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Preconference Workshops

Preconference classes are designed to give students, teachers, and mentors an opportunity to focus on a specific topic in a one day workshop environment.

Each year the Global Conference offers several different preconference classes on the day prior to the start of official conference activities. 2015 GCER preconference workshops will be held a day before the actual GCER conference on July 6, 2015.

2015 GCER Pre-Conference Classes

Title: Educator's Edition: Making Sense of Sensors

Instructors: Les Newcastle and Jon Grasmeder


  • Must be a teacher/educator/mentor working with a Botball® team.
  • A laptop (and admin access for loading KISS software) is required.
  • Enthusiasm is required.
  • Some programming experience is preferred, but not required.


This workshop is dedicated to educators who wish to learn more about writing software so that they are better able to teach coding to their students. The session is designed around the Botball® robotic controllers and sensors in the Botball® parts; however the course material can be adapted to many STEM lesson plans.

This class will introduce teachers to the fine art of controlling robots using sensors. At the end of the day, the enthusiastic participant will be able to write a program to control a robot based on sensor inputs. The sensors used will be the touch sensors, light sensors, tophats, ETs, and, of course, the camera. Using these sensors the participant will be able to find walls, follow lines, see colored objects, move towards the objects and stop when they are close enough to touch them.

The format of this workshop will be a series of hands-on exercises that task the participant to move a robot and react to external stimuli as sensed by analog and/or digital sensors. The exercises will be self-paced to allow each educator to proceed at their own speed. Solutions to each exercise will be provided with examples written in C, Java and Python.

Fee: $65

Title: Expressive Robotics: Motion and Emotion

Instructors: Caitlyn Clabaugh and Ross Mead


  • Moderate understanding of KISS-IDE or the C language
  • Familiarity with KISS-C motor and servo commands REQUIRED
  • Each student must have a laptop with the current KISS-IDE loaded


Robots have been built to perform many interesting tasks. However, the roboticists of tomorrow must not only consider what robots can do, but how they do it. This workshop will start with a discussion of how humans interpret very simple actions in very complex ways and how robots interact with humans. Students will then program a robot to do a simple motion (e.g., go to the end of the hallway and back) while demonstrating a given emotion (e.g., happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust). Students will view the other teams' motions and record what they interpreted it as. This will be followed by a discussion of how professionals shape movement to get certain responses. Finally, teams will utilize what they have learned to create short robot films, which may be shown to the conference audience.

Fee: $65

Title: Learning About Microcontrollers

Instructor: Wesley Myers


  • programming experience needed.
  • Each student will need a laptop computer.
  • This class includes a materials fee of $100 in addition to the $65 preconference fee. Participants will be able to keep and reuse the Arduino kit after the session.


In this workshop you will learn about the Sparkfun RedBoard, similar to the Arduino Uno, by making some simple circuits that interface with it. This workshop will help you understand a little more about the electronics used in Botball® by leading you through hands-on practical exercises where you will implement functional circuits driven by the RedBoard.

Fee: $165