TETRIX® set comes together for world competition


While robotics competitions like those hosted by FIRST® and SkillsUSA® take center stage in the United States, the World Robot Olympiad™ (WRO) is a competition to pay attention to abroad.

Set up like an international Olympics-style event for robotics, the WRO features challenges for all ages, including the college level. University-level competitors are faced with a bowling game where a programmable robot must pick up a “bowling ball” and roll it down an aisle to knock over pins. However, they have a new option to help prepare them for success: the new TETRIX® WRO Challenge Base Set and Full Set.

The base set provides almost 800 components for building a robot that can meet the WRO’s challenge, including 130 metal structural pieces and enough wheels, gears, motors, hardware, electrical elements, and more fun stuff to build your own unique design.

For those who also need the programmable brain, the full set has everything the base set has plus the National Instruments myRIO controller, LabVIEW™ Student Edition software, and an adapter.

To learn more about the TETRIX WRO sets, videos, how to order, and more, check out Note: The full set is only available to WRO teams.

Spring Celebration


By TAG member Rena Mincks, Jefferson Elementary, Pullman, WA

Earth Day in first grade is a great way to integrate many Common Core Standards. We begin with reading a variety of books: Earth Day by Trudi Strain Trueit; Fancy Nancy: Every Day Is Earth Day by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser; Earth Day – Hooray! by Stuart J. Murphy and Renee Andriani; and The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Núria Roca and Rosa M. Curto.

Students write about how they can do their part to help Earth and make posters to put up around the school to remind others. In the hall, student-made owls are displayed with ideas to make every day Earth Day. Clouds are studied and observed, and their part in the water cycle is taught. In the computer lab, students publish stories that discuss strategies for using less water, riding bikes instead of going places in cars, and wearing sweaters when it is cold rather than turning up the heat.

As a final culminating activity, students are actively engaged in making KaZoon Kites by Pitsco. There is so much math, measuring, geometry, and problem solving. We take the kites outside and fly them on Earth Day to celebrate the new learning and enjoy the day.

March 14: A completely irrational day


March 14 is one of my favorite days. It is one of those days that is lurking in the shadows; most people are completely unaware of the significance of this mathematically important day. March 14 is Pi Day. Pi, that constant number that describes the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Yes, 3.14159265358979 . . . well, because pi is an infinite number, I’ll just stop there.

Or not. Because, well, I just have to make sure you understand how significant March 14, 2015, really is – especially at 9:26 a.m. Significant? Did you get it? The first eight significant digits of pi are 3.1415926 – aha! 3-14-15 9:26! If you are really geeky, you can take it to the second at 9:26:53.

OK, that was really geeky. Sometimes, geeky can be a great way to introduce students to math and geometry concepts. There are some fun things you can do with students of all ages to explore circles, area, circumference, diameter, and radius on Pi Day.

An art teacher once told me it was humanly impossible to draw a perfect circle. I’m sure that’s because he didn’t have a Circle Perfect Compass or a Metric/Decimal Circle Template. I can draw great circles now! A simple compass or template can make circle drawing much easier, and more practical, for some Pi Day fun.

Challenge your students to draw circles of many different sizes. Encourage them to make really, really big circles and really small circles (that are still measurable). If drawing isn’t your forte, simply provide students with circular objects. Then, have them measure and record the diameter and circumference of each circle. A piece of string might help with the circumference measurement. Finally, have students divide the circumference by the diameter of each circle. Sit back and watch as they are amazed to see 3.14 appear for each circle, regardless of the size.

If it happens to be a beautiful spring Pi Day, consider using the outdoors to help get the point across (across as in diameter). Have students predict the circumference of a tree and then use a string to actually measure it. I bet the predictions are smaller than reality. Finally, have students calculate the diameter of the tree using the pi formula.

If you want more ideas, simply do an Internet search for “pi day.” I guarantee there will be more than 3.141592653 hits. The Pi Day website is especially fun and includes a page of activities submitted by teachers and students. The site also includes videos that celebrate my favorite irrational number.

Personally, I think we should eat pie on Pi Day. Even though the formula for area tells us pi are square (A = πr²), we all know pies are round – and tasty! Happy Pi Day!

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