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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 detected it.

Some of these students went from never programming to programming robots that could react to objects all in one day.

Feedback from this group for the junkbots activity (figure 1)  and the lego robot (figure 2) activities was generally good. Thank you to all those who took part.

Figure 1: Junkbot activity (Day 1)

Figure 2: Lego Robots (Day 2)

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A new direction has been developed for the junkbot project (; previously Raspberry Pis have been used to control the junkbot’s movement ( – but what about the recently released Micro:Bits; can it be used to control a junkbot?
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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

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 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


while True:
   if button_a.is_pressed():
   if button_b.is_pressed():


Junkbot Code
This takes an adapted form of the previous Junkbot code to work by; on r…