Skip to main content

Dancing robots

For the last few months at lot of the outreach work from the Junkbots project was focused on the exercises based around turning cans into drawing bots or junk clearing bots. Yesterday (21st June 2012) the robot programming side of the project was trialled with primary schools.

The Northamptonshire based Nene Lakes Extended Services ran "Chemistry at Work Day" event hosted by Scott Bader, Wollaston and the robot programming was also included as well. The programming idea, an off-shoot of the junkbots project, was for the students to programming an NXT Lego robot to dance using only four commands that allowed the robot to:

  • go forward for so many centimetres
  • go back for so many centimetres
  • go turn right for so many degrees
  • go turn left for so many degrees

The structure of the activity was

  1. up to 5 minutes introduction to the activity
  2. up to 10 minutes as a group of usually up seven; design a dance routine of no more than four moves
  3. up to 10 minutes putting the routine on to the robot using a template Java program 
  4. up to 10 minutes testing the routine; redesign the routine with up to eight moves, repeat 3
  5. remaining time involves forming a large circle putting the groups robot in the centre and watching them preform and saying which is the best and why.
When the instructions are being entered into the computer, the facilitator does the first one and then the students add the remaining instructions themselves and decide which instruction to use, and the first student tells then next student how to do it and so on. The facilitator does the compiling and uploading to the robot largely for speed.


Because of a limited access to the computer to program the robots an extra activity was incorporated - one person reading out the instructions one by one and then one or more members of the group acting out the actions.

Objectives aimed for

  • they can write and design programs;
  • STEM is fun;
  • robots are fun;


Lessons learn by the facilitator - it would be much easier if there was two facilitators!



If you would like to know more about the Junkbots project contact scott.turner@northampton.ac.uk

Popular posts from this blog

Blog usage statistics

Popular posts

How to build junkbots: Old toys In a previous blog entry the idea of using drinks can and an unbalanced motor was discussed. but what else have the projects participants t... How to build junkbots: Drinks can, unbalanced motor The junkbots project has now being running for 18 months in Northamptonshire, UK. But how have the junkbots being built? A video produced by... How to build junkbots: Wheels don’t always work well Back to the main approach, simplest way and probably the quickest:- A body (drinks can and drinks bottles usually) and an unbalanced motor -... Huxlow Pt 2: Lego Robots  The second half (programming lego robots) on the junkbots project has been carried out at  Huxlow Science College  on 28th February 2011. ... Toys from trash Arvind Gupta has produced a lot of work on turning junk into toys that aim to demonstrate the engineering ideas in an very interesting (wel... Brooke Weston Event Students at Brooke Weston School, Corby have been working with the University of N…

Controlling a junkbot with a Micro:bit

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…