Adaptive Game Board
I facilitated a two hour session for teachers at the Techapalooza conference. Participants had a chance to create a sample robot and explore the programming software. Eight teachers attended the session and we discussed some implementation ideas. This was the third annual Techapalooza and it was held at California University of Pennsylvania.
I am writing you to update you on my “Arts and Bots” experience with my 8th grade art class. It was so helpful that I attended the “Educational Robotics for the Classroom” course at CMU last summer, I was able to describe my experience with my students as well as having my Ringo “Beatlebot” that I built in that class, there for my students to see as I demonstrated how the robot works . My class began the robotics project late April through the month of May 2012 until the last day of school. There were nine students, seven boys and two girls in my class. I began my introduction to robotics by defining what a robot was and the many purposes of a robot. I explained that being in an art class we would focus on a robot used for an entertainment purpose. I explained what components were included in the “robot kit” provided by CMU, including the “Hummingbird” circuit board. I also explained that the students would be using the “Visual Programmer” software to communicate the expressions and sequences used with their robot.
I instructed the students to create a robot that can make simple movements and the robot should be based on a familiar personality from popular culture. I offered the idea that my robot “Ringo” would love a reunion with his Beatle friends, Paul, George, and John and wondered if any of my students would create a new “Beatlebot”, my 12-week theme was “The Magical Mystery Tour” after all! But no such luck, my students interests focused on famous athletes in football, hockey, and basketball. Two students Mikey and Alec went with the entertainer/radio personality Howard Stern and the musician Bob Marley. Mikey enjoyed making his Howard Stern robot so much that he requested to borrow a robot kit to create new robots with over the summer. He will update me soon on what he’s accomplished. The two girls in my class created interesting robots with Carolyn making an “Oscar the Grouch” robot and Hannah recreating herself as a girls volleyball player on the South Fayette MS team. The students began by problem solving like they would in a math and/or science class. What could they create and how would it move? This planning stage took several classes and several more when the students began to build their robots. We used materials similar to the materials used in the CMU class. Foam core, exacto knives, and glue guns were used the most! What I discovered was that adults can make robots much faster than 8th grade students! The students really took their time to make the best robot they could. The students worked well alone and collaboratively, making good use of the limited time they had. I found that the technological component (the programming activity on the computer) went faster for the students and they seemed experienced with the computers and were comfortable with that aspect of our project.
Most of students created robots they were proud of. Some students didn’t have the chance to finish everything. This project thrives with a small group of students as well as a lot of time for the creativity and ingenuity to flourish.But everyone learned something. I learned that it is possible to combine art and science and create robots in the art classroom. It was a good experience and I thank you Clara and everyone at CMU for helping me and supporting me as I left my “comfort zone” to try something new!
Visual Arts Teacher
National Junior Art Honor Society Sponsor
South Fayette Middle School
The public availability of the Hummingbird Kit through BirdBrain technologies is a big step towards increasing the impact of Arts & Bots and promoting the use of robotics as tools for creative expression and exploration. We look forward to continuing to work with our wonderful partners and meeting even more educators interested in particpating in our ongoing research activities.
Since the release, Arts & Bots has been discussed by a number of news organizations, magazines and prominent blogs. We've included information on a few articles below.
Thanks to all of the educators and community partners who made this project so successful!
“It's never too early to get kids into robot building -- or so goes the thought process behind this nectar-loving kit. At its center is a custom controller that can be used to manipulate a slew of different sensors, motors and lights, a number of which are included in the box.”
On WESA 90.5 (Pittsburgh's NPR News Station):
“Teachers in any classroom can infuse robotics into commonplace arts and crafts materials to make sculptures that move, talk, and even sense objects — for example, a green cardboard dragon that chomps at any hand that gets too close, or a replica of the Star Wars robot R2D2 that slides and chirps just like its namesake. It’s meant to inject creativity into the sometimes dry process of programming robots, according to Hummingbird co-creator and Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor Illah Nourbakhsh.”
On Fast Company:
“Most educational robotics kits focus on building robots, but Hummingbird treats robotics as one element combined with craft materials and text to communicate thoughts, feelings, or ideas. […] Teachers whose students have experimented with the kit say it fosters interest in technology among students ages 11 and up.”
“Hummingbird differs from robotic kits available at toy stores where the focus is on building a specific robot; rather it comes with a control board along with lights, sensors, and motors that you use to roboticize your art project. This incorporation step is thought to make robotics more meaningful and useful to the user.”
On IEEE Spectrum:
“Now, although this is called a "kit," it's not like there's instructions that tell you what to build. It's the best kind of robot kit: the kind where you use your imagination and some creativity to build a robot of your very own. You might need some additional structural components (like cardboard), but beyond that, all it takes is a good idea to make whatever you want, which (in essence) iswhat's so great about robots in general. ”
"An educational robotics kit developed at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute is fostering an interest in technology that goes a step beyond simply putting supplied parts together."
“The Hummingbird offering from BirdBrain Technologies costs $200 and uses a drag-and-drop user interface that requires no programming experience on the part of the user. The kit (which includes components such as a controller, power supply, cables and senors) can convert artwork made from paper and cardboard into creations that move or display lights based on sensors. More elaborate creations have included a working replica of Star Wars' R2D2.”
"Children generally love to create art and are fascinated by robots, so what if there was a way for them to turn their art projects into robots? Well, there is. [...]Unlike some other educational robotics kits, in which people simply follow instructions to build a specific robot, Hummingbird is intended to foster a DIY spirit in its users."
"It's amazing to think about students becoming this familiar with the functions of and potential for technology. Students can learn how electronics can sense what's happening in the environment and react to it, and as the kit is tied in to crafts and imagination, who knows what creative and helpful ideas will come out of classroom projects. The Hummingbird kit seems like an amazing tool for teaching our next generation of scientists, and inspiring creative uses for what technology is available. It'd be great to see a school host a science faire themed on technology helping the environment, using Hummingbird kits!"
"Hummingbird is an educational kit that allows children or adults to turn their lovely arts or crafts into a functional robot within hours. This excellent stuff was developed byBirdBrain Technologies, a spinoff company of Carnegie Mellon University. The goal of this invention is to make the children to develop technologies rather than using it."
Original CMU Press Release:
"The results often amount to kinetic sculptures that use sensors to detect changes in their environment and respond with movement and/or light displays. A cardboard dragon that turns its head and tries to bite anyone who comes close is one example. Students in West Virginia built a working replica of Star Wars' R2D2."
Sue Mellon, Gifted Support Coordinator in the Allegheny Valley School District integrated Arts & Bots into 7th and 8th grade Language Arts classes. The project served as a culminating activity for a poetry unit, giving students an exciting anchor for the unit, and allowing them to practice their poetry analysis skills. Students worked in teams to analyze a poem and then create a scene or a billboard display for their poem.
Grass by Carl Sanburg
"I learned that even though programming looks difficult it is actually easier than it seems."
A Drop Fell on the Apple Tree by Emily Dickinson
"I thought programming was really easