Alumnus leads robotics workshops

Alumnus leads robotics workshops

December 22, 2012 - Ross Higashi '99 led more than two dozen Lower School students through exciting robotics workshops on Saturday.

The second, third, fourth and fifth graders are members of the Junior FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League.

Mr. Higashi attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and currently works in the university’s Robotics Academy. Since the inception of the FIRST LEGO League program in ‘Iolani's Lower School in 2005, Mr. Higashi has annually given some of his Christmas holiday time to share his knowledge of the LEGO Mindstorms robotics system. He has worked with mostly Lower School students, but has also given workshops for Upper Schoolers in more advanced robotics and computer systems.

Saturday’s workshop started with an introduction to the LEGO Mindstorms robotics set and programming basics. After a brief description of the robot components, Mr. Higashi immediately had the students dive into the programming of their robots. The tasks started simply with the robot moving forward and stopping before hitting a box and got progressively more complex with changes in direction and speed. The final task had the students program their robots to navigate through a maze of boxes and containers.

The second session introduced the veteran FIRST LEGO League teams to the concept of program flow. To illustrate the point, the team members stood in a row with each child representing a command in a program. To simulate a running program, Mr. Higashi had the team pass a ball from student to student with each child saying his command as he received the ball. It was an eye opening experience that illustrated the difference between what you think you’ve told a robot to do versus what the program is actually telling it to do.

Everyone at the workshops had a great time thanks to Mr. Higashi’s hands-on teaching style and the interactive sessions. A big MAHALO to Mr. Higashi for donating his time to help train the next generation of robotics experts!

-- Vivian Flores and Taka Kimura


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