avatar

School teams battle it out at the 2017 FIRST® LEGO® League

This year’s FIRST® LEGO® League Tournament at QUT Gardens Point was a blast! 36 teams, coaches, and spectators arrived bright and early at The Cube on Saturday 18 November to take part in the annual robotics challenge for students aged 9–16 years.

Teams and spectators arriving at The Cube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year’s HYDRO DYNAMICS theme delivered lots of learnings in relation to sourcing, transporting, and disposing of water. Students also applied their water solving skills to real-world problems in the Research Project Challenge eg. improving water fountains at their school or designing their own reusable watter bottle prototype. Read more

avatar

Meet The Cube’s newest robot

Code-A-Bot is The Cube’s new interactive digital game in which players program robot workers to collect and sort rubbish in a bid to create the most efficient virtual waste recycling plant at DERP (Department of Environmental Resource Processing) .

This is what a robot in Code-A-Bot looks like – small and cube-like – we call him robot.

Read more

avatar

School students meet Pepper at The Cube

Over the past two months’ school students participating in The Cube’s newest STEAM for Schools workshop, Tinkering with Technology, have had the opportunity to meet and interact with Pepper the Robot.

Students spend their day at The Cube imagining a future with robots as companions and helpers before tinkering with technology and craft materials to explore their ideas.  The topic was developed in consultation with key QUT researchers in the field of robotics and aims to inspire curiosity and creative thinking.

Read more

Creativity and empowerment through STEAM for Schools program

Leighann Ness Wilson reflects on one of The Cube’s STEAM for Schools programs ‘Prototyping towards an age friendly city: LittleBits’

A few weeks ago we met RoboDog: a robotic companion whose tail lights up and sends a signal for medical attention if it senses its owner is unwell.  We also met the founders of ICU productions who make bionic eyes for the visually impaired and heard a design pitch for a tech-enabled water collection system.

RoboDog

These were just three responses to the question: How might we prototype for an Age Friendly City? This was posed to a group of year 5 students from the Sunshine Coast region during our STEAM for Schools workshop at The Cube.

Read more

avatar

STEM Girl Power Camp at The Cube

The Cube and QUT’s Design Lab teamed up in March to host an exciting workshop program at QUT Gardens Point campus as part of the second annual STEM Girl Power Camp. The workshop coincided with annual World Science Festival (WSF) activities held in Brisbane.

Sixty regional high-achieving Year 10 girls and 10 teachers discovered the power of design in science, technology and enterprise innovation through workshops and presentations from STEAM leaders and experts in their field.

The STEM Girl Power Camp is an important initiative of Advancing education: An action plan for education in Queensland to address the lower participation rates of girls in STEM subjects and careers.

Program co-ordinators Natalie Wright (QUT Design Lab) and Jacina Leong (QUT The Cube) said they embraced the opportunity to provide such a diverse workshop program, revealing design’s critical role in STEM education. It also showcased the city campus and the varied opportunities available for regional girls to study at QUT.

DSC_8943

Read more

avatar

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! 

fll-maps

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 

firstlegoleague

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

avatar

Learn about gravity in the Physics Observatory

I recently went to the doctors, (nothing serious, just a check-up but thanks for asking), the doctor weighed me, he then read out a number and entered it into his computer. The number was 70. What does 70 mean? 70 what? Well kilograms apparently; but what does that mean? I know it’s the same as 70 bags of sugar, but what is the bag of sugar equal to? What does weight actually mean?

2597106339_d99e7d97fb_o

Weight, as we know it, could more accurately be called force, it is the force in which your body or mass is being pulled towards the scales by the gravity of the Earth (don’t try telling your wife it looks like she is putting on a little force, it’s still rude… apparently!). The number we call weight is the result of multiplying our mass by gravity, therefore, if we want our weight number to be less we can reduce our mass or the gravitational acceleration of the Earth, which is easier than you may think!

If I were in a plane flying at 35,000 feet, the gravitational effect of the Earth would be less and the scales I have strapped to my feet would show 69.72kg (yay, it’s working!). If I were to then jump from the plane the scales would read 0this is because the scales are also falling and have nothing to press against to make a reading so I’d still weigh 70kg (boo!). But when I hit the ground my weight would shoot up to 428 kg for a very brief time then cease to be an issue.

If I wanted to lose a little weight I could just move to Denver, Colorado. In Denver, I would only weigh 69.92 kg however in Helsinki I would bust the scales at 70.13 kg. This is due to the irregular surface of the Earth; altitude, local topography and geology all play a part in how gravity affects us and our weight.

If mass and gravity are the factors we calculate weight by, what happens if we crank up the numbers? The Sun, with its huge mass, has a gravitational pull 28 times higher than Earth’s so if I were to stand on the surface of the sun, I would weigh nearly 2 tonnes (wow!). Although my gargantuan weight would be the least of my issues!!!

Unity Education (64bit) - Observatory.unity - PhysicsPlayroom - PC, Mac & Linux Standalone DX11_3

In the Physics Observatory, the new screen project at The Cube, users can adjust the gravity of the room with the gravity board. Visitors can slide the gravity changer all the way from 0g to the same gravity as the Sun. All of the objects in the observatory are affected by the gravity change, even the water flowing from the lion’s mouth and the swinging pendulum; it is lots of fun flinging hundreds of blocks around the room in 0g!

