Marty the Robot Hits Town
The beauty of Robots in the learning process is that teachers get massive ROI. Firstly, robots need to be programmed, so teachers can address elaborations in the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies like ACTDIP020 and ACTDIP030. Secondly, the use of robots brings in hardware which adds another element of learning. Students must understand the capabilities of the robot, as well as its limitations. If the student has to construct the robot from a flat pack, even better! Also, the student must solve problems with the code and the robot, ensuring that digital and robotics solutions are created. Throw some context around the task and you have a great unit of work.
But hey, don’t take my word for it – check out what my Year 8 student wunderkind Kaveendra says after I asked him to build and programme Marty during a 2 week holiday.
‘The assembly process for Marty was quite easy and this is pivotal as it is intended for younger children to code. I enjoyed assembling Marty as everything I needed to build him was supplied, included a screw driver. The only downside to the assembly was that the Marty was missing a part and so we 3d-printed the missing part. This was a simple process and a lot of fun because the files for all the parts are freely available!
Programming the Robot with scratch was very easy as the commands were supplied in categories and required a simple 'drag and drop' placement. Using scratch made Marty perform a long routine which didn't require controls."
Using Python on Marty was quite a step up from Scratch and I struggled to 'pip install the martypy package into python'. After running it in the cmd terminal and importing the package into python I tried to connect it to my Marty. At first, I would get the error saying that my Marty actively refused the connection. Then after using a different network connection Marty connected to python and I ran the command in a shell to make him wink and walk.
Overall, Marty was very fun to construct and code and quite easy to assemble. The only challenging aspects of assembly were the wiring and cable management. For kids my age, it is a challenge but totally achievable. Building and coding Marty with a friend would be heaps of fun at school.’
So there you have it; a fun, challenging and versatile kit that can be programmed by visual programming of text-based programming. Marty is well support by a beautiful website (https://robotical.io/), tutorials and guides, 3D files to print replacement parts and a getting started guide.
Marty is a really awesome learning tool. It has the coding element which caters for multiple age groups, and the construction of the robot adds an engineering focus. The website is full of great supporting resources including the tutorials, guides and files to print 3D parts. The growing range of expandable options like Raspberry Pi make Marty into a powerful computer and can give him functional eyes to interact with surroundings. Making Marty perform actions like walking, dancing or playing football engages the students immensely, as does the customisation and aesthetics of the cute robot.
Matthew Jorgensen is a resident of the Gold Coast and is Director of eLearning at St Stephen’s College. In 2016 he was the Microsoft Teacher Ambassador for Queensland and QSITE Emerging Leader. He has a Master’s degree in Education and is currently a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and CoSpacesEdu Ambassador. In 2017, he was the first teacher in Australia (and probably the world) to use Roblox Studio to deliver the Digital Technologies curriculum. He has a long history of using game based learning in the classroom, including Kodu, Scratch, CoSpaces, Minecraft and Roblox. Matthew recently sold his robloxedu.com domain name and associated social media accounts to Roblox. You can connect with Matthew via: