- https://www.nostarch.com/catalog/legomindstorms . How ridiculous is that? Get real.

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              • #37
                Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

                @ timdavid: Did it occur to you that the Programming hyperlinks provided in FIRST's official "Robot Game Resources" ( http://www.firstinspires.org/node/5011 ) make it officially "OK" to use programming developed by others?
                I don't take kindly to people accusing me of breaking the FLL "Coaches' Promise." You don't know anything about me, the FLL team that I sponsor and Mentor, what our kids' programs look like, how our team is coached, etc. So much for "Gracious Professionalism" on your part....

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                • #38
                  Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

                  Originally posted by dluders View Post
                  @ timdavid: Seriously? You've got a lot of nerve to lecture me about using freely-available resources. EV3Lesson.com doesn't tell people how to complete the FLL missions. Didn't you read sseshan's recent post? Cash-strapped and time-strapped teams sponsored by public schools don't have the resources to learn things the old-fashioned way. Kids nowadays learn via the Internet, not by ordering some book and waiting 2 weeks for it to arrive. By your logic, I suppose that using the tips in Dean Hystad's own book ( http://www.amazon.com/Mindstorms-Rob...%3ADean+Hystad ) are off-limits. Heck, let's forget about allowing kids to use the tips in these MINDSTORMS books too -- https://www.nostarch.com/catalog/legomindstorms . How ridiculous is that? Get real.
                  There is a big difference between downloading a PDF that shows how to build something using LEGO and downloading the source code for a MyBlock.

                  If a child downloads a PDF showing how to build something, the child still must do physical work to build the component. They must find the parts, and they must put them together. They learn something about how the pieces go together, and actually learn some building skills.

                  If a child downloads the source for a MyBlock, they are missing the experience of actually using the Mindstorms software to create that MyBlock. I think there is value in having the kids perform the "busy work" of actually using the software to create a MyBlock. That "busy work" is part of learning how to program.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

                    The kids and I have discussed this topic and read all the posts here.

                    Here are their conclusions:

                    1) They never intended the EV3 code files to be time savers for any team. They were supposed to be more like test samples. They were very disappointed to read that the code files were considered time savers and shortcuts. They themselves spend many, many hours a week on FLL and EV3Lessons and they know and respect the hours it takes. The hours a team puts in is up to them, and the results should reflect that time and effort.

                    2) They *do* intend EV3Lessons.com to be a useful, high-quality resource for any EV3 users. They disagree that no resource beyond the built-in tools in the help menu in the EV3 software is necessary. EV3Lessons is a useful resource, and provides teams not just lessons, but the guidance they need. The kids also mentor other teams (sometimes teams who have been in FLL longer than they have). There is a need for both good resources and good guidance in the EV3 and FLL communities.

                    3) Since the intent of providing code was NOT to have teams copy code blindly, the kids made a decision today to remove the .ev3 files. The goal is to have teams work through the powerpoint lessons and use the pseudocode first. The powerpoint has a solution slide in them if needed. Therefore, the kids have adopted @timdavid’s recommendation to provide the lessons/resources without code to download. They hope that this will make more kids actually read the lesson itself and follow the steps, if their plan was to skip all that!

                    The goal of EV3Lessons is to educate and increase interest in programming and robotics, *not* provide shortcuts.

                    The kids are always willing to listen and improve. They know that they have a responsibility to set a good example. They will continue to do that for our community. Thank you for all your feedback.
                    Last edited by sseshan; 12-19-2015, 07:01 PM. Reason: Formatting
                    Coach for Not the Droids You Are Looking For (Droids Robotics) since 2011
                    Judge at Western PA, World Festival, Razorback Open
                    Head Referee, Western PA Championships

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                    • #40
                      Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

                      Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post
                      You set your own workload. If there is too much to do it is because you have decided to do too much. FLL had the same schedule before widespread Internet access, before hundreds of tutorials and thousands of videos and yet those teams built robots and delivered presentations at tournaments held in early November. Now that the MINDSTORMS robot kit comes with instructions for a serviceable robot, and tutorials for how to use all the programming blocks I really see no need for additional resources. Sure they may help you be more efficient and productive, but what is the point of that? My team's accomplishments are not how I measure success.

                      Arguing in support of copying software to save time and avoid "busy work". Wow! I've heard it all now.
                      First Dean, I respect you for your help and mentorship on everything you have helped the Minions and I over the last two years.

                      My pondering question is... do you start your teams out from scratch each year (with no knowledge or visibility of previous and ALL new folks)? Or do your teams have inherent knowledge from the previous years of success and mentorship you have provided them.

                      I work for an Engineering Laboratory and I want the Mechanical Engineers, Hardware Engineers, Software/Firmware Engineers try to reuse/borrow work as much as possible. However, once they do borrow something, they Identify, Measure, Improve upon what was learned previously.

                      I love watching the Minions search the internet for 10 to 15 line following/color calibrating/line squaring/passive or active attachments and narrow those solutions down to 2 or 3. Then they modify them further to make them their own. If they didnt do this, it would take them years to be competitive. Granted this sport is NOT about being competitive, but that element (that addiction) is what keeps them coming back to try more and more. Even Dean mentioned that he created this to be a sports competition because he knew that that was attracted the younger audience.

