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The Age of Robots (Read more)

How does a teacher keep students engaged as the days wind down in the school year? Try adding some new flavor to spice up the class.For students in the Introduction to Computer Programming class, that means getting a taste of Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computer, which is approximately the size of a credit card. The device can be used to create home media centers, gaming systems, and to operate robots, using two popular programming languages – Scratch and Python.

“I wanted to make the last quarter of the school year more exciting and fun for the students,” said Nancy Boros, course instructor.  “Sometimes it’s more difficult for students to stay focused as the school year begins to wind down, but I have found the students to be more engaged than ever. It will be interesting to see what they will do with programming their robots.”

Students first experienced Raspberry Pi by making their robots perform tasks through the programs included with the basic software. As students completed those tasks, they were challenged to analyze the program code and then write their own program to have the robot perform a unique task.

“Jordan (Leonard) and I are ahead of the class right now,” said Frank Gambino, a senior from Westchester. “We’re about to finish the book and then use Python to enhance what our robot can currently do.”

Previously, Frank and Jordan used Raspberry Pi to have their robot, whom they’ve named Rover, flip a virtual coin, flash red, green and blue lights in strobe fashion, and apply a range finder to determine both the distance the robot is from an object and to adjust its movement to avoid colliding with the object.