kids, robotics and education

David Ashton

Well-Known Member
this is really a spin off from "oh My"But will probably generate much heat and hopefully a little light.When 'Sean was 7 he would get bored and we would let him play in the basement disco at the theatre with the Martin 218's, then he got bored playing with them so we got him to programme states and chases and by the time he was about 11 we got an 'innovator 48/96' and we gave him the manual and he worked it out and had lots of fun with that.Now every time a desk came in to be fixed we gave it to Sean to give it a workout.Along the way he learnt the maths to work out loading and dip switch codes and the physics to understand 3 phase and power factor and neutral currents and colour mixing and heaps of other "educational" stuff without realizing it was educational.Now when I put a rig in a school for their musical [all our gear is pre-loved or Chinese] I tell the kids how the gear works and explain that this is just a 4 dimensional video game.Most of these kids will spend hours playing and plotting and with minimal assistance will get some good results.I could do better and in half the time however school is not for my benefit and few people learn by watching others so the shows they produce are their shows not my shows.When I give a lesson to a class I show them the basics of cleaning, focusing and lamp changing, talk about colour and angles etc then tell them that this theatre is a big toy and it has to be played with, in the same way you can't be a good footballer playing 2 hrs a week you need to spend time playing this game.Sean will typically spend 20-60 hrs on a show and it only because shows are normally rigged during the holidays that he can put in this time, but when he's on a show he is totally fired up and motivated.So this is the context in which Sean is our specialist moving lights person.I will leave it at that for now and await some comment.


Active Member
EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT! This is kind of how I learned. That and letting the magic smoke out of things.

Speaking of which, I need to go find more magic smoke.

Radio Shack - You have questions, we have cell phones cause we sure don't stock electronics anymore!



Active Member
Right after I submitted my last post, this showed up in my email:

It might not be entirely accurate or perhaps just a legend, but it's a
great story about learning how to think differently.


Some time ago I received a call from a colleague. He was about to give
a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the
student claimed a perfect score. The instructor and the student agreed
to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected.I read the examination
BUILDING WITH THE AID OF A BAROMETER." The student had answered, "Take
the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to
it,lower it to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length
of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building."
The student really had a strong case for full credit since he had
really answered the question completely and correctly! On the other
hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high
grade in his physics course and to certify competence in physics, but
the answer did not confirm this. I suggested that the student have
another try. I gave the student six minutes to answer the question
with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of
physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I
asked if he wished to give up, but he said he had many answers to this
problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for
interrupting him and asked him to please go on. In the next minute, he
dashed off his answer which read: "Take the barometer to the top of
the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer,
timing its fall with a stopwatch.Then, using the formula x=0.5*a*t^^2,
calculate the height of the building." At this point, I asked my
colleague if he would give up. He conceded,and gave the student almost
full credit. While leaving my colleague's office, I recalled that the
student had said that he had other answers to the problem,so I asked
him what they were. "Well," said the student, "there are many ways of
getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For
example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure
the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length
of the shadow of the building,and by the use of simple proportion,
determine the height of the building." "Fine," I said, "and others?"
"Yes," said the student, "there is a very basic measurement method you
will like. In this method, you take the barometer and begin to walk up
the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the
barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this
will give you the height of the building in barometer units." "A very
direct method." "Of course. If you want a more sophisticated method,
you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a
pendulum, and determine the value of g at the street level and at the
top of the building. From the difference between the two values of g,
the height of the building,in principle, can be calculated." "On this
same tact, you could take the barometer to the top of the
building,attach a long rope to it, lower it to just above the street,
and then swing it as a pendulum. You could then calculate the height
of the building by the period of the precession". "Finally," he
concluded, "there are many other ways of solving the problem.Probably
the best," he said, "is to take the barometer to the basement and
knock on the superintendent's door. When the superintendent answers,
you speak to him as follows: 'Mr. Superintendent, here is a fine
barometer. If you will tell me the height of the building, I will give
you this barometer." At this point, I asked the student if he really
did not know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted
that he did, but said that he was fed up with high school and college
instructors trying to teach him how to think. The student was Nobel
prize winning physicists Neils Bohr.


CB Mods
Wow, I'm printing that out and keeping it.


CB Mods
You never heard that before. Every science teach I had between middle school and college has told me that story, and I do believe that Neils Bohr was the person to whom the story belongs.


CB Mods
In the spirit of this thread, though a slight hijack, here is another story about university science tests:

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term.

The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat) ?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.​


Senior Team
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Fight Leukemia
Sean's a lucky boy... wish I had the opportunity to do all those things at such a young age.

The topic of Sean being a specialist reminds me a lot of a series of posts about a year ago that had a lot of people hot of the use of the term "Technical Director" by high school students. Some people work their whole life to achieve the status of being called a T.D. They find it a little insulting that a teenager might refer to them self with the same term... especially when the job performed is dramatically different from a professional adult with the same title. A high school T.D. rarely (I might even say never) does the job of a professional T.D. setting budgets, working with designers and overseeing the scene shop and other areas of production (depending on the theater). It's typically really a combination of Production Manager, Master Carpenter, Master Electrician, and Light/Sound Op. The kid with the most dedication and most skills gets the title. I have encouraged our younger members to refer to themselves as a "Student T.D." It's a term that is far more accurate, everyone understands what it means, and it is respectful to the real T.D.'s out there who have worked so hard for so long to achieve that level.

In your case you've got a great family business. Should your son be called a specialist? If I was a huge corporation hiring your company to produce a U2 tour at a major regional venue... I would be a little ticked to find out the age of your specialist. But that's not who your clients are. It sounds like the majority of your clients would appreciate that your son is so involved. As long as you aren't making a huge deal in your marketing that you have a great moving light specialist without revealing his age why would I as a customer care? So do what you like. If he's mastered all your equipment and can run it just as well as you can... call him a specialist.


Not a New User
Fight Leukemia
I have encouraged our younger members to refer to themselves as a "Student T.D." It's a term that is far more accurate, everyone understands what it means, and it is respectful to the real T.D.'s out there who have worked so hard for so long to achieve that level.
And you can say "where is my S.T.D.??"


Well-Known Member
And you can say "where is my S.T.D.??"

Did Gaff not think this through? Or, was he hoping to see an influx of résumés in the next couple of years with "STD" written all over them? :twisted:

"What experience do you have? Well your résumé seems to say you were the Master Electrician at the end of last year, that's good. But wait, what is this, in your most recent show you had an STD? Does this mean you couldn't do any work?"


Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
The S.T.D. joke has already been addressed in old threads guys. Ha... Ha... get over it Beavis and Butthead (I'll let you two decide which is which).


CB Mods
You never heard that before. Every science teach I had between middle school and college has told me that story, and I do believe that Neils Bohr was the person to whom the story belongs.

No, my science teachers just liked to say how "science doesn't suck, it blows".


Well-Known Member
Chemistry blows physics sucks and biology stinks.


CB Mods
Premium Member
Here's two of my favorite free thinking Math test answers.
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