LEGO EV3 parts needing to be organized (foreground), VEX parts and containers in the background.

2021-2022 School Year Prep – Week 2: Disassembly & Storage Begins

The difficulty of assessing this stage of the process should be evident in that I still needed the first day of this week to finish the move of materials into my new room before I could even begin to organize storage and begin to disassemble the robot project that we abandoned in March 2020. Then, because all of this effort is unpaid, I took the next day, Tuesday “off.” 

So the first rule of planning for the coming school year, when it comes to robotics, is you have to know what you have to work with (as far as parts and kits) and you cannot really do that until you organize the specific parts into specific piles. Except for unopened new kits (the new VEX IQ kits, for example), you cannot assume that the boxes were inventoried before they were stored. So, everything has to be pulled out and displayed/stored in a way so that all of the different components can be accounted for. At the same time, I have to keep in mind that this is early June, and some time before the beginning of the school year the custodial staff is going to want to “clean” the room, at least the floor and possibly move all of the furniture to one side of the room to do the cleaning. Now that I have every flat surface piled high with very heavy boxes of gear, good luck with that. 

I’m using the book shelves in the back of the room to store and organize the metallic robot parts. It’s a lot of stuff and a bit too heavy for me to imagine it will be a useful setup for little sixth graders to use. So organization and inventory comes first, what do I have, then in the next step (hopefully after the cleaning crew does the floors…), I’ll organize things much closer to how we’ll work in the coming school year. 

Example of one of the abandoned VEX robots that needed to be disassembled
Example of one of the abandoned VEX robots that needed to be disassembled

Of the three disassembly/store days I spent this week, the first was just putting the metal bits and plates into the shelves. The second day was spent beginning to disassemble the VEX robots and Cortex testbeds/stations that had been abandoned March 2020. And the third day was spent going through the eight LEGO EV3 kits so that I would have one complete kit to take with me to next week’s robotics training sessions. 

As for how I plan to store robot parts during the school year, I will be pulling all of the different parts and store them in accessible bins centrally located versus having the proper number and types of parts in each individual kit. I tried maintaining all of the robot parts in each kit when I first started teaching robotics at Fitzgerald. But it took so much time after every class session to  check and re-check every single kit to see what parts were missing that I had to find a different way to keep track of all of the robot parts. I decided to have every part placed in bins in a central location and students would only get the parts they needed for the project they were building. Also because student were working in pairs, one student would shop for the parts one step at a time while the partner did the build. It kept everyone busy and made managing the parts so much easier. 

Every flat surface covered with boxes and kits of robot parts needing to be disassembled and stored
Every flat surface covered with boxes and kits of robot parts needing to be disassembled and stored

This is all probably more than anyone cares about, but these are the things that one has to think about when managing hundreds (thousands?) of robot parts with over a hundred students over the course of 37 weeks. Unlike just running a computer lab where you have to have working software and accounts and maybe 35 PCs, things get a lot more complicated when you add hundreds small computerized plastic and metal parts to the mix. Anyway, next week I’m going attend a week long conference working with VEX and LEGO robot systems. Yes, I get to play with the little besties AND get paid for my time. 

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