Olin university chapter/archives

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Things that relate to education

  • Needham elementary
    • Can do more education ideas if we go here
    • Sandra is contacting Mary Risuto (?) about contacting them to go to their classroom / run a similar program
    • computers for needham but we need to figure out what they would like
  • After school program with science program
    • Let's talk to the teachers and see
    • After school = lots of paperwork
    • leverage the international experience of an xo
    • merits of programming is questionable
  • CFS
  • XO Robotics
    • would cost money
    • box with motors and wheels, xo, and mentor
    • give them a goal, let them figure it out
    • use scratch to make a drag-and-drop interface for controlling robots
    • use turtleart to help with kid-friendly interface
    • 4th grade activity vs robotics - two diff things or one thing?
    • pass this idea through OLPC et all
  • Pen Pals
  • Be a resource for other educators


  • am interested in a service component
  • got in because of hardware but stayed in because of service
  • I have a repair center in my basement that should have been moved to Case Western
    • can bring it to Olin
  • have huge interest in analog/digital divide
  • simplified SMU to get something to go from one place to the other
  • xos have lot of potential for physical learning
  • have same processing as x86 processor
  • what about weeklong of XO robotics


  • something would be remiss without hardware and service
  • programming
  • hardware is fascinating
  • software, not so much firmware
  • not much experience w/ microcontrollers but think they are novel


  • hardware
  • computer repair skills
  • programming, software design for xo


  • let's document things that already exist, make things that already exist work better
  • more interested in a regular classroom thing


  • We have one XO that is the current build
  • Repair Centers
    • Give one get one program launched, started shipping laptops- very hands off.
    • People don't know how to use them, no official repair centers, can't buy spare parts
      • Do we know which laptops are gives/gets? No, but shipping might.
    • Grassroots movement to start local repair centers
      • Buy parts, have them shipped, send you laptop, fix and test, send it back!
      • Pros: Not too expensive for donor, Cheap for us, no $$
      • Another give one / get one program for repairs?
    • Olin Involvement?
      • Scaling is a problem
      • We'd get trained
      • We have a lot of questions to ask
        • How many would we get
        • Streamlining Things
      • We're interested, but we still have questions!
  • Sustainable repair center business model
    • See what happens
    • Document!
  • Help distribute with give/get many.
    • Less viable, but mentioned
    • Have people distribute to groups that have banded together to order
  • Whether or not to design for something to stamp from cardboard so it's easy to ship OLPCs
    • Repair center and distribution benefit from this
    • Fold and tape shut!
  • Targeting our skills
    • Designing boxes > Packing boxes
  • Hackathon/Mini-Jam
    • See the mini-Jam from last summer for games.
    • Could copy OSA Flash Conference, or be part of it.
    • A week long thing for a couple hours everyday when people drop it and work and write code or build things or play with peripherals.
      This is what IMSA did - it worked pretty well, for the record. More lead time to get parts, info, etc. for physical projects and ones that involved contacting people outside the original team. Mchua 22:55, 28 January 2008 (EST)
    • Nope. Better to have one day.
    • Inviting other colleges?
    • At Olin with student body?
    • Saturday at Olin, get them to pitch in for guests, use dining hall
    • Have projects people can attack already
    • Really open ended now. People can write what they want.
    • WHO WANTS TO BE IN CHARGE? AndyP, Ollie, Yifan
      • Report back within two weeks!
      • Themes,Dates
    • See disassembling later
  • Partnering with IMSA
    • They're open but we need concrete ideas
    • Do we want diplomacy?
    • Mentoring, fabrication?
      They especially need someone who can help the circuits team with designing sensor input modules. Mchua 22:55, 28 January 2008 (EST)
    • They seem into coding.
      Actually, not so much - they're open to learning how to code, but want to do other things - grassroots org (they're doing a lot of outreach to the rest of Chicago), curriculum particularly language learning, documentation (especially filming), Health hardware and software but also medical-related content and testing, going out into the field in other countries - talk to them about things that aren't engineering or coding, too. Mchua 22:55, 28 January 2008 (EST)
  • Who wants to get back to Ian?
    • Greg will help.
    • Ellen likes to solder.
  • Disassembling an XO
    • Videotape profs and students taking apart an XO and talking about what they see
    • Talk about user interface and code
    • One of the jam themes!
      I so want to see this film when it is done. Mchua 22:55, 28 January 2008 (EST)
  • Projects
    • YALP
      • Good HFID thing?
      • Usability? Redesign?
      • Yes, we like HFID + YALP! Yay!
    • Ideas?
      • Andy has ideas for subtasks.
    • Streamlining new people so they can use the wiki and be functional and comfy!
      • Get wiki accounts and check these pages
      • Ollie is in charge of the page internships, needs a wiki account.
  • Witty insults
    • Python is a leftist programming language, and thus we are communists.
    • C++ is capitalist, if anyone is wondering.
      Sounds like a blast, folks. I miss you all. Mchua 22:55, 28 January 2008 (EST)

