AniBots for Primary

I am a very strong proponent that physical computing is a great way to carry on enthusiasm for programming after primary children have out-grown animating sprites on a computer screen.

Or, in fact, getting back to it as they will have probably started their programming journey using Bee-Bots in Reception classes 🙂

Controlling LEDs is the first thing I do (Traffic Lights/ Dice /  7 Seqment display etc) – then its on to fairground rides and then “robots”

1st issue

Say “Robots” -what comes to mind?  I think children would think walking, bipedal machines.

So, we say – “Lets build and program a robot” – then we show them a car type vehicle – immediate cognitive dissonance and disappointment.

So, first off, we could do with a different term to describe a computer controlled vehicle  – haven’t got one myself yet – looking for input 🙂

2nd Issue

Our “robots” are vehicles – cars are vehicles – boys are much more excited by cars than girls.  A lot of boys already have/play/race remote controlled cars – girls – not as much.

I want to everyone to be as equally excited in programming a robot so my idea is to not build a car robotic vehicle but an animal robot.

Animal could be anything – Horse, Cat, Dog, Lion, Elephant etc etc etc

The ultimate AniBot (my new word for these robots) would have multiple jointed servos and be capable of walking/running but that’s an extension activity at moment.

3rd issue

NO TO ROBOTWARS – I am passionately against using war/fight paradigm in teaching STEM so any activities should NOT include this concept.

AniBots 

So what I’d like to build up is ideas on physically creating AniBots and ideas for programming challenges with them 🙂

(Please shout out with more ideas)

All this assumes a Raspberry Pi/Crumble/microbit or Arduino type controller on board the AniBot

  • Build a low flat chassis with motors and stick an existing animal toy on top
  • Same but build the animal with LEGO, stickle bricks, cardboard, anything you (or they) want to

Chassis could be pre-built if needing to get into programming faster – depends upon how much crossover with DT/STEM wanted.

Next level up would be building/sticking motor/wheels and electronics/batteries directly to the animal object so no chassis.  This would be more AniBot-ish but first chassis option much be easier.

After that, its the advance articulated servo powered legs – great extension activity but more suited to secondary level I think

Challenges

So, we’ve built our Anibot and we’ve got it moving around in what I call “remote control car mode” -e.g manual steering using keyboard/mouse/touch movements from a laptop/tablet.

For those educators who’ve not done this yet – that bit is easy – honest 🙂 Just needs 2 blocks per direction using Scratch 🙂

What I want the children to do, is program the AniBot to do stuff autonomously – e.g write a program to do something – press run – get it to achieve design goal

  • Straight-line racing – can be harder than it seems due to inherent variations in motors on left/right side of an AniBot
  • Go and return – even trickier than straight-line
  • Line following – Using line sensors on AniBot (this is where chassis versions is a LOT easier)
    (The line can follow a non-circular path to emulate an equestrian type area)
  • Avoid bumping – Add ultrasonic range finder – AniBot moves away from anything in range
  • Maze navigation – Its advanced but with ultrasonic sensor (and lines to keep AniBots straight or use stepper motor versions) perfectly possible

I’m stopping now as want to publish and get feedback – either here, twitter @cymplecy or email simplecy at googlemail dot com

Simon

 

 

 

 

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *