Educational Robots for
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Frequently Asked Questions
I really am an absolute beginner -
I've never programmed before and I've
never done anything with robots - is
this course really suitable for me?
- This course is designed for people who have absolutely no
experience with programming or robotics, though you do
need to have some computer experience. If you are comfortable
using your computer to do
things like create documents,
surf the web, send emails, etc. and you have a
basic understanding of how to find files and folders on your PC
using "my computer" or on your Mac using "finder" you should be fine.
How do I sign up?
How does the course work?
- This is a five week course. Each week we will add roughly 10
short lessons to our course web site. Most lessons take the form
of a 5-10 minute video plus some self-test questions for you to
track your own progress. In addition, we give you five suggested
"robot projects" to work on during the final 3 weeks of the
When does the course
How much time
will it take each week?
- We estimate that week one (which has no
robot activities) will take you an hour or two. We estimate that it will take most beginners 4-6 hours each
week to watch the videos and do the activities for weeks two through five.
if I don't have time to finish a given week of the course as
- We encourage you to stick with our schedule - that way the
discussions in the web forums will be more useful to you.
However, if you're too busy to do so, you are welcome to take
the course at your own pace.
Can I start this
- We have no plans to close the course after registration -
while we can not promise you that the course material will be up
indefinitely, we anticipate that you will be able to sign up and
begin the course later if you wish.
Is this course really
I'm not a
teacher, can I still take this course for free?
- Yes. While this course is designed with teachers in mind, it
is free and open to anyone who is interested.
Why do I
need to have a Google account to take the course?
- Our course was built using the Google Course-Builder
tool. In order to register for the course, you need to have a
How do I get a
Do I need
to have a LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot to take this course?
- There's no requirement that you have a robot. Week one of the
course is a general introduction to the field of educational
robotics in general and the LEGO NXT robot in particular and
doesn't require a robot at all. After week one you will need a
robot, together with the NXT-G software to complete all the
I don't have a LEGO
Mindstorms NXT robot and software. Where can I get one?
- Before buying a new NXT robot, you should be aware that LEGO
has just come out with new robot hardware called the EV3. This
course uses the NXT hardware and not EV3 for reasons
- There are two ways to buy the NXT robot and software. The
course is based on the educational kit, but the commercial kit
is very similar
- As of November 2013, the
the software is available as a free download. This is
very close to the educational software that we use in the
course - there only a couple of lessons ("robot educator" and
"data logging") that you won't be able to do. This software
works with both the educational and commercial kits.
- The educational kit comes from LEGO education. You
need to buy the base
set plus the software
- note that you may wish to buy the site license for the
software rather than just a single license.
- The commercial
from regular LEGO and also at many online and shopfront
- Now that the EV3 is out, there are likely to be some used
NXTs available for sale.
know of any resources for getting grants to fund the purchase of
- Finding funding for robots can be a challenge. The one
resource I know of specifically for this question is the LEGO Education
Grants web site.
I have a
LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robot - can I use that for this course?
- If you have an EV3 robot and the EV3 software, you will find
many similarities between programming the EV3 and programming
the NXT. You're welcome to take our course, but if you're an
absolute beginner, you may find the differences significant
enough that it will be more confusing than helpful.
I have a
LEGO Mindstorms RCX robot - can I use that for this course?
- If you have an RCX robot and the RCX software, you will find
some similarities between programming the RCX and programming
the NXT. You're welcome to take our course, but if you're an
absolute beginner, you may the differences significant enough
that it will be more confusing than helpful
you pick the LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot and not a different robot?
- There are many excellent robots available for educational use
and we are not trying to suggest that the LEGO NXT is the best
for all applications. We picked the NXT robot for several
- They offer an easy-to-learn visual programming language
- Many schools already own them
- We are big fans of (and involved in) FIRST LEGO League
which is a great way to get 9-14 year olds in robot
programming. FIRST LEGO League requires that teams use of one
of the LEGO Mindstorms robots.
- We decided to go with the NXT (and not the EV3 that was just
introduced) primarily because more people currently have access
to the NXT. If this course is popular, we'll consider doing a
new version of it for the EV3 later.
teacher. Is there a way for me to get professional development
credit for this course?
- While we do offer a certificate of completion, we are not
currently able to offer professional development credits at this
time. The certificate of completion requires that a colleague
review your completed robot projects and is signed by your
school principal. You may wish to speak with your school
district to see if they'd be willing to grant you professional
development credits for this class.
teacher, can I get a certificate of completion for this course?
- Yes! To be eligible to receive a certificate of completion,
you need to complete all 5 robot projects successfully and have
them reviewed by a colleague that your principal designates. The
certificate of completion has a line on it for your principal's
signature, to certify that you successfully completed all the
projects. We ask everyone, but particularly those who apply for
a certificate of completion, to give us some feedback
about the course so that we can make it better for you and
I'm not a teacher, can
I get a certificate of completion for this course?
- Yes, though it may not be as meaningful if you're not a
teacher. Because we do not have a way to check your robot
projects ourselves, we only offer the "teacher style"
certificate which has a space for a principal's signature.
I'm a project
reviewer, where can I find the rubrics for project evaluation?
- The rubrics will not be posted until the projects are made
public. Once the projects are made public, the rubrics will be
available at: http://www.rowan.edu/robots/cs4hs
I'm a school
principal and have been asked to certify a certificate of
completion. What does this mean?
- Due to the massive size of this course (we anticipate having
hundreds of teachers will participate), we are unable to
evaluate the projects ourselves. We ask that you, or your
designee (we suggest this be another administrator, supervisor,
or teacher), review each of the five robot projects using the
rubrics we provide. The rubrics will not be posted until the
projects are made public. Once the projects are made public, the
rubrics will be available at: http://www.rowan.edu/robots/cs4hs