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Brooke Weston Event

Students at Brooke Weston School, Corby have been working with the University of Northampton's School of Science and Technology on the junkbots project. Scott Turner and Terry Tudor on the 16th and 17th February 2010 went to the school to run the sessions. Starting with a talk and activities on waste management, including how much waste the UK produced, and in terms of numbers of slices of toast what is the cost of energy of leaving a monitor on overnight.  

The task was to produce robots out of rubbish that could carry other rubbish into a containment area. The change made to the sessions was that students brought there own 'junk' to the sessions.

Some innovative and creative designs were produced involving 'legs', wheels (including turning cans into wheels and wheels from old toys). 

Some of the designs pushed rubbish into the area, but one of the designs carried the rubbish into the area and some designs used magnets to pick up small steel parts (nuts and bolts).

 The third task was to use lego-based robots to repeat the second task by programming the robots and use of sensors.

Based on the feedback from Nigel Barratt (see the quote below) who co-ordinated the session at the school, students were encouraged to keep journals of their activities and team leaders were selected by the groups.

"I do feel embedding some sort of diary/journal adds a focus and allows every one to reflect on what they have done."

Based on the feedback shown above the session were enjoyed and the level of engagement was overall high.

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Controlling a junkbot with a Micro:bit

A new direction has been developed for the junkbot project (; previously Raspberry Pis have been used to control the junkbot’s movement ( – but what about the recently released Micro:Bits; can it be used to control a junkbot?
Matthew Hole, a student from Wrenn Academy, Northamptonshire ; has been investigating this idea whilst on a Nuffield Research Placement ( working with Dr Scott Turner, University of Northampton. The project was to look into developing junkbots controlled using a Micro:bit and also to produce some materials for schools to use with or without outside assistance.

What is a Junkbot? For this project, it is a moving ‘bot’ made from waste materials, combined with an electric motor and a programmable device (in this case a Micro:Bit) to control (or try) it. An example is shown above. More details on junk…

Do it yourself: 'Radio' Controlled Micro:Bit Junkbot

In an earlier post, I showed how you could build a Micro:Bit controlled Junkbot. In this post I want to show a modification to it, to use one Micro:Bit to control the junkbot controlled by another Micro:Bit. A nice feature of the Micro:Bit using micropython, is it can send and receive simple messages via radio - so here is my take on it.

The first problem is the Python editor available on does not seem to work with the radio API. One solution to this is to change to the mu editor.

Two pieces of code are needed.

Sending Code for the 'remote' control:
Essentially it is set up to send two messages, via the built-in radio module, spinl or spinr depending on which button is pressed.

import radio
from microbit import button_a, button_b


while True:
   if button_a.is_pressed():
   if button_b.is_pressed():


Junkbot Code
This takes an adapted form of the previous Junkbot code to work by; on r…