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Student Feedback from Brooke Weston

Thank you to the students and staff at Brooke Weston School, Corby, UK for working with us on this project. Here are some of the comments made by the students.

Several of the students identified some interesting features about building robots out of 'junk':
"We had the [f]reedom to show the teachers what skills we have" (Student B)
"interesting overall" (Student H)
"...but frustrating because modifications were frequent" (Student J)
"The activity was very fun and creative. We experience lots of difficulties to overcome." (Student K)
"it was nice have time off timetable once in a while" (Student N)
"I found that building the junk bots has made me some new friends..." (Student T)
"...as we[ we]re able to put any ideas forward to put ideas forward to create our own creation" (Student V)

The programming of the robots caused a differences in opinion which seemed to come down to two main factors, that there was only one robot per group and having to learn a challenging new skill (programming):
"Didn't get much of a go on this one" (Students D, E)
"this was good however I didn't get to to do a lot" (Student F)
"Really enjoyed it" (Student G)
"It was really good and the amount I have learnt about Java is incredible" (Student J)
"This activity was fun but very fustrating if the program wasn't going well" (Student L)
"We didn't actually get much of a go on this one because we had to plan the presentation" (Student O)
"It was cool because we could program them" (Student Q)
"It was good being the programmer" (student R)

Waste Management like the programming of the robots caused some variation in feedback:
"Lots of information which was useful..."(Student B)
"Very informative but could have been a bit more fun" (Student I)
"I learnt a lot and calculating my carbon footprint was great" (Student J)
"This was different and you found out facts" (Student P)
"I learnt about [Eco] stuff" (Student S)
"I found the waste management activity helpf[ul] because it showed me the truth of what we could do to help the earth" (Student T)
"I liked the presentation we were given...interesting facts which we will remember a long time" (Student V)
"I learnt a lot from this. I enjoyed planning a campaign and the statistics were revealing" (Student W)


On the project overall the feedback was very positive
"The whole project was really fun and I enjoyed it lots and I liked making the robots the most" (Student A)
"The project as a whole was very fun and I learnt many different skills." (Student C)
"It was fun because I learnt about carbon emissions and the stuff you need to do the robot" (Student M)
"Overall it was very fun yet informative" (Student R)
"The junkbots project was great! It was a great way to teach us more about science, technology, engineering and maths. I also think it improved our problem solving skills. " (Student W)

Some pictures of the activities in action can be found at http://www.brookeweston.org/Home/Galleries/Gallery.aspx?id=132


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A new direction has been developed for the junkbot project (http://junkbots.blogspot.co.uk/); previously Raspberry Pis have been used to control the junkbot’s movement (http://robotsandphysicalcomputing.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/python-junkbot.html) – 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 (http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/nuffield-research-placements) 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

I
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 https://www.microbit.co.uk/ 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

radio.on()

while True:
   if button_a.is_pressed():
       radio.send('spinl')
   if button_b.is_pressed():

       radio.send('spinr')

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