Re: schools competitions
Duncan I couldn't agree more
I think that all that would be required for a test maze is a plank of wood
on a black floor! Wall following mice don't need the precision of the
mazesolving mouse maze. All the 2d competitions could be converted to the 3d
maze and most of the competitors could probably be converted with out much
difficulty. we could run a race all the way around the outside lane of the
maze! this would bring the competitions together and perhaps encourage some
of the competitors to progress to full wall following or maze solving.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Duncan Louttit" <email@example.com>
Sent: Sunday, February 04, 2001 11:59 AM
Subject: schools competitions
> Hi Everyone,
> Glad to hear that there will be a schools competition this year after all.
> If it open to under 18s I might be able to persuade Creag and Steve to
> along. There is a possibility that I can find a couple of other youngsters
> who want to give it a go under the "Cock Lane Academy" banner!
> I have given some thought to the nature of the competitions and I am
> coming to the conclusion that the 3D competition is actually more relevant
> to learning to be an engineer than the 2D version.
> For years the 3D competitions have promoted themselves as real, complex
> engineering for the clever. The main reason for this is that most people
> have no idea how to devise an algorithm for solving the maze. Consequently
> many potential competitors are put off. However, if wall-following mazes
> are used, it is easy for anyone to understand how the maze can be solved.
> This removes the most difficult conceptual problem with the competition.
> In my experience, the best way to teach children is to start with things
> that they can understand and build up to the desired result in small
> each of which is useful and makes sense. Most children can understand
> simple mechanisms "by inspection". Heinz Wolf said that the way to get
> children technologically competent was not with a computer but with a
> engine for this very reason.
> The 3 D wall follower competition allows mice to be made using purely
> mechanical systems (e.g DIM) or very simple electromechanical systems
> Drive by Wire). With the 2D competition it is necessary to have optical
> sensors and these (especially if they use infra-red) are "magic". You
> cannot easily explain what goes on in the sensor to a typical 12 year-old.
> With a wall-follower, you can start with an electro-mechanical mouse. When
> this runs you can think about adding intelligence to improve it. The
> student has an incentive to learn the necessary technology and a good
> understanding of the nature of the problem that they want to solve.
> The competition that I understand John Billingsley promotes for students
> addresses this issue by having raised edges that can be detected
> mechanically as well as optically.
> When the 2D competition was conceived, the problem that we addressed was
> the amount of effort needed to make enough of a maze for testing purposes.
> This is the reason for the 2D format.
> So the trade-off is between competitions that need little infra-structure
> like the 2D ones and competitions that give good teaching opportunities
> like the 3D ones. Having got a bit of 3D maze to practice on, I favour
> competition. If I didn't, I would probably favour the 2D one. The critical
> element is the amount of effort needed to make the course plus a mouse.
> This is the "entry cost" that schools have to bear in mind before they
> Enough ramblings from me!
> Duncan Louttit