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3, 2, 1, LEGO … !

On Saturday 19 November, The Cube played host once again to FIRST® LEGO® League, welcoming 360 students and their team coaches, parents, teachers and peers to QUT’s Science and Engineering Centre. The energy and enthusiasm of the participants was palpable and just one of the reasons FIRST® LEGO® League is a highlight of the year, transforming the Science and Engineering Centre into a hive of activity!

This year’s challenge was based on the theme: ANIMAL ALLIES. Teams of up to 10 students researched, programmed, and prepared from August through November ‘to think of people and animals as allies in the quest to make life better for everyone’. The tournament involved:

  • 360 students 
  • 220 parents, teachers, grandparents, peers, siblings … 
  • 108 (2.5 minute) robot game rounds 
  • 52 staff and volunteers 
  • 41 team coaches
  • 36 teams from 22 locations (see team map below)
  • 36 robots 
  • 12 award recipients
  • 6 robot game tables
  • 4 practice tables
  • 4 concurrent activities (Robot Game, Robot Design, Project, Core Values)
  • 4 national qualifiers 
  • And many LEGO pieces! 

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One of the team coaches, Jackie Child, captured the spirit of the tournament experience in her article, Our FIRST LEGO League Journey.

Twelve awards were presented this year to the following teams:

Champions Award – iCode 22
Robot Performance – OLA Cybermonkeys
Robot Design (Mechanical Design) – Robros
Robot Design (Programming) – RobotIGGS
Robot Design (Strategy and Innovation) – Lego Central
Project (Research) – MGH Robots 2
Project (Innovation) – iCode New Dawn
Project (Presentation) – Sharks
Core Values (Gracious Professionalism) – Lasiorhinus krefftii Mark II
Core Values (Teamwork) – Hillbrook Team 1
Core Values (Inspiration) – Omega Dragons
Judge Award – Padua College 1 

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Those selected for the Nationals at Macquarie University, Sydney, on 10 December, are: 

  • iCode 22
  • iCode New Dawn
  • Padua College 2
  • OLA Cybermonkeys 

Congratulations again to all participating teams – until next year!

Jacina Leong and Elise Wilkinson – Co–Directors, FIRST LEGO League, and Public Programs, The Cube

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The Cube hits Linz for ARS Electronica Festival

Building on The Cube’s ongoing partnership with ARS Electronica, and to celebrate the success of the Soul of the Cube project collaboration, a number of the Cube team were invited to attend this year’s ARS Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. The Cube’s Studio Manager, Sean Druitt, reflects on his awe-inspiring experience at the festival.

Sean: We were very fortunate to be able to attend this year’s ARS Electronica festival. The festival itself is a visual feast sprawled out across the city of Linz, day and night. The main centre to view all of the awesome works was in a building, aptly named “Post City”, which was the decommissioned mail distribution centre in Linz.

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This massive warehouse housed hundreds of exhibits across multiple storeys and celebrated ARS’ partnerships and initiatives, as well as works by invited artists. Works that really stood out to us included:

  • The Mercedes self-driving car
  • A custom-built Ferrari super car, built using bright red gaffer tape and bicycle parts
  • Using robotic vision to read information cards and then display projected animations onto them
  • A programmable robot that you could program dance moves into and then watch the performance

2_Dance robot being given the moves

  • A robot that would scan to see if you ran out of popcorn, and if you had, then it automatically makes you more popcorn!
  • Hitting a dart board to map out a google map journey
  • Holograms!
  • An industrial robotic arm drawing its own art
  • Electric motorbikes

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  • Customisable and designable virtual reality headsets
  • 3D printed micro motors for water propulsion
  • Japan’s 5m tall “Big Robot Mk1” being driven around by people

4_The MK1 Big Robot

  • Controllable portable iPad stands that you could drive during facetime to follow the conversation around the home or office
  • Video games designed specifically for users with a physical disability.
  • Did we already mention the popcorn making robot?!

Argh, so much cool stuff to see!

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We were also lucky enough to receive a private tour behind-the-scenes of the ARS Electronica Center offices, R&D labs, museum and the incredible 8K Deepspace. We also gave a presentation about the Soul of the Cube project to a large group of festival attendees.

It was a great trip that filled us with enthusiasm for future possibilities on The Cube!

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The team’s top tips for a killer pitch

There’s not long left to register to present your idea or project proposal to the Cube team! To give you a leg up on the competition, we’ve stolen a page from the Cube team’s content development bible.

The Cube team’s golden rules:

  1. KISS (keep it simple, stupid!)

If you can’t sell your pitch in 15-30 seconds, your idea is too complicated. The Cube is a busy place where most users engage with the content in passing. Therefore, the simplest ideas will have the most resonance with users and appear most welcoming. The same principle applies with user engagement. The average user interacts with the Cube for only 4 minutes. Because of this, the user must understand the rules of use straight away. Touch interactions should be intuitive and easy to digest. Read more

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The Cube is turning 2!

