Saturday, March 19, 2016

Introducing Ferris, a WINK robot from Plumgeek

"Ferris" a Wink robot from PlumGeek Software
Meet Ferris.  Ferris is actually the Wink robot from PlumGeek Software.  The Wink robot has been designed to introduce programming to people who are interested as an entry point to learn how to write code and for experienced coders alike.  Using the Arduino IDE open source platform, code can be written to activate a host of exciting features that are built into the robot. These features include blinking RGB lights, actuators for movement, proximity sensors for obstacle detection, light sensors for following light and line detection and for some Winks, a IR remote to control those behaviors.

I named my robot Ferris, because I had some challenges getting him to school each day.  The challenge of setting up reminded me that sometimes Ferris just needed a day off.  Now that I've broken him in, he's been pretty dependable and can do some exciting things.

The first hurdle has been introducing the Arduino programming to High School students who've never written code in the Arduino environment.  PlumGeek has helped bridge the gap by providing a series of usable lesson plans and pre-loaded behaviors available for download on their website.

Fortunately, I've been working with a couple of classes at the Center for Technology in Essex.  The Computer Systems technology class and PreTech classes have been able to play with Ferris.  We've started doing basic coding, like learning how the lights operate, adjusting Ferris eyes to blink, change colors and emit different light levels.  I'm working with a student at the moment on obstacle detection, which Ferris is really good at.  The light detection sensor is very good, as Ferris seems to have a strong will to find a nice sunny space to relax in (don't we all).  Here's a little of Ferris in action (my dog does not care for Ferris - you might hear her whine).
Will Bohmann
Educational Technology Integration Specialist
Center for Tecnology - Essex

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