This Workshop took place on 24th January 2017.
The RoboSlam project is a DIT School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering STEM education outreach initiative in which many primary and secondary schools in Ireland have participated. It aims to inspire a new generation of engineers. I myself am an engineering student in DIT, currently studying Electrical Engineering (DT009). I recently traveled to my other home country the Philippines for a short holiday. As part of my trip, I got in touch with an old classmate (Charis Go) who is now the president of the school I attended for the first two years of secondary school. We talked over Facebook about programming and robotics in education, which I have some experience of from my college programme, including modules on RoboSumo and Robotics and volunteering as a facilitator at RoboSlam workshops.
After getting in touch with Ted Burke and Damon Berry who coordinate the RoboSlam Project, I secured two RoboSlam kits*. I then organized a day with Charis at Berkeley School in Baguio City.
Each RoboSlam Kit has a cost price of €15 – €20, which is roughly equivalent of 800-100o Philippine Pesos (depending on the currency rate).
Berkeley is a relatively young private school that has recently launched a new educational program for Grade 11 & 12 students (which only was installed into the Filipino Education system in the last few years). The STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) program aims to help students have a better understanding of STEM-related courses before entering third level education. There are other streams of education that students can choose to enter into, but in this blog I will focus on the STEM programme.
As an engineering student, I tend to reflect on certain things I wished I had learned earlier or technologies I wished I had been exposed to at a younger age, such as coding, electronics, and robotics. By bringing the kits to Charis in Berkeley, I’m hoping it might inspire teenagers who are interested in one day doing STEM-related courses that they should consider engineering. Of course, I don’t know whether RoboSumo will be implemented in this programme, but I just wanted to show the school’s president how simple and affordable it can be to build a robot.
After meeting Charis for the first time in 8 years, we did some catching up and toured some of the new facilities of the school which had not been completed at the time. I found out that not much had changed, but it was nice to see the full school being closer to completion and experiencing large student growth numbers. It felt good to be in a creatively shaped building once again.
The Fun Part (Building The Robot)
Thanks to the online resources found on the RoboSlam website that Ted Burke, Damon Berry, Shannon Chance and Frank Duigan have developed, Charis just simply followed the instructions (which are available here). Most of the time, I supervised Charis with building her robot, while giving her advice and assistance whenever she found anything difficult or unclear.
We named the robot “Berkeley 01”. Unfortunately, the rubber bands we tried to put onto the wheels did not stay on, which meant that the plastic wheels were prone to slipping while rotating. We therefore used some double sided tape that was on hand to increase wheel traction. However, as you will see in the video below, it tended to move the paper which was the only white surface available to us. At least it helped us think about the design of future bots.
Hopefully, I’ll be back again soon to do this little workshop with a larger group of students and a bit of RoboSumo!
* Special thanks to the RoboSlam Project at DIT School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering for providing these kits.