12/16/07 (Office Hours)

  • SJ gave us two more XOs to play with!
  • we should look into making B1s and B2s work with latest builds of Sugar
  • anyone interested in helping out with the content and volunteer mailing lists should contact me or SJ
  • if you have ideas for cool OLPC shirts, make them! (designs can be submitted to Wikimedia Commons, see the Wikimedia upload tutorial)
  • anyone who makes a VoIP or video chat application for Sugar is super cool



  • Lynne works with special ed kids
  • Lynne is only deaf person at school, everyone else can hear
  • Got them involved with robotix (2002)
  • Do it after school
  • Saw Olin's website
  • Creative things with few materials
  • So far lego robotics and math
    • want to move to not-lego robotics
  • kids not quite making the grades for standardized tests
    • mcats (MA state preformance tests)
      • reading
      • writing
      • social science
      • science (lowest score in science))
  • school is restructuring
  • data analysis - look at mcat scores, see if doing well at math, etc
  • students want project-based learning
  • maybe do curriculum, with projects, focus on some data results (students scores)- ie bark-meter to see what dog is saying when barks
  • interested in art, music, etc, try not to downsize
  • K-5, ages 3-12
  • VHP person came to school, gave school $10,000
    • mentors keep kids from giving up
    • especially girls give up
    • not enough people


  • come to look at school, see if it's what we want to do
  • implement project-based learning
  • tag with Engineering Discovery (Needham, Heena)
  • Steve is working in Hyde Park (FIRST)
  • Andy P remedial math programs
  • Wellesley connection:
    • Andy P has connection
    • SWE may have connection
    • want to activate this

we should:

  • meet with Engineering Discovery
    • maybe semester-long project to integrate
      • robotic puppets, keyboards, etc
      • Fred Martin at UMASS develped the "cricket" (robotic computer)
      • can create puppets and interactive art, carwash


  • from tech boston
  • size people department
  • try to support schools in advanced projects,
  • second year involved in robotics
  • city-wide involvement
  • middle school kids do FIRST


  • aluminum/steel
  • halfway between lego robots and FIRST
  • november 19th good time to visit principal?
    • possibly in morning, at 10
    • have a lot of data of student progress that we could look at for inspiration
    • lots of % of students who don't understand this or that
  • perfect solution:
    • students think of a project to build and create
    • brainstorming
    • how to get a car to levitate?
    • In the end, the kids say "I did this"
    • mentorship seems to be key component
    • sucessful, sucess often, sense of acomplishment, role model and content expertise
    • emphasize student-built curriculum, less teacher talking, more student talking
    • we can brainstorm projects for them, interesting ideas (solar cars?)
    • Greg had Invention Convention in middle school
  • grant is for MCATS, follows them from 3rd grade to 5th grade, for science classes.


