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Help! My robot is out of control!

Posted by on Nov 3, 2016 in Frontpage-Banners, News | 0 comments

Eventually, we’ll have fully autonomous robots…programming the next generation of robots that will take over the world. But, for now, STEP robots need human control in order to dominate. Here’s another game changing element of STEP. We’re deploying cost-effective controllers which lets the average participant download and start programming at home. Yes, at home. For free. But, there are choices to make. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions… If you are using the VEX micro-controller, the decisions have been made for you. The USB Keys in the Cortex and Joystick facilitate a Wi-Fi link between the two. (They call it their VEXnet). The VEXnet based Joystick is very capable with two sticks, 4 “trigger” buttons, 8 face buttons, and even 2-axis accelerometer. It sells for around $150. Yikes! But, worse than the stiff cost is it’s inherent restriction to the Cortex micro-controller. The...

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STEP Kit and Part Procurement

Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 in Frontpage-Banners, News | 2 comments

So, you’ve seen the game challenge and have finished the conceptual design phase? Now, you need some details about the materials and parts available to build your awesome robot masterpiece. Before explaining the STEP Kit Policies and Procedures, you need to know a few things about real-world engineering. Mimicking Real-World Product Development First of all, one needs to realize that there is no such thing as an engineering challenge with unlimited budget. So, STEP teams will learn to work within one. Each team is allotted an budget for procuring parts from the STEP store. In 2016, this allotment is 750 STEP-bucks for items on the Return Parts list. The allotment is 250 STEP-bucks for items on the Consumable Parts list. When you invest some of your budget in a particular item or strategy, those funds are not available for other items or...

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Getting Started on Your STEP Robot(s)

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in Frontpage-Banners, News | 0 comments

STEP teams have lots of options. And, that means, STEP teams need to establish a way to make decisions as a team. We’ll have more on that later. The focus now is on how to pull a basic STEP robot together. STEP teams have the choice of basing their robot on either an Arduino open-source system or the VEX Cortex commercial system. The Arduino system is inexpensive and prolific. There are a gagillion helps, tutorials, and forums out there to get you past challenges. The VEX Cortex system is ridiculously expensive, but, it is hardened for some amount of rough treatment in robot competition. To make the decision even harder, STEP teams can deploy hybrid systems as well. If an individual wants to get into robotics and pay for things out of their own pocket, it is a no-brainer. Go...

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Best Kickoff EVER!

Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in Frontpage-Banners, News | 0 comments

Nice turnout, people! Way to get the word out coaches! Many of us were really looking forward to ArcAttack helping us kickoff the season. And, they sure did deliver. Dr. Wienen opened up with grateful accolades for faithful program sponsors Capsher, KBSI, and Hydraulic Works. They are a big part of why Brazos Robotics continues to expand programming and impact. He then challenged kids to look more sincerely at Science, Technology, Engineering, and Programming as career options. “We are all natural born scientists…it actually takes a lot of discipline to get kids to abandon their natural tendency to explore.” Regarding engineering, “life will always present new problems, we need creative problem solvers.” Regarding programmers, “if you really want to influence our future, influence what happens during screen time.” There were many young ears in the audience. Who knows what seeds...

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How STEP fits into the Big picture

Posted by on Sep 1, 2016 in Frontpage-Banners, News | 0 comments

STEP is only one of the Brazos Robotics programs. We also have classes, workshops, clubs, summer camps, blogs, and an online journal for student publication. To understand some of the peculiar decisions we’ve made in designing STEP, you need to know how STEP fits into the bigger picture. It’s all part of our STEPpING Stones Vision. Historically, robotics competitions have been designed to target only a part of our student population. It makes sense. After all, whatever technology we choose to build our robots from will have some practical lower age limit. There is no practical way to have a competition between experienced high school students and fledgling elementary students. So, lower age groups are left out of the target “impact zone” until someone comes along and develops hardware, software, and techniques for those age groups. There are certainly some good products out...

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A Giant STEP in New Directions

Posted by on Sep 1, 2016 in Frontpage-Banners, News | 0 comments

Brazos Robotics now hosts STEP Robotics. [Register your team now] Our prior BEST programming was good, but STEP offers amazing new possibilities. Some of the things that distinguish STEP from other competitions: STEP is accessible Private Schools Public Schools Home School Groups Other Education-Focused Groups K-5 inclusion (unique competition venue that gets younger kids involved) Intentional computer programming element Volitional about educational Value (integrated Mobile Education Unit that delivers STEM content) Science (game theme, game play, and hypothesis testing in white papers) Time Frame scaled appropriately for expanded learning objectives (full year opportunities) Evolving design challenge in circuit competition Summer training and bridging programs Shareable resources across dispersed locations Scalable program (flexible venue, cost sharing, relatively low expert volunteer commitment) More information will be populated on on this site quickly. Keen an eye out. Subscribe so you don’t miss a...

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