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Latest News: Press Release

George School Teacher Offers Interactive Robotics and Technology Sessions

Wednesday, November 22, 2006  
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Issued: November 21, 2006

George School teacher Chris Odom will offer a day of interactive sessions about teaching robotics and technology on Saturday, December 2, 2006, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The event will take place on the George School campus in the physics laboratory of Spruance-Alden Science Center.

"I think robots are a great way to teach science, math, and technology," said Chris, a physics and robotics teacher at George School. Designed for science and technology teachers at middle school through college levels, the event will serve as an opportunity for educators in the local area to learn about George School's robotics curriculum, to share their own insights about teaching similar subject matter, and to make connections that could lead to collaborations with other teachers.

"I can help other teachers to get started teaching robotics," said Chris, who is the author of the robotics textbook BasicX and Robotics: The Art of Making Machines Think, published in 2005 by Robodyssey Systems, LLC. Chris said he also hopes to learn from other teachers' experiences. The event, he explained, is appropriate for both "complete novices who are looking to get started as well as people who have been teaching robotics for fifteen years."

Currently in its fifth year, George School's robotics curriculum includes two course offerings, both taught by Chris—Computer Programming and Robotics (a class that is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors) and an independent study that allows graduates of the class to progress to more advanced work. Formerly a rocket scientist at Clemson University in South Carolina, Chris teaches his Computer Programming and Robotics students to build and program autonomous robots, which can navigate and respond to their surroundings without direction from a remote control or other human involvement. Employing math, science, electronics, and engineering skills, the students program the robots using BasicX, a powerful microcontroller programming language that is used in such fields as robotics, applied science, industrial control, and home automation. Chris's students have entered their robots in various competitions, including the Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. There his students' entry finished eighth in an international field of twenty-four autonomous robots in April 2006.

The event on December 2 will begin at 9:30 a.m. with coffee and introductions. Session I, entitled "The Five-Year Evolution of Teaching Technology at George School," will run from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Chris will give an overview of George School's robotics curriculum and explain how it was developed. Session I will also be an opportunity for attendees to share wisdom gained from their own experience teaching science and technology. "I would love for that to be sort of a give and take," Chris said.

Following lunch, Session II, "A Hands-On Experience with George School's Robots," will run from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. "Participants will have hands-on experience with our robots," Chris said. "They will get a small sampling of the excitement of programming a robot to do what you want it to do. For somebody who is a complete novice, this will perhaps be an eye-opening event." Chris will explain how to create programs in math, science, and robotics using the BasicX language. Current George School robotics students will be present to field questions and help facilitate the session. The day will conclude with a wrap-up and question-and-answer session at 2:30 p.m.

Registration for the event is free. The registration form is located online at http://www.basicxandrobotics.com/workshops/. Lunch will be provided to all participants who register before Tuesday, November 28. The first twenty participants who register will receive a signed copy of Chris's book, BasicX and Robotics: The Art of Making Machines Think.