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National Robotics Week 2013

robotFrom regional FIRST Robotics competitions to a day of special events at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the country will mark National Robotics Week April 6 – 14 with a host of engaging, hands-on activities. Find activities in your area.

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Activity: Robot Basketball

basketball robotIn this activity, students in grades 5 to 12 learn about accuracy, precision, and simple machines by working in teams to design and build a robotic basketball “player” that can nail a free-throw shot three times in a row.

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Berkeley Engineers Help Student Walk

UC-Berkeley Student Austin Whitney Graduates with ExoskeletonWhen University of California, Berkeley senior Austin Whitney walked across the stage at graduation on May 14, 2011, it was more than just a personal triumph. His rise from a wheelchair represented a triumph for paralyzed people everywhere–and for engineers whose “adaptive technology” designs have helped disabled individuals overcome mobility limitations.

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Feature: Here a Bot, There a Bot

AgribotEver since Virginia inventor Cyrus McCormick perfected the mechanical reaper in the 1830s, engineers have sought ways to grow more food using fewer people. Now, they’re close to taking Old MacDonald off the farm altogether. Meet the agribot, already in use harvesting hard-to-pick edibles.

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Elite STEM Teacher Corps Proposed

STEM Teacher CorpsA Capitol Hill proposal would create a Master Teacher Corps of the nation’s top STEM teachers, who would guide younger and less effective instructors. They would get extra pay, with more money going to those teaching at high-need public schools.

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1, 2, Robot Hands Please Tie My Shoe

ShoelacesIn this activity, students will explore how sensing is part of robotics by tying their shoes with different constraints. After lacing their shoes normally, try it wearing thick gloves or with popsicle sticks taped to fingers so they can’t bend. Can students tie their shoes now? A connection is made to the limitations of the motion of robots, and to the role of design in allowing robots to perform different functions.

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Mars Rover Races

RoverIn this activity, students will learn the challenges of operating a robotic rover on the distant Red Planet and solve problems through a hands-on simulation. After trying to navigate an obstacle course blindfolded and guided only by verbal commands, students will discover that tooling around Mars is no simple joy-stick ride.

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Feature: Ready, Set, Roll Out the Robots!

The Day the Earth Stood StillWhat’s not to love about robots? They explore space, conduct surgery, and inspire movie fans and aspiring engineers alike. The second annual National Robotics Week rolls out April 9. What is your school doing to celebrate?

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Students Build Hybrid Maglev

Maglev ShanghaiWhat do you call a design problem that includes a futuristic twist and extreme deadline pressure? One of Project Lead the Way’s most daunting–and engaging–challenges, as Pennsylvania students discovered at a recent competition to create a maglev vehicle in just 2.5 hours using only a laptop, bag of parts and their wits.

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