First blog post

Welcome to the STEM Robotics blog!

Last summer in my quest to keep the kids engaged with an educational technology project I bought a 3D printer and together we learned the in’s and out’s of this really neat technology. This summer I embarked on building a simple home made Robot with them using 3D printed parts, simple low-cost servo motors used in remote-control vehicles, and a simple design I found on a 3D printing site. The project really opened my mind to ways to turn this into an educational experience for other children.

My goal is to put together a course where we will not build a kit or buy a robot and learn to program it – instead we will take part in all aspects of designing and building a robot (with hopefully only enough detail to keep them engaged and not bore the heck of out of them).

In order to reach as many kids as possible at our local elementary school, I decided to make this a 10 week course so that I could offer it 3 times a year. Within days of sending out the flyer for the first course we were full with 20 students ready to go.

A few weeks ago, I started tinkering with the original parts from the ‘MobBob‘ robot created by Kevin Chan, a game designer from Australia (thank you Kevin for inspiring me!). My goal was to produce publicly available free designs using OnShape (a browser based, cloud based killer CAD application with free account access for hobbyists and educators) as well as customize the designs for the battery pack that I will be using. For those interested, you can find the design here. After a few trial prints I was happy with the design and started to mass print so that I have 4 sets of about 6 colors of parts the kids can choose from. The students will design the one part that needs to be custom for their robot – the sleeve that holds their phone. Ok, I could have designed some clever adjustable holder or even had them use a rubber-band or double-stick tape, but the point is I wanted to give them something simple to design so they could learn and appreciate the power of Computer Aided Drafting (CAM).

I’ve bulk ordered batteries, micro-controllers, screws, and a few sets of tools for the students and parts have started to roll in from China. Its been fun to go find out what has landed in the mailbox via e-Packets other than typical bills and the kids have had a good time ripping into packages with me.

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