Faculty members Chris Odom, Brian Patton, and Academic Technology Integrationist Howard M. Glasser will present at the EDUCon Conference in Philadelphia on January 25 at 3:00 p.m.
“Our conversation will focus on ways that schools can have a thriving, expandable, and real-world robotics program, without having to spend thousands and thousands of dollars,” said Chris. “We use off-the-shelf materials that are affordable, which allows the program to grow and thrive year after year.”
The robotics curriculum at George School, which was developed by Chris and Brian, uses non-proprietary parts, helping to keep costs down. They acknowledge while LEGO or VEX platforms are good, they are very costly and can prohibit schools from growing their robotics program beyond the entry level. Something that both Chris and Brian are passionate about.
In 2003, Chris taught George School’s first robotics program with about six students in class and a curriculum of his own invention. Today, the George School robotics program has more than fifty students and their curriculum is used in high schools and universities across the globe.
“The parts offered by my company, Patton Robotics, LLC, are designed to fit any robot,” said Brian. “For example, some of our parts come from McMaster-Carr, the same company that supplies parts to major companies like Ford. When schools use LEGO or VEX all parts must then come from that company. So, something as simple as adding a LEGO range-finding sensor would cost $3,100 to outfit all our students. However, we can provide every student in our classes with an industry used range-finding sensor for a total cost of $50.”
“You can think of it like Apple,” explained Chris. “If you have an iPhone, only an iPhone charger will work to charge your battery. So, Apple can charge a lot of money because consumers have no choice but to purchase an iPhone charger. That’s how LEGO and VEX work. Our program works with all kinds of parts—affordable parts—so everything can be easily replicated by other institutions.”
EDUcon is both a conversation and a conference for educators. The format allows presenters to talk to attendees in a more informal way and provides hands-on experience. “I’m most looking forward to the hands-on aspect of our presentation,” said Chris. “We are bringing ten of our microcontrollers and robots to show the participants how to program them to do various things. Guests will learn how easy it is to read sensors, grab user data from the keyboard, control a tri-color LED, make a robot move, or program it to think. We hope to show how simple and powerful this technology can be.”
Learn more about George School’s robotics program.