Peanuts and NASA:A 50th Anniversary Celebration |

Source: Peanuts and NASA:A 50th Anniversary Celebration |



(8) funsciencedemos – YouTube

Source: (8) funsciencedemos – YouTube

I really like this YouTube Channel, I use it to help demo certain topics in science. I added some of the videos my student playlists I made in YouTube. The channel is made by Temple University. They also have a website with various resource: FunScienceSupport

Check them out!

Bioprinting 101: Part 3 Industrial Printers | | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

Read this article if you want a good general basis on the 3D bioprinting industrial options available.

Source: Bioprinting 101: Part 3 Industrial Printers | | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

Its amazing how far 3D printing has come in the medical field. Take a look at all the different methods and printers they are using.

What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you | Science News

Law enforcement can now use one company’s private DNA database to investigate rapes and murders.

Source: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you | Science News

So you know how we talk that double edged sword? Here is great discussion you can have with your students, Police using the DNA databases of FamilyTreeDNA. Other companies like 23andMe are not sharing any information. But will this change? Great topic for ethics.

Rover is Driving

A couple of things have happened in the past couple of weeks since my last post. The most important Rover event…ITS DRIVING! can’t believe we got it going. But we did it. More like the kids did it! So how did this happen. Well a bit of trouble shooting and hard work. Advice, if you are building the Rover, make sure you have a computer that can handle the Basic Micro Studio software, its needed to calibrate the Robo Claws and Motors. We are still working on turning, but we got it moving. Check out the video below.

The turning will come, once we figure out what is wrong with our settings. The Rover is unique in that has six wheels. So turning is a bit different than a normal 4 wheel turn. The wheels use Ackerman steering which takes into account “if the rover is turning, each wheel will need to spin at a slightly different rate to avoid slipping or “scrubbing”.”

AckermanAckerman Stering Geometry

It’s really interesting looking at the engineering, science and math principles used to build the rover. The next job is not only the turning but also the head. We have to figure out the connections and wiring to the head. The head contains an LED matrix 16×32 pixel display which is controlled by the Raspberry Pi.  Currently the Rover Team is working on getting both done.

Rover Head

We ended up taking part in the NC Museum of Natural Science Astronomy Weekend. Our exhibit contained the Roverto and the Mars map from the Buzz Aldrin Sharespace Foundation.  The Robotics Team and Rover Team, worked together during the day to bring STEM to all the visitors. We had 8 mini rovers, outreach robots and Roverto working all day. According to the museum we had over 14,000 people for the weekend. It was amazing weekend and our students outdid themselves. Throughout the whole weekend visitors complemented our students on their patience and work they were doing.

Our next outreach was part of the Advocacy day for the First Robotics Organization. Our job that day was to talk to NC Representatives and Senators about Robotics and its impact on education. Again another success by our Robotics and Rover Team.


7 Smart Ways To Teach With Your Blog – A.J. Juliani – Medium

​Having a blog can be like standing in a packed street corner with a megaphone. You can be as loud as you want to be, but usually…

Source: 7 Smart Ways To Teach With Your Blog – A.J. Juliani – Medium

If your wondering what to write in your new blog, check this article out. It has some great hints. The author gives some great ideas to keep in mind when writing a blog.

The story continues


So the title is a bit deceiving. When I say the story continues the story continues for a couple of reasons the Mars rover, we are still troubleshooting and calibrating the wheels on the Rover. But the good thing is we are very close to finally getting it to drive.

Meanwhile, we finally had our Google Hangout with Michael Cox from JPL. It was a great talk, Mr. Cox first introduced us to all the missions going on at the center. I never realized how many missions they were or are involved with. But Mr. Cox pointed out that JPL does all  Robotic and unmanned missions.  I didn’t realize this. Some of the best missions have come from JPL.  If you think about it Viking, Voyager 1 & 2, Mars Pathfinder, Cassini, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity are all the missions that have come from JPL. Amazing! His talk was great because it showed the students all that JPL had done and what it offered.

The final discussion was about the Rover, he met the team and discussed how the Rover came about. The Rover team showed him all that they had done and talked about some of the difficulties they faced. It turned out to be a great meeting. I did suggest to him that maybe we could get all the high schools building the Rover together on a skype. Then trade different ideas. He thought that was great and would look into it.

One thing I believe is happening, students are getting a bit frustrated because of the calibration section. They are trying to get the motors and encoders calibrated, their efforts sometimes cause other problems or they find other problems. It’s a frustrating part of the whole build but a great problem solving moment. Actually I even think a great learning moment for them, not everything can go right in real life and this is just a example. I know it is frustrating to them and can be discouraging, they want the Rover to drive! But it’s a learning process that continues with this project.


The year begins!! 2019

Happy New Year! Another year done and now we head into the last leg of the school year. A lot will be happening in the next couple of the months. After thinking about all that is going on, I think I’ll be just a bit busy.

First, we are rolling out our Mars Rover this month. Hopefully we will name it this month, then we will bring it to NC Museum of Natural Science for Astronomy Weekend. It’s going to be a great weekend for all, the Rover Team and Robotics Team will be running the exhibit. A combination of robots and Mars map will make our exhibit one to remember. (By the way Astronomy Weekend is January 26th and 27th at the NC Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh).

Next our Robotics team is going be competing in their first Qualifier, so the next couple of weeks will be hectic with getting the Robot ready. By the way the challenge is called Rover Rukus and fits in well with our Rover. Check out the challenge at the First Tech website.

And of course, there is the daily classes to prepare for. I think I sometimes make more work for myself. I’ve discussed this with my colleagues. Instead of going with the lesson I always must change it. But my classes aren’t the same every year. And I’m always looking to improve to the lessons. Isn’t that what teaching being about also?

But of course, I also have to get involved in other things, like the Blogging Challenge sent out by A.J. Juliani, I tried to do this once before it started out great then went downhill. So, I’m trying it again. With all that’s going on I figure this year I can do this! Anyway, one of the benefits is that I get to read some great blogs by people.  And one of them is my colleagues who started blogging for the new year. Check out her blog. She’s a great Physics teacher and has some awesome things happening in class.

By the way if you are interested in naming the Rover, check out twitter @rippie77 with the Hastag #GibbonsMarsRover. And so the year begins!

Satellite Image Guide for Journalists and Media

Using satellite images A picture is worth a thousand words. Most journalists will agree that this still holds true, and therefore satellite images can be

Source: Satellite Image Guide for Journalists and Media

Great discussion on how to read satellite images. If you use them in class this could be helpful resource when teaching about Satellite images.

Rover Build


So our build started about two months ago. Right now we work 2 days a week with maybe a couple hours on saturday. Like I said before 3 students are leading the charge on this project. But the help various Robotics mentors have been giving has been amazing too. So this entry will talk about the parts and mechanical assembly. Next blog entry will talk about the wiring issues, which I have to say have been challenging but one young man has done an awesome job with it. (Meihir you rock!)

To find all the parts you need for this Rover Project you need to go to the GitHub file area. There you’ll find parts list for different retailers. If you are lucky like our team, our head Robotics Coach/Mentor put a whole list together. He not only put the parts in order, but he also made up a shopping list, where to go and how much each part would cost. If you would like to contact me about that list please feel free, I can see if he will give me permission to share it.

Once we established that we had all the parts, we then had manufacture some of the parts. We are very lucky to have milling machine that was donated to us for cutting various parts. We used this to cut our side plates and base plates. It worked great!  Any type of Lexan parts that we needed we used a Shopbot to cut. Our Lead Coach has a Shopbot he has allowed the school to borrow.

After working on the body parts, we started the wheels. Since the Hubs of the wheels did not have holes we had to cut them. Caution here after drilling the holes we found some of them didn’t line up correctly. Not a surprise, so we only used the holes that matched up (  ). Drill press would be a big help here. Lucky enough there were at least three holes in each wheel that worked. Also make sure the kids or Adults are putting the clamps on correctly. We had some put the screws in wrong way on the clamps hubs and put the clamps hubs on incorrectly. Not a big deal since we caught it, but might have caused a problem down the road.

Once we got the wheels on we started to work on Rocker-Bogie section. This is the section that holds the wheels to the body. When building the Rocker-Bogie be careful with the instructions they are bit confusing. According to our lead builders they need to be improved/clarified on how plates and bars are fitted together. Directions weren’t specific on whether each side is mirrored or the same. Also, you need to cut one of the aluminum channels, we used a milling machine, but obviously not everyone has this type of equipment. This is where a machine shop would be a big help. If you have one near you I would suggest you create a partnership with them, so they can help you.

Rocker Bogie Title

Our next section to work on was the Differential Pivot together. This was the part of the Rover that helps keep it from tipping over. It’s a big part of the suspension system. This is simplified, there is a lot more to it, great Physics lesson here. When putting together this part there was a section that we had to change just a bit, make sure you add more washers in between the aluminum bars and turnbuckle. We found it a bit unstable and adding the extra washers made a difference.

Once you start to build the Rover you come to find out there are small changes you can make to help make it work better. That’s what this blog post is about. These are the mechanical changes we made and tried to improve the build.  There are other minor changes we made, but I only concentrated on the most important ones. One final note, the build I think was easy, it’s the wiring and programing that will take longer. If you are thinking of doing this project contact me and I can share more information about the build.