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Finished Robot with Attached Lego Parts

Lego and Robot


by Brady Fukumoto, Josh Chan, and Brian Young

Video Clips of Manufacturing Process

YouTube Video: How to make a Robot (Part 1)

YouTube Video: How to make a Robot (Part 2)

YouTube Video: How to make a Robot (Part 3)

Robot Glamour Shots

We prototyped the robot head with cardboard first, which you can see in the picture above (atop the final acrylic head).

The finished robot with Lego parts attached using acrylic cement. We learned that acrylic cement/glue behaves quite differently compared to regular glue. For one, the acrylic glue we used was much more fluid that regular viscous glue, and we had some trouble getting the glue to seep and stay where we wanted it to. We found that using gravity as a guide helped a lot. Of course, our methods were not perfect and some of the cement did dribble down the sides, which unfortunately disfigured some of the sides (we prefer to think of them as intentional battle scars).

Rowing Boat 1

Making the green screen color exercise more relevant to children


After hearing Dor’s talk last Friday, I have some suggestions for making the green screen color exercise more relevant to children.

Dor mentioned that the hands of the children often subconsciously “learned” the proportion concept before their brains could. Furthermore, children had difficulty explaining the green screen phenomenon using height, length and distance between their hands. I wonder if this is due to the abstract nature of the exercise. Incorporating proportion examples from real life may solve these issues.

We can use the sensors to simulate real-life tasks such as rowing a boat with oars. As the child interacts with the sensors, he’ll learn that the higher he lifts the sensor, the faster the boat travels. He will also notice that the difference in height between the two sensors actually determines the direction of the boat. The concept of speed and angles in relation to proportion can also be demonstrated. One of the tasks can be for children to figure out the proportion needed to reach the island marked with an “X”. To make the exercise more compelling, it can be done in first person view. From this exercise, the child will learn the actual implication and practical application of mathematical proportions.

Some of the Wii games like Wii Sports are already simulating real life activities. Take archery for example, one can demonstrate that the amount of bowstring pulled is proportional to the distance traveled by the arrow. By adding a grid pattern or a number line for visual aid, one can create learning exercises that are based on these game concepts. Children learn concepts much quicker when they can see the relevance in the learning.


Designing a Giant Robot!


by Josh Chan, Brady Fukumoto, and Brian Young

Our brainstorming session with Adrien revealed that he was especially interested in Legos and robots. After deciding that he most wanted a robot to play with, we began getting a better idea of the specifics he wanted. Some characteristics Adrien described for his ideal robot were that it could move, have weird ears, and be mostly dark green (except for some blue features). We also agreed that the robot would have movable arms, as well as the ability to move when pushed. For the latter function, we agreed to devise some wheels on the robot’s feet for motion. When asked about the height, Adrien mentioned something in the 6-8 ft. range. After some discussion, we dialed that down to a more manageable 1-2 ft. range. Adrien also mentioned his ideal robot being able to fly, but we’re not so sure about that particular request…


Our Meeting with Adrien (8 years old)
Password: atoms

Robot Sketch #1: A robot that looks like it is make out of blocks

Robot Sketch #2: Characters inspired from Nickelodeon TV show

Robot Sketch #3: Blue and Green Robot (7 feet tall)

Adrien also enjoys playing with Legos. We decided to incorporate this aspect of his playing by building connection points (perhaps on the robot’s arms, legs and torso) that would allow Lego components to be built and then attached to the robot.

A list of things that Adrien would like to see in the robot toy

Prototype Sketch

We drew a quick prototype sketch to flesh out possible methods for creating this 2 feet tall robot.  We would like to first try creating the robot arm with paper cardboard using the laser cutter.  If successful, we’ll move on to acrylic pieces.  We also need to figure out a way to connect the robot arms and legs to the body but still allowing the joints to move freely.

What’s the big idea?


So what is all this hullabaloo on idea generation and constructionism?  Pappert argued that students do not have the proper tools to realize the big ideas in their heads.  Therefore ideas stay dormant while learning becomes boring and irrelevant.  The constructionist approach to learning coupled with the use of computers has the potential to overcome this problem.

When it comes to the use of computers, people often mention benefits like immersive learning environment, flexibility in learning experience, and social networking, etc.  I feel that the best aspect about learning on a computer or rather programming with a computer is that the learning process is designed to allow for mistakes.  Since the cost of making a  mistake is relatively low, students are encouraged to try things that they normally won’t.  It encourages the trial and error approach where students can quickly iterate on solutions for their ideas.

Compared to traditional classroom learning where it is bounded by class time and requires students to conform to standards, computer programming encourages students to learn on their own and allows for a wide variety of solutions to the same problem.  It also encourages the “build it yourself” mentality, acting as a virtual lego set that students can use to solve real world problems.

Rather than simply promoting the act of learning computer programming, Pappert is making a plead for creating a different kind of student: one who can make mistakes and learn from them, understand the connections between seemingly unrelated things, and actually change ideas to reality.

Brian's Toy Collection Graphic 1

Robots, Model Kits, and Toys!


Ever since childhood, I’ve been fascinated with robot models and puzzles.  I enjoy the construction and deconstruction process while playing with these toys.  Similar to IKEA self-service furniture, there are numerous plastic part that are used to construct the robot models.  I’m constantly amazed that how all the plastic pieces can fit perfectly.  It’s great satisfaction for me to see objects fitting or working together in harmony.  Even more amazing for me is that the toy designer was able to package an entire entertainment (and learning) experience into these plastic pieces, offering activities in construction, play, and object display.  Over time, I’ve developed an appreciation for the form, function, and user experience of different objects.

I especially enjoy transformable toys that are intricately constructed.   When I was young, I loved playing with Transformers and Gobots.  I’ve even made paper airplanes that could transform into a ruler, a robot, a sword, etc.  I was super excited when I received my first Swiss army knife.  The mystique of having an object that served multiple purposes intrigued me.

I’ve made an unconscious behavior switch from playing with physical toys to electronic toys when the Nintendo family entertainment system was introduced, changing my play pattern from interacting with many physical objects to a single machine.  Despite the limited controls and rudimentary graphics, the Nintendo game system was able to offer me a wide range of experiences and emotions.  From that point onwards, I’ve simply been migrating from one system to another, moving from Nintendo to Super Nintendo, etc. all the way to the iPhone I have in my pocket today.  Who knows, maybe I’ll soon be able to surf the web on my glasses using brain waves alone.

Brian's Toy Collection Graphic 1

Figure 1: Saint Seiya action figures, Playmobil, pull back cars, and transformable stationary sets.

Brian's Toy Collection Graphic 2

Figure 2: Robot model kits (Gundams), transformers, and Gobots.

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