  • working with Lynne Robbins
    • arranging a meeting with her
    • discussing possible content/projects
    • mentoring students
  • discussion on give 1 get 1 program
  • developer app still stalled
  • Ben's project
    • audio editing and synthesis for kids
    • already mostly written - command line/basic GUI
    • python based - can't synthesize in real time
    • plans to design a better GUI/interface
    • interface design ideas welcome - we'll have a interface design/brainstorm session sometime next week

To Do List

  • contact Lynne Robbins (done)
  • schedule Yalp interface design meeting (done)
  • documentation


Olin students visited the OLPC office on August 29, 2007. Here are the notes as transcribed from the board.


  • Community service group led by Nikki
  • Mel is OLPC liaison, will be on IRC (nick mchua) every Friday 3-5, and available through email.
    • What IRC channel on what network, and what e-mail address? GregMarra 16:19, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

Why University chapters are great

  • Cutting edge technology
  • Variety of perspectives
    • catching details
    • more dedication
    • more experience
  • publicity
    • awards


  • Financial independence
  • Professional quality


What you do goes beyond your classroom walls - instead of making your software design project available to... say, Allen Downey, you make it available to thousands of children. "You're going to do it anyway... why not release your work in a way that other people can benefit from it?"


  • easier to make big things, long-term projects - can "pass it on" to

later students

  • "apprenticeships" with students learning from those with more experience
  • transfer of information between colleges
  • development communities keep people motivated


  • between schools
  • between students at Olin
  • between students and profs at Olin
  • between Olin profs and profs from other schools
  • between Olin students and students at other schools
  • between all of the above and the free culture development community

What you can do

  • development
    • hardware
    • software
    • content
      • textbooks
      • pictures/art
      • curriculum
      • games
      • lessons
      • music
  • translation
  • outreach
    • to local businesses
    • give demos
    • work with local kids
    • to government
  • research/IS/passionate pursuits
    • in education
    • in engineering
    • in computer science
    • in sociology...
    • you want to do it, we'll find a way to make it happen

General Tasks

  • administrative support - serv/core/"hey president miller, dr m., et al, we're doing this!" (greg, ellen, andyp)
  • outreach program - running demo requests (ollie, once Olin gets some XOs; ollie, ping mel when the XOs arrive)
  • flash conference through ideatree (molly)
  • wellesley liason - do they want to help? start their own chapter? (andyp)
  • talk to professors about advising projects, helping out, and especially about allowing Olin students to do OLPC projects for course assignments
    • POE (abarry) done
    • SCOPE - coordinate student interest in a team (sallen)
    • ECS (steveo)
    • ICB (velin & ollie)
    • focs (yifan + ilari)
    • wired ensemble (?)
    • analog digital (steveo)
    • discrete (?)
    • software design (greg) done

Olin todo for OLPC

OLPC todo for Olin

  • development image (w/ Steveo) - standing by for questions
  • swag - for expo; nikki will ping with how much is needed.
  • documentation (w/ Molly, Yifan, Sallen) - waiting for projects to start
  • "volunteer day" at the office - postponed til spring.
  • spring OLPC conference w/ other area schools (later) - postponed til spring.
  • university chapter blog (later) - postponed til more chapters come.

Talking to People

Software Design

Greg Marra met with Matt Jadud, the professor for Software Design F2007, and discussed possibilities for producing something for the OLPC as part of SD. Matt was intrigued by the possibilities of tying into POE, and went to speak with Oscar/Brad. SD will likely be tailoring our final projects to be something for the OLPC in (Scheme/Python), pending the class generally liking this when we ask on Weds, Sept 5. The final decision will likely be ready on Friday, and Matt wants to talk to Mel more in-depth. Also, Matt knows lots about OLPC-ness already, which is awesome. GregMarra 16:22, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

As of Thursday, Sept 6th, word from Matt is that we will have the option of working with the OLPC for our final projects, including working in conjunction with kids in POE, as part of Software Design GregMarra 00:09, 7 September 2007 (EDT)