Chapter 1 made available

My publisher has posted Chapter 1 of "The Mayan Adventure" on their website. This chapter opens the fictional storyline that continues throughout the book (in chapters 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, and concludes in 21). I've had some people ask for a sample chapter or 2, so I hope this helps. I'm going to try and see if they will print some excerpts from chapter 2 (Theory chapter), chapter 3 (Building instructions) and chapter 4 (Programming chapter).

You can download the PDF file for Chapter 1 here.


Anonymous said…
Very nice, I like very much the way you incorporated the NXT into the story. To me it seemed a little forced, he brought his NXT to an archaeological find? But I think to someone who has not been following your posts about this book, it will seem perfectly normal. And even with someone who has followed the books growth, they want the bots, and the story doesn't have to flow very well. It's not a novel after all:)
Hi, Maniac.

I don't know about you, but I took my NXT home for the holidays because I knew I'd have time to play... (and I figured there would be some slow time).

Evan takes NXT kit because he truly does not believe he'll have any fun on the archaeological expedition... he might as well sit in a tent and build robots than go exploring... but he soon finds out he's wrong :)

Glad you liked it...

Anonymous said…
“Time to get started,” he said. Well i think this line is to far in the book.

Let me point out that i liked the story. It works with a problem VS solution approach.. But it is on the 7th page.. Well that may not look like much for a book of 300 - 400 pages. But i think it is a little bit too long.

But maybe it is just my opionion as someone that would prefer to build instead of reading 7 pages towards the building challenge.

After all i think it will be a great book with somekind of story in it. Keep up the hard work ;)
Wingnutamj said…
I liked it. It was late and I kinda skimmed through it but I like d the plot. Don't think I would take my nice NXT to a place with lots of dirt or sand. Unlike Dan I think the book needs the plot before the building or else to me it'd be like why would he build something like that in the real world. (huge 5 ft diameter spike tires with machine guns on the front). (the um teen in me coming out.
Anonymous said…
I read the chapter and really enjoyed it - the tomb makes a very good 'hook' for both the NXT (I didn't find it forced - I drag my NXT everywhere) and Evan. Both those elements get the beginner involved.

The feeling I got was "Let's see what they end up doing..." which is a perfect lead to teaching.

My only question is:

Jim , you from FSU?:-)

Anonymous said…
I liked it alot! The book isn't going to appeal to everyone, but I can see teachers using it and maybe coming up with their own stories. Do I smell sequel???

I have a question. Is the storyline used in the other chapters or only the ones you mention? I'm still not sur e how this book works but I did like the chapter 1.

Hi, Joe. Yes, FSU for Industrial Engineering degree and University of West Florida for English degree.

Glad you liked the chapter... it was fun to write. Didn't we meet last year at the Atlanta FLL tourny?

Kurt: Sequel? I don't know. It depends on sales and demand, obviously, but the book took a lot of time and the process of building and photographing and then retaking photos and then editing... argh. Very stressful. If I do another one, it'll probably have a different storyline and theme with all new characters... we'll see.

As for how the book works - this seems to be a common question, so I'm happy to answer it for you. Rather than rewrite the whole thing, here's text from a review I wrote on Amazon that will hopefully explain how the book works:

First, there are 5 robot projects that require one (1) NXT robotics kit - preferably the retail kit, but the educational kit will work with some minor substitutions.

The book has a storyline running through it - Evan is on vacation with his archaeologist uncle in Guatemala, exploring a newly discovered Mayan tomb. The archaeology team begins to encounter problems in accessing areas of the tomb and Evan comes to the rescue by offering to build small robots that can go in and accomplish certain tasks that a human cannot.

The book is broken into 5 sections. Each section has 1 chapter that has part of the fictional story. The story starts in Chapter 1 and continues in chapters 5, 9, 13, 17, and concludes in chapter 21.

Next, each section contains a "building theory" chapter that helps you to examine the problem the archaeology team has encountered and to brainstorm (mindstorm) a robotics solution. You use a "Design Journal Page" for each robot (and I've included 6 blank copies in the back of the book for you to follow along). These theory chapters are found in chapters 2, 6, 10, 14, and 18.

Finally, complete building instructions (photos) are provided for all 5 robots in chapters 3, 7, 11, 15, and 19. Programming instructions (screenshots of the NXT-G programming language) are provided in chapters 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20. In these chapters you'll also find instructions for setting up your "testing environment" to simulate the challenges faced by the archaeological team.

Also included are some appendices that cover websites, blogs, how to document your own robot creations, NXTLOG (community web tool) and the new Compass Sensor.
Anonymous said…

I got Mindstorms NXT over the holidays and was looking for a way to get my 7 year-old daughter involved with building things with it. We play Lego together a lot and she's strong with both reading and math, but I wasn't sure she'd be up for the extra patience required for Mindstorms.

In any case, I bought your book and had her read the first chapter. She really enjoyed it and wanted to see how Evan was going to get the robot to push the pressure switch.

So now we're settling into a pattern where she's reading that first chapter TO ME (the story), and then I read the planning/construction portions TO HER... as we build it together.

We're just starting the process, but so far so good... it's a lot of fun.

Anyway, I thought you might like to know that at least one reader (or pair of readers) is enjoying your mix of the fictional story and the plans for the robots.

Thanks for the note, Jeff... I'm all for anything that encourages more time spent together learning. Hope you and your daughter enjoy the rest of the book.

Unknown said…

> Don't think I would take my nice NXT to a place with lots of dirt or sand.

Actually, last summer I took my MDP's NXT kit with me on a camping trip for two weeks. Every evening I was building in front of my tent until dusk (and mostly even afterwards). The first thing to do in the morning was to search the grass for the parts that I had lost the night before. ;-)
It was real fun.

Anonymous said…
I like the first chapter so well it makes me want to go get it.
Evan talking about the NXT seemed some what forced. Overall it seens like it's a good book.

rhenrichs said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rhenrichs said…
Jim, I bought Mayan Adventure about a week ago and started reading it just the other day. I like the format alot. One question though; I looked on apress site for downloadable version of Design Journal and can't seem to find the file. Any help would be great.

rhenrichs said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I'll contact Apress and ask... it's supposed to be there somewhere :)

Anonymous said…
I bought the book and I like it. The story definitely makes it more fun because you are encouraged to analyze the problem and think up your own solution. It's nice there is a solution in the book if you can't think of everything. I also looked on the Apress site and cannot find the Design Journal pdf. I'm hoping to get my kids involved in robot building and books like this seem like a good way to do it.
Thanks for your comment... I am working with Apress to get the Design Journal Page posted... I've also asked for excerpts for chapters 2, 3, and 4 and one of their design staff is working to get it to me very soon. I'll post a notice as soon as the PDF files are made available.


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