I spent today at the Gathering of the Nerds, more commonly known as the Computer Science Teachers' Academy. While we were there, we built these:
This is a Mindstorm Lego Robot. We built it, complete with light sensors, touch sensors, swivel arms, sound systems, and all sorts of other things. These things are amazing! Once you build the robot (which has several small motors, by the way), you program it with your computer. It has Bluetooth technology. You can make it rotate, respond to stimuli, and do all sorts of tricks with it. The programming doesn't require any computer language skills-it is all graphic with drag and drop "pieces". It's wonderful as an introduction to actual programming because the commands, tasks, and order of operation are worked out on a graphic picture board. Go to the Lego website if you need more info. As for me? You betcha I'm gonna be begging my school to buy some! If you're a homeschooler, spend the money on this technology. It's worth it.
There are actual competitions for these modules. Here's a picture of the latest competition board:
Students program their robots to perform a series of specific tasks, such as knocking down flags, placing an item in a certain spot, climbing ramps, etc. within a certain time frame.
There were nerds everywhere. Here's some of them:
And me? Yes, I'm a nerd. And I brought another nerd with me. Here he is:
And I'm the smarter nerd, because I made him do all the work while I played with the camera. You can see how hard he's working in this shot: