Welcome to Mike Grusin's

“The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments (1960).
Dangerous projects include: making chlorine, ammonia, hydrogen, and ethanol.
The book is long out of print, and used copies are very expensive (Amazon.com has used copies for over $100). Of course, in today’s litigious environment, no major publisher would dare republish a book that had actual chemistry experiments in it, for fear getting sued. The book is an example of everything great about vintage children’s science books. Once you lay your eyes on it, you will come to the sad realization that our society has slipped backwards in at least three important ways: 1. The writing quality in old kids’ science books was better; 2. The design and illustration was more thoughtful and skillful; 3. Children in the old days were allowed and encouraged to experiment with mildly risky but extremely rewarding activities. Today’s children, on the other hand, are mollycoddled to the point of turning them into unhappy ignoramuses.”
-Mark Frauenfelder

The Knights of Colbert

Filed under: Uncategorized — mgrusin at 12:36 pm on Friday, April 6, 2007

I’ve had the honor this year of helping out Fairview High School with their entry in the FIRST Robotics Challenge, the Colbertron.  Every year the FIRST organization (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) announces a challenging new contest, and give teams of students just six weeks to build, program and test their entry. This year’s contest, “Rack and Roll”, required the robots to pick up inflated tubes and place them on a rack for points. Extra points could be gained by raising robots up to 12″ off the ground at the end of the match.

The six weeks went by quickly (with all the drama of any good engineering project), and on March 29th the regional competition began at the University of Denver’s Magnus Arena. The rookie Fairview team did an outstanding job in both robot construction and driving, even being called out by the announcers for helping push another robot up a ramp at the end of a match.

After a day and a half of competitions, the top 32 robots went on to elimination matches. Unfortunately, Fairview was ranked 33rd! The team was a little bummed out that they had come so close to continuing. But then a higher-ranked team chose Fairview to be on their team (due to their excellent driving skills and teamwork), so they got to continue.

In the elimination matches (which were best-of-three), Fairview lost the first match, won the second (and got to continue!), but lost the third 140 to zero (ouch). But it was a heck of a ride. This was Fairview’s first FIRST competition, and the students are already planning for next season.

Final standings (Fairview is team #2036)
Lots of pictures in the Flying Circuits Gallery

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