Come have fun with physics at the Physics Observatory. It’s officially opening on 17 September and there will be a physics-inspired holiday program in December/January Summer Holidays.

Unity Personal (64bit) - Observatory.unity - PhysicsPlayroom - PC, Mac & Linux Standalone DX11_3 (2)

avatar

Public Programs: the year that has been …

Leighann Ness Wilson reflects on her role over the last six months, as The Cube’s first STEAM Education Officer.

My name is Leighann Ness Wilson and I’ve had the privilege of being The Cube’s very first STEAM Education Officer. With a Bachelor of Built Environment from QUT and over ten years’ experience in commercial Interior Design, it wasn’t until having my own children that I decided it was time to pursue my underlying goal to become an educator. My role at The Cube has allowed me to combine two of my passions: design and education. The practicums within my Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning, combined with my new role at QUT, have given me a profound sense of fulfilment. I find the combination of education and creativity both emotionally and professionally inspiring.

Read more

avatar

The Physics Observatory (aka Physics Playroom 2.0)

The Cube team have been hard at work this year re-developing The Physics Playroom, one of The Cube’s first screen projects. This new iteration The Physics Observatory, is due to be released sometime in the next six months. In this series of blog posts The Cube’s Digital Interactive Designer, Simon Harrison, will share with us some of the teams’ learnings about physics.

When we decided to update this project to make it even more relevant to high school students, I stumbled upon some interesting facts and became fascinated by tales of physicists, great thinkers and even watchmakers of times gone by.

The original Physics Playroom featured an interesting rotating mechanical solar system. I discovered this device is called an orrery – a clockwork representation of the orbits of the planets that make our solar system. Using only cogs and gears it was possible to accurately simulate the motions of distant planetary bodies, incredibly this was achieved over 300 years ago!

 

orrery

The orrery from the original Physics Playroom

The first orrery was created by a pair of very talented watchmakers from London called George Graham and Thomas Tompion, It was presented to Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery in 1704.

Our orrery has been lovingly crafted using the latest in 3D simulation software and up to the minute data from NASA, however, it looks almost identical to an Orrery from the past. I bet George and Thomas would love to come to The Cube and have a play with ours!

PrtScr capture_3

The new orrery during construction

The new orrery features all the planets (including Pluto, we can’t let it go!) and a selection of planetary moons, all rotating around the sun. If the planets were to rotate at real-time speed, it would take 90,560 days for Pluto to make a single complete orbit, that is almost 250 years! So we have included a speed control to help accelerate and visualise the orbits.

As always we strive to lace our interactives with STEM related curriculum links and the orrery is no exception, our team of STEM teachers and researchers will be creating school workshops and programs linking the orrery to elements included in both the Science and Mathematics learning areas of the Australian National Curriculum. More details about school/holiday programs coming soon.

Unity Education (64bit) - renderScene.unity - PhysicsPlayroom - PC, Mac & Linux Standalone DX11_9

The final orrery in the observatory

And next time we’ll discuss how we managed gravity and how much an elephant may weigh on the surface of the Sun.

avatar

Big ideas abound at FIRST LEGO League 2015

On Saturday 21 November, over 500 children descended on The Cube to compete in this year’s FIRST® LEGO® League ‘Trash Trek’ challenge.

The Cube was abuzz with the excitement and passion of 31 school teams about to embark on the final leg of their Trash Trek challenge, the culmination of months of research, preparation and hard work.

LEGO_LEAGUE_batch1-6

Our ‘Trash Trekkers’ were joined in spirit by over 233,000 children across 80 countries who were also participating in this year’s FIRST® LEGO® League Trash Trek challenge.

LEGO_LEAGUE_batch1-4

We were lucky enough to have the Minister for Science and Innovation, Hon Leeanne Enoch, join us on the day to check out all the young innovators in action.

A big congratulations to the five teams who qualified for the national competition in Sydney: ATC Green Robros, iCode 22, Tech Wizards, Waskally Wilston Twash Twekers, and BSHS Cerise. Check out all winning teams below.

FLL15 Winners

No matter the outcome, all teams showed tremendous spirit, enthusiasm and tenacity, and all have a lot to be proud of. We hope to see many familiar faces back for the 2016 FIRST® LEGO® League.

LEGO_LEAGUE_batch1

Thank you to everyone involved – our  volunteers, team coaches, parents and participants – your hard work, enthusiasm and gracious professionalism made the day one to remember!

The Cube would like to acknowledge the support of the QUT Faculty of Education, QUT Caboolture and Grace Lutheran College.

Want to see more? Find out what it’s really like to compete in FIRST® LEGO® League thanks to Nick Houghton, Leader of Pedagogy at Holy Family Primary School in Skennars Head, and his two 2015 FIRST® LEGO® League Grant-winning teams, iCode 21 and iCode 22. Following the teams’ journey from in-school preparation and training, to participating at QUT The Cube on the day, the video is a must-see for any schools or community groups considering becoming a part of FIRST® LEGO® League in 2016.

Holy Family Primary Schools’ FIRST® LEGO® League video can be viewed here.

Images by Kate O’Sullivan.