In this “proof of concept” video, we attempt to teach Fusion to go around a hippodrome without failure.
Trying to teach your robot to go around a Hippodrome, or Coliseum, was always an exciting thing for some of our younger classes. Even the first attempts, although sometimes somewhat shaky, were always exciting to the classes. For example see these Grade 5 classes encourage their robots as they attempt to go one lap around their arenas.
This is one of the few robot-to-robot competitions we used. We always tried to make the main emphasize the fun, rather than who was the winner.
We went through several variations of the hippodrome. A typical early version is shown here.
The main problem was these versions were difficult to fit in a car to transport between schools. A secondary problem was that some of these variants were too heavy for primary school students to help by carrying them in from the car to the school.
Around 2008 we devised the maze system which you can see used in the video at the start of this page. With the exception of the yellow-tipped maze element, all the other maze elements are individual, stack-able, easily carried in the car between schools, and light enough for primary school students to be able get a sense of achievement by helping to carry them from the car to the school. Once in the school, the individual pieces can easily be arranged into a maze. For example, here is a video which shows how the Coliseum, or Hippodrome, is put together:
The other nice thing about this system is that these individual elements can be easily rearranged so that the maze is not the same each time the students try to teach their robots to go around it. This webpage shows how a selection of maze elements can be rearranged in a whole variety of different maze shapes.
The individual stack-able maze elements are sturdy. The ones in the video at the start of this page are about nine years old, Even though they have been used in many schools, and are showing their age, they still provide a good challenge.
The individual maze elements are also quite easily constructed by an amateur. In 2011, when Yaya Lu did not have enough maze elements to make the type of maze she wanted, she made some more herself. She was in grade 7 at the time. You can see a video of her constructing one of these at the top of web page (click on the web cam images to see the videos):
These maze elements are well worth thinking about. Lots of educational fun for your students!