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TPiB: Bristlebots, take II (or what happens when you give teens space to be creative)

Since the SRC was science themed this year, Christie and I knew that we wanted to do a small robot program. We did a lot of research and came up with some various ideas, but ultimately we decided to do these small robots called Bristlebots or Brushbots. It turned out there were pre-made kits you could buy so we did that.

56f92 bots2 TPiB: Bristlebots, take II (or what happens when you give teens space to be creative)

The day before my program I put a sample together to make sure that I would know how to do it with my tweens and teens. As a general rule, I try to avoid embarrassing myself in front of them. I’m not saying it never happens, I’m just saying that in this particular instance I thought putting a demo together was a good idea. One of the things I discovered was that putting the bots together wouldn’t take much time at all. But I had my Lego Makerspace so I figured we could spend the rest of the time building racing courses and letting the teens race their bots.

The day of the program, these teens genuinely surprised me. Instead of building tracks, they began doing little experiments of their own. One kid used a mini-figurine and his bot motor to see if he could get the person to move. Another built a horse and did the same. They take a concept and ran with it.

fb032 bots3 TPiB: Bristlebots, take II (or what happens when you give teens space to be creative)

Then they started building cars using Legos and their bot motors to race. This meant they had to experiment a lot because whether or not the car would move depended on things like design, size, and the size of the motor/battery from the bot. For bigger cars, they tried using two motors, which didn’t work as well. But they could make a variety of smaller cars, use their brush bot motors, and race.

b8243 bots1 TPiB: Bristlebots, take II (or what happens when you give teens space to be creative)
be682 bots4 TPiB: Bristlebots, take II (or what happens when you give teens space to be creative)

And as they built race tracks, they found that they had to consider things like how to round the corners so that the bots didn’t get stuck in them.

b87c1 bots6 TPiB: Bristlebots, take II (or what happens when you give teens space to be creative)
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CqgPcy9QJU]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbFjbSk8xOc]

And the beauty of it is that it all came from them. I gave them free reign and they allowed their minds to take them places I would never have thought of. I was very impressed and the take away for me is that in our programming sometimes it’s a great idea to leave space for creativity; we can try and control the program, or we can be open to allowing the program to go in new directions and surprise us all.

Comments

  1. Jane says:

    This is great…we're doing similar “stuff” and with the Lego racetracks as well. I love that the kids surprise me all the time.

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