                      I feel that doing the above helps continually evolve FLL FTC and FRC. The new teams do not need to reinvent the round wheel... Within a reasonable amount of time, they can catch the teams/clubs/programs that have been doing it for years.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

                        Originally posted by dluders View Post
                        Well, Dean, if you "see no need for additional resources", then don't use them. You're in the minority. Have you looked at EV3Lessons.com's statistics on their home page? They have attracted 25,000 users in 124 countries speaking 8 languages. That means (perhaps) 25,000 more Scientists, Technologists, Engineers, and Mathematicians to solve the problems in this world. FIRST = "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." EV3Lessons.com (and other internet resources) have done that well.
                        25,000 users is in the neighborhood of 1/10th of the number of students on FLL teams (233,000+ according to FIRST). I'm sure some of those 25K aren't involved in FLL, and some others aren't FLL students (at least one, for sure; that's me). I don't see how that puts Dean in the minority. But in any case, that number (whether it's 25K or 25M or whatever) is irrelevant; I'll go to the parent's standby "just because your friends are jumping off bridges...."

                        Code reuse is certainly necessary, and no modern programmer writes all of their own code. Having said that, I certainly hope that modern intro to programming courses don't consist of nothing but searching the Internet for pre-built modules & gluing them together. To learn to code requires coding, and even though the lesson has been programmed before there's great usefulness in the student learning to write the code. Even back in the dark ages when I was learning to program there was a lot of code around to reuse; it was just harder to find. But we didn't learn to search for the code; we learned how to write it. And like most skills, the only way to learn to program well is to practice. You have to write code to know how to write code. And if you don't, borrowing other peoples' code is at best a short-term solution; in the long run you end up with people with inferior coding skills because they don't understand what's underneath that shiny download and can't make it work when things go wrong.

                        I'll make no statement about the rightness or wrongness of any other coaches decisions on this (as long as they're not doing the coding; that's Not Good); I learned a long time ago that different teams require different coaching activities and I'm not coaching anyone's teams but mine. But I can submit how I handle this; it's what works for my sense of "kids on the team do the work". I don't forbid my students from using code they found somewhere, but 1) they're not allowed to use it unless they can explain how & why the code works to me, and 2) there's no direct downloading. The second requirement isn't, in my opinion, "busy work" at all; even entering the code can be educational. The practical result of the first requirement is that they experiment with the code in order to learn it, and in that experimentation it becomes theirs.

                        I've had mixed feelings about ev3lessons; it's a great resource but it could be very easy to allow it to become a crutch like "robot in 3 days" FRC builds (don't let me get started). But I love how ev3lessons is generated, and I'm liking it even more after hearing of the kids' decision to pull the downloadable code files. I'm sure that was a hard decision, and I respect them for making it. I've used some of the modules to show my students some techniques, but they've had to go write their own code after learning the concepts.

                        I've not shown my students any programming web sites, nor will I ever. We have a number of books I've collected over the years on the shelf in the robotics room; they get glanced at but no one ever really does any in-depth reading of them. So far all of my teams have been happy to have me teach them the basics & answer questions; I've had maybe 5 students in 6 years that showed any interest in finding code on the Net. We've had teams qualify for our regional championship 5 out of 6 years, so they've been doing OK. Bottom line: my very limited sample set shows no real need to reduce the amount of time a team takes developing robots & code.
                        Kansas City Region coaches and teams can ask FLL robot game rules questions at kcfllref@gmail.com

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

                          Originally posted by timisw View Post
                          First Dean, I respect you for your help and mentorship on everything you have helped the Minions and I over the last two years.

                          My pondering question is... do you start your teams out from scratch each year (with no knowledge or visibility of previous and ALL new folks)? Or do your teams have inherent knowledge from the previous years of success and mentorship you have provided them.

                          I work for an Engineering Laboratory and I want the Mechanical Engineers, Hardware Engineers, Software/Firmware Engineers try to reuse/borrow work as much as possible. However, once they do borrow something, they Identify, Measure, Improve upon what was learned previously.

                          I love watching the Minions search the internet for 10 to 15 line following/color calibrating/line squaring/passive or active attachments and narrow those solutions down to 2 or 3. Then they modify them further to make them their own. If they didnt do this, it would take them years to be competitive. Granted this sport is NOT about being competitive, but that element (that addiction) is what keeps them coming back to try more and more. Even Dean mentioned that he created this to be a sports competition because he knew that that was attracted the younger audience.

                          I feel that doing the above helps continually evolve FLL FTC and FRC. The new teams do not need to reinvent the round wheel... Within a reasonable amount of time, they can catch the teams/clubs/programs that have been doing it for years.
                          I've only coached 6 teams. My girls for four years, the lads for two, and the other four teams for only one year. I've mentored somewhere around 50 teams. Most of those are only for a few meetings, but some for longer, and a couple for the entire season. Nearly all of those teams are rookie teams. All of them are teams where the coach felt the team was in trouble. In almost every case the team was doing fine and the problem had more to do with the team's or the coach's expectations.

                          I don't see any benefit in evolving FLL. Having teams be better at FLL accomplishes what exactly? The goal isn't to build better robots, the goal is to get kids interested in STEM. I can do that with a crummy robot and rudimentary programming. I firmly believe that it is easier to do with a crummy robot and rudimentary programming. Having a simpler problem makes it easier for each kid to understand the problem and make a contribution. Sheltering my team from all these resources makes it easier for my team to make discoveries on their own. So what if it is something that thousands of teams have already discovered, I don't care that we advance the science of line following, I only want to see the light bulbs go on, that big grin that flashes on their face when they solve a problem. I don't want to evolve FLL. I want to evolve kids.

                          I hate to see 'Droids get caught up in this discussion. What they are doing is very cool. I think it is slightly misguided, but that is my opinion. I present my opinions here not to make the 'Droids feel guilty, or to make dluder look a fool. What I want is for rookie coaches out there to see there is an alternative to having to do everything. Your team does not have to build a fantastic robot to be successful. Your team does not have to be efficient to be successful. Come to one of my meetings and the level of chaos will shock you. FLL can be messy and unpredictable and still be completely successful. My experience says that FLL is best when it is messy. If you make FLL structured it is no different from school, and school does a crummy job at getting kids interested in STEM.
                          Last edited by Dean Hystad; 12-19-2015, 11:05 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

                            Originally posted by sseshan View Post
                            ...
                            3) Since the intent of providing code was NOT to have teams copy code blindly, the kids made a decision today to remove the .ev3 files. The goal is to have teams work through the powerpoint lessons and use the pseudocode first. The powerpoint has a solution slide in them if needed. Therefore, the kids have adopted @timdavid’s recommendation to provide the lessons/resources without code to download. They hope that this will make more kids actually read the lesson itself and follow the steps, if their plan was to skip all that!

                            The goal of EV3Lessons is to educate and increase interest in programming and robotics, *not* provide shortcuts.

                            The kids are always willing to listen and improve. They know that they have a responsibility to set a good example. They will continue to do that for our community. Thank you for all your feedback.
                            @sseshan
                            Thank you and the Droids Robotics for responding. I'm sure it was not an easy decision, and I appreciate your listening, reflecting, and acting thoughtfully.
                            Tim

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

                              Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post
                              I don't see any benefit in evolving FLL. Having teams be better at FLL accomplishes what exactly? The goal isn't to build better robots, the goal is to get kids interested in STEM.
                              @ Mr. Hystad: If that is truly what you believe, then why did you write the detailed 91-page-long "Building LEGO Robots For FIRST LEGO League" document ( http://neuron.eng.wayne.edu/LEGO_ROB...g_tutorial.pdf ) that's easily found on the internet? I personally think that it's excellent material, but don't you think it's a bit hypocritical of you to be making people "feel guilty" for finding and using similar (but more modern) material on the internet? What would you say to a coach of a poor team that bought a used RCX for $40, and wanted to utilize your FLL robot-building tips? Would you make them feel like they're violating the FLL "Coaches' Promise"?

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Re: Dog gears for modular attachments

                                I wrote BLRFLL because my local affiliate asked me. I was teaching building and programming classes for coaches and had a bunch of material that I used for the class. I was asked to assemble my notes into a document that would be placed on our website. I wrote a document I expected to be used by coaches. I think I was partially successful because none of my kids have ever read it through even though a few stumbled across it. They found it too long and too dry to read more than a few pages.

                                When writing BLRFLL I tried to avoid including anything that could be directly applicable to solving the robot game. I don't think I was completely successful. When NXT came out I was asked to write an updated version. I was even selected to be part of the MDP program so I could get my hands on early hardware and start writing. I don't know how many times I started, but each attempt was either so vague it was useless, or had the feel of a how to do FLL cookbook. None were released. Eventually they stopped asking.

                                Writing BLRFLL makes me both a hypocrite and uniquely qualified. For a few years BLRFLL was the most widely used FLL reference in the world and has been translated to 6 languages that I know of. I understand the motivation to make this kind of information available. I've seen the struggling teams and I've heard the gratitude from those who benefitted from my creation. It is a heady thing to help others, and helping hundreds, or even thousands is all the better. But I also have to accept some blame for starting this ball rolling. I meet with so many rookie teams who are unhappy with their robot because it isn't nearly as cool as the one from that Dutch team that we saw on you tube. I meet with coaches who are in a panic because their team only has one mission working and they just read that in a practice tournament in Anaheim some team scored 450 points. At judging I see way too many robots that are using exactly the same ideas/design/code, and I notice the teams that borrow heavily from others don't have the same pride and ownership as a rookie team with two missions and a robot that is ready to fall apart. My view of FLL has changed a lot since I wrote BLRFLL. I no longer think it was a good idea.
                                Last edited by Dean Hystad; 12-20-2015, 09:55 AM.

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