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Showing posts from 2011

Junkbots in Irchester

The lego robots used in the Junkbots work were recently taken to Irchester Community Primary School as part of their Jobs in Science Week.

The students programmed the robots (using a real programming language Java) using a choice of four commands to make the robots do a dance of their own design.

From more details about the Lab_13 activities:

Lego and 'Junk' - new Junkbot

A lego controlled junkbot has been produced, Hayley Stevenson has produced a walking model from straws and cotton. Together we combined this with two motors from LEGO NXT set and wrote some java code to get it to move. More details can be found at: including video of it working.

This has new junkbot is very much in-line with the ideas behind the projects, combining engineering, waste and computing to produce something new.

Junkbots goes to Guilsbourough School

The junkbots activities were carried out in four one hour sessions at Guilsborough School, Northamptonshire.

Pictures from the event:

New site for Junkbots

Award for Junkbots

The University of Northampton has recently recognised the work on the Junkbot project with an award for achievement for Volunteering at the Volunteering awards ceremony.

More details can be found at:

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 (well I think so any way).
He has presented a very interesting talk on the TED site shown above. He presents this all in a passionate and entertaining way, well worth having a look at.

More details of his work can be found by clicking on here.

...junkbots continues

The funding may have unfortunately stopped but the activities continue. On 30th March the Junkbots activities return to Brooke Weston School.

The students had to build a 'junkbot' from initially a motor and propeller and any 'junk' that was around. There were three tasks.
1. The junkbot had to get a can across a line.
2. Similar to the previous activity but this time as well as the can there was other junk (bottle tops and some small steel bits) away from the can. These also had to be transferred across the line.
3. To make the junkbots steerable.

It was never the intention that all the tasks were achieved in the time, but the student's tried out their own groups ideas with little input from the tutors.

Some very innovative results were produced.

Thank you to Mr Nigel Barratt for inviting me back and supporting the activities.

Teacher Mr Barrett said: ‘The students just got on with it and devised the models themselves. They experimented all the way through. It was three an…

CEISE2011 paper: Junkbots

An abstract from the 7th China – Europe International Symposium on Software Industry Orientated Education to be held 23-24th May 2011 at School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton, UK. For more details can be found at this link.
Junkbots Scott Turner School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton, Northampton, NN2 6JD
Abstract: The School of Science and Technology at the University of Northampton have been working with local schools to create robots made from junk and also to use robots programmed by the students to perform simple rubbish clearing exercises. This is an initiative by the University to introduce environmental sustainability, engineering and computing to students in schools. This paper focuses on the programming part of the project, providing reflections on the activities.

A new era for junkbots

The funding for the junkbots project has now come to an end.So what were the outcomes.

Figure 1 shows how the overall score for the whole project. Overall the student were satisfied/ok (around 3) or more than satisfied ( 4 or 5). There seems to be a linkage between the junkbot building exercises and the overall satisfaction ratings. Programming on the whole had slightly lower satisfaction scores but ok scores.

Figure 2 shows scores for the overall project for each school. Overall as mentioned previous the response is very positive (all the results were 89% or higher 3,4, or 5 ratings). There were variations in the level of satisfaction. The school were students were selected the student's based on ability or interest tended to have satisfaction scores that were higher.Does this mean the approaches are more suited to the gifted and talented. Probably not as the satisfaction scores were reasonable for all the schools.

Figure 3 shows  the ratings for the junkbot building activity alon…

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.

At the start of the day most of the students had not previously programmed a robot or (knowingly) a computer.

The first task was to get the robot to collect some rubbish and push it over a line and then move back to the another line. All groups programmed the robot to do this and some groups add a sweeper to the front of the robot to push several items at once across the line.

The second task was to get the robot to collect the rubbish this time, but without adding any attachments to the front of the robot. Several groups successfully did this, by programming the robot to follow a path that collected the rubbish (drinks cans) and put them behind the line.

The third and fourth tasks involved the use of a sensor:
-To build the robot that did not move unless there was a can in front of the robot.
-To build a robot that went around the can when it detect…

Huxlow Part 1:waste management activities and turning junk into junkbots

The first half (waste management activities and turning junk into robots) on the junkbots project has been carried out at Huxlow Science College on 15th February 2011.

Some interesting designs were produced for junkbots that could clear up a range of 'rubbish'. These included:
- one based around a milk carton, wheels and propellor at the back that was very quick.It included a scoop at the front to sweep up rubbish as it went.(see figures 1 and 2).

 - one based around a bottle with legs that vibrated along. This one included a magnet at the back that could pick up small metal items(figure 3,4 and 5)

-A third one included a scoop that designed to scoop up the rubbish as it moved forward.

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 - shaking its way around. The vibration makes the junkbot move but it is not controllable.
The 'homemade' nature of creating wheels and axles, and without direct drive usually lead to the junkbots based around wheels not moving easily (it was different when wheeled toys were used instead). Homemade 'legs' though did often work. 
Here are some examples:
The first one used a drinks bottle and legs and was capable of carrying a can on its 'back'.
The second used a tripod arrangement of legs.

Remember though – keep the weight down, extra decoration is fun but usually lead to slower junkbots (or in some cases stationary junkbots).