As I said before, it is science fair season in Greenwood. After finishing up the required LEGO robot project, many of my science club members are going for their ‘independent study’ badges. This means I give them unlimited access to the bins of LEGO Mindstorms and they run with it. Some students are coming up with their own creations but, due to limited time, most are using instructions from the internet communities that sprung up to support LEGO robotics. So far the projects are constructive (a machine that sorts bricks by color, a machine that solves the Rubik’s Cube) and destructive (voice activated catapult, machine gun rapid brick launcher) I am going another route, hoping to get the kids more into the programming side of things and exploration. I built a “rover-bot” by modifying a design I found. With the help of the students, we programmed him to explore the school, avoid objects using the distance sensors, and back away from chairs, walls, and students if he bumps into them. We then strapped a Flip camera to him to “record” his travels. My original plan was to attach a skype-equipped iPod touch to the robot and set him loose in the high school so that, like the Mars Rover, students could see a live feed of this strange new world from across town. But, sadly, Skype is, for good reason, filtered off our network.
Here is a little video we made explaining the robot and his great journey.