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Anova Matters Blog    

Where you'll find the ACE wonders of the world...

Each month, we will travel to an extraordinary corner of Anova's world. We will be highlighting Anova students, parents, staff, and alumnus that represent some of the special people that emulate the true heart and spirit of Anova.

This month, Anova wonders ...


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Can robotic dogs bark and wag their tail?


ACE Contra Costa has a pet robot named 

At ACE Contra Costa, many of our students on the autism spectrum are talented and passionate about computers, mechanics, and engineering concepts. Wanting to utilize their natural interests to help students develop in-demand job skills, Sarah Aguilar (behavioral assistant and Mathematician) developed a new Lego Robotics program that introduces students to engineering, mechanics, computer programming in an enjoyable, kinesthetic, and interactive environment.

Robots are built by hand and animated using Lego motors and connected to PCs where they are then programmed by students. Students also learn about sensors and incorporate different robotic sensors into their robots and write programs utilizing them. Students are naturally engaged and passionate about Legos and the lessons are designed to either reinforce what they are learning in their current classes, or capture their excitement with colorful robots they can recognize. Students also strengthen their fine motor skills, practice following visual written directions, solving problems, and creativity.

RoboticsIn high school, Lego Robotics is offered as an elective course. Students use more advance robotics kits with more sensors and work in teams to build complicated robots that move autonomously using multiple motors. So far our high school students have built an autonomous humanoid robot, a robotic puppy, rovers, Lego spiders, robotic arms, a batting machine, and other robots. Our high school students also invented a Lego Dahlic (Dr. Who reference), complex wing systems, rebuilt Leonardo Da Vinci's flying machine, a line follower robot, a dancing robot, a rock paper scissors game, lego chain ball lifts, ramps, and perpetual motion machines, and other numerous designs. During Thanksgiving students used their programming skills to make their robots play a song in 3 part harmony perfectly synchronized.

Elementary and middle school students study simple machines and mechanism such as; pulleys systems, gears, torque, crank systems, levers, energy transformation, friction, and concepts from physics. Students are also introduced into computer programming basics and problem solving. Despite all this science, there is still plenty of time for social play, creative free building, and design time. Above all else Lego Robotics is fun.

Teamwork is essential in high school and students must develop and utilize social thinking skills to solve problems, communicate with each other, and work together on projects. The majority of our students come to us with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that accompany their autism diagnosis and this project offers students an opportunity to practice teamwork, and understand how social thinking is used in the workforce.    

RoboticsUltimately there are 3 goals to Anova’s Lego robotics program; to utilize our students passions to create valuable in demand job skills, to give our students a safe place to enjoy their natural creativity after long day of hard work, to reinforce concepts and themes from their existing classes. The real goal is to help our students find their niches in life outside of Anova, vial their own passions.

Thank you Sarah for spearheading this fun project, and incorporating this emerging new technology into an exciting way to learn! 

Posted by on Tuesday February, 23, 2016 at 03:38PM


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