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The LEGO Blue Suitcase Project

By Reina Wang, IV Form

The LEGO Blue Suitcase Project

In late August, I traveled to Pakistan as a part of the robotics Blue Suitcase Project. I brought the suitcase to The Lynx School in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan is a country with a particularly high out-of-school rate for many children, especially girls. The head of school at The Lynx School was especially excited to hear about our project since there are few schools in Pakistan that offer Lego lessons, even among private schools.

During the Lego workshop, I first introduced the school to our robotics team and showed them photos of our new STEM building, the FRC competition we went to, and the robots we built from previous years. They were impressed by what we did and became increasingly interested in STEM. Starting with a basic understanding of all the parts of the Lego suitcase, the children began building the Lego car in small groups. The engineering part is about creativity, and they used their imagination to design the car based on the model given by the instructions. Then we moved on to programming with touch sensors, teaching the students how to go straight, turn, and bounce back once the car hits the wall. After I led them through the techniques, the children were able to create their own paths with a number of obstacles. 

This experience is brand new for the children I met in Pakistan. Lego inspires children with creativity, enhances their logic and problem-solving skills, and cultivates the ability to cooperate, communicate, and lead. The Lynx school is hoping to spread Lego robotics to many other schools in Islamabad, and they hope we can bring more advanced Lego systems back next year.

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Dreaming Big: Robotics and Circuits Class

By Chris Roche, STEM Faculty

The Circuit Engineering Stair Master

The students in my spring “Robotics and Circuits Engineering with Physical Computing” class did it. They pulled it off!! We now have the “Stair Master” currently installed and running in the stairwell off the first floor of the St. Mark’s STEM building. Students and faculty like the installation, and we are looking forward to a phase two expansion that has music!

The “Stair Master” is an installation that allows a flight of stairs to be interactive with the people walking on them. Here are videos showing the Stair Master in action:
Video 1: Click Here
Video 2: Click Here
Video 3: Click Here

When you step on one of the steps in the “Stair Master”, LED light strips light on the stair you are on. The system uses sensors to know which stair you are on, triggering the appropriate lights. There are versions of interactive stairs already existing, such as the musical staircase at the Museum of Science in Boston. However, the “Stair Master” at St. Mark’s was designed and prototyped exclusively by the “Robots and Circuits” class, using class-built knowhow and our prototyping process. (more…)

Competing in the FIRST Robotics Challenge

By Kate Sotir, VI Form

Competing in the FIRST Robotics Challenge

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Working in the basement level of the STEM building, using lots of power tools, and occasionally throwing out words like “kickoff,” “drivetrain,” or “STEAMworks,” we are FIRST team 3566, also known as Gone Fishin’.

Gone Fishin’ competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” The robotics competition, open to any high school student, was created in order to promote the STEM fields and offer a competitive yet collaborative atmosphere for robotics. In the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), teams are given a challenge, in the form of a game, and then have six weeks to build a 120 pound, $10,000 robot to meet this challenge. After those six weeks are up, teams compete in various regional events. The ultimate goal is to go to the world championship, held in St. Louis, where around 800 teams gather to play the game. (more…)

Robotics and Collaboration: A Symbiotic Relationship

By Seung Jae (Ryan) Lee, V Form

Fish4At our Gray Colloquium Day on March 27th, we were fortunate to have Don Bossi, president of FIRST Robotics, as our morning keynote speaker. FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, seeks to inspire young students to take an interest in robotics and encourages collaboration and cooperation. St. Mark’s has developed an intricate and intimate relationship with FIRST over the last four years. Thanks to the generous support from the school, the St. Mark’s Robotics Team with the team name Gone Fishin’ and a team number 3566 has finished its fourth season. Every year, the robotics team competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition (more…)

Gone Fishin’…It’s Not What You Think

By Melissa Kok, VI Form

The stadium rumbles with the cheers of FIRST teams, mentors, and parents. If you were thinking stereotypically, you would not expect to find this much excitement at a competition “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” (FIRST), but the energy in the stadium is palpable. “Coming all the way from Southborough, Massachusetts, it’s Goooone Fishin’!” the announcer in the cowboy hat bellows over the rising tide of cheers. My teammates and I jump up and add our voices to the chorus of yells reaching the top of America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis. Sitting down reluctantly, we (more…)