Robotics is a crazy field to me. Things that were once only science fiction are now easily created by anyone willing to put in a little time to learn how. Getting into robotics is easier and more accessible than it ever has been. Whether you’re looking to dip your toes in for the first time or are a seasoned veteran of the Flaming Chickens, grab one of these to beef up knowledge and skills in robotics.

The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team,and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts, by Neal Bascomb. In 2009, Neal Bascomb followed four robotics teams as they prepared for the FIRST Robotics Competition. The book primarily focuses on Team 1717 from Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy in Goleta, CA, from the beginning of build season to the championships in Atlanta, and all the highs and lows in between.  Check out an interview with the author and Amir Abo-Shaeer, the teacher who led the Dos Pueblos D’Penguineers.

Robot Building for Beginners and Intermediate Robot Building, by David Cook. Interested in learning a bit about robotics on your own this summer? These books make a great start. From understanding simple circuits to motors to sensors, these two volumes cover a large variety of topics to keep you busy this summer.

The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation, by Jay Harman. Biomimicry is a fairly recent word in the English language. It is the imitation of nature and its systems to solve other human problems. The concept isn’t new. Studying how birds fly and glide inspired the first airplanes. As our understanding of nature has grown, the possibilities of biomimicry have as well. Butterfly wings have spurred advancements in digital displays. The shape of fish has improved the efficiency of cars. And shark skin has inspired the surface of nano-materials. Read about this exciting and cutting edge field.

Books on Arduino

“Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.” ( It’s affordable, easy to use, and can do just about anything you can think of. Here’s a short video about what it is, what it can do, and how it works:

Want to try it out? The library has 6 books filled with Arduino projects, including the one from the video, Make: Arduino Bots and Gadgets: Learning by Discovery.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks. Rounding out our robotics recommendations is Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, a lighthearted graphic novel. When the robotics team and the cheerleading team vie for the same funding, each runs a member for student council president to secure the money. When things look grim for both groups, they must band together to secure the funding by winning the upcoming Robot Rumble competition. Shen and Hicks combine to create a hilarious story with quirky yet easy to follow illustrations, making this a must read for robot fans and graphic novel fans alike.

Our collection of robotics books is one we’re still working on. Do you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see? Let us know!

– Dennis


Summer Borrowing is Underway!

With just three short weeks to go until the school year ends,

Summer Borrowing

has begun!  From May 27 through June 13, all returning students in the Upper School may check out books for the entire summer.  Returning Catlin Gabel faculty and staff are eligible to borrow as well.  These items won’t be due until September 12, 2014.

Come join the browsers.  It’s been a brisk morning of checkouts already!




Summer Borrowing Begins May 27th!

When the Summer Borrowing sign goes up in the US Library window, you know that the school year is winding down.  Very soon we’ll be building some fun displays on all sorts of topics to entice you to borrow books for the summer.  Who’s eligible?  All returning US students may participate, and all returning Catlin Gabel faculty and staff.

There’s a brand new 3D Arts display in the library, thanks to Chris Mateer’s students.  Here is a photo preview.

What you can’t see is the vivid colors and textures in this display.  There’s a dreidle made of matzoh, a Timbers jersey of stiff paper and green dot stickers, a house of Scrabble tiles, an animal constructed of marshmallows, and a groovy breakfast sign.  Come see!

Have a wonderful weekend.


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