This Saturday 28 February, The Cube will celebrate its 2nd birthday! To mark the occasion, we want to share some of our favourite Cube memories, looking back over the last two years in pictures…

The development and construction of The Cube is a unique technical feat that took QUT developers more than two years to complete. One of the world’s largest interactive digital display systems, The Cube stands at two storeys high, and houses a whopping 170m2 of high-definition screens including 48 touch panels, which integrate with 14 high-definition projectors to reach a massive 115-megapixel resolution. Construction began in 2010.

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In the lead up to The Cube’s opening, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak came to visit our Cubans! Here’s a pic from Wozniak’s 2012 visit – you can see the progress of Virtual Reef in the background!

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In February 2013, our then Prime Minister Julia Gillard officially opened the SEC, home to The Cube. While here, Gillard tried her hand at some LEGO Education.

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Robotronica in August 2013 was a big moment for our young Cube as it welcomed hundreds of STEM enthusiasts for an epic robotics spectacular featuring hands-on workshops, demonstrations, talks, debates, films, music and performances.

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In just 2 years, The Cube’s public program team has delivered over 315 engagement programs, attracting over 11,320 participants. We hope that The Cube will continue to engage and inspire generations of thinkers and doers to come!

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Exploring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics)

STEAM is a framework for learning and teaching, and one that underlines The Cube’s public engagement programs. The STEAM framework supports self-directed, hands-on learning, exploration and experimentation, connecting to broader ideas around the Maker movement and design thinking. In our increasingly interconnected world, it also provides an opportunity to engage in critical and creative thinking, and to consider different ways of responding to real-world challenges.

Last week, a group of teachers from Kelvin Grove State College visited The Cube to explore STEAM.

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The teachers spent the morning exploring the potentials of littleBits as a tool for learning by responding to the challenge: how might we use littleBits to create an age-friendly city? In a STEAM kind of way, they worked collaboratively with colleagues from different teaching areas (Chemistry, Physics, Arts, Design, English, Maths) to respond to the challenge. This involved getting to know littleBits, identifying the problem, reframing the problem as an opportunity, brainstorming new solutions and prototyping their ideas using littleBits. The challenge was inspired by the World Health Organisation’s ‘Age-friendly Cities Framework’, which identifies some of the common barriers to accessibility of older people.

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(Two weeks prior, a group of Year 8 students from the College’s ‘100 Futures’ program were provided with the same challenge. My brief was to introduce the students to littleBits, to connect their experience to a real-world challenge, and to engage them in future thinking. Throughout the day, the students also engaged in discussions inspired by the ‘Age-friendly Cities Framework’, which prompted them to consider: what is an age-friendly city? Why should cities become more age-friendly? And, how can we make cities more age-friendly?)

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Later in the day, the teachers were introduced to the basics of Arduino by one of our ARS Academy students.

A highlight of the day was hearing from Zach Lieberman, who was in Brisbane to make further progress on his residency project for The Cube. Zach spoke with the group about his practice and experiences crossing boundaries, blurring distinctions between art and technology, and the disservice of dividing disciplines at a tertiary and school level. He spoke about artistic practice as a form of research and development, and way of thinking of possible futures for humanity. As one of the co-founders of openFrameworks, he also spoke about the benefits of the open source movement (think: Arduino, openFrameworks, littleBits) as enabling a culture of collaboration, playing together, experimenting and jamming.

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Interested in learning more about STEAM? In 2015, together with the Queensland Museum, and kuril dhagun, State Library of Queensland, The Cube is hosting a two-day, professional development activity for educators called ‘Creative Lab’.

Creative Lab will enable educators to explore new ways to engage students with STEM content through the creative learning framework of STEAM. For more information, visit our education page.

Image thumbnail: prototype made by Christian McKenzie in response to the challenge using littleBits.

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Let’s hear from: Brisbane City Council Library Services

Over the last 12 months, The Cube has partnered with Brisbane City Council libraries to deliver a series of innovative electronics and coding programs for children aged 8-12 using littleBits, LEGO MINSTORMS NXTs, MaKey MaKey and Scratch.

The Cube’s innovative programs have been hugely popular in Brisbane City Council libraries. Demand continues to grow exponentially in the areas of electronics, robotics and coding for children as families actively search for opportunities to help children prepare for a future where an ability to leverage these technologies will be considered a basic life skill.

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The workshops are accessible to a wide cross-section of the Brisbane community and cater for all abilities. Each course encourages children to build confidence and learn important life skills such as teamwork, creative collaboration and presentation skills, while developing new connections within their local community.

I am amazed by the ability of each child to absorb, innovate and apply this technology so quickly and enthusiastically.

Cube Chat entry courtesy of Jane Peel, Brisbane Digital Hub Coordinator, Brisbane City Council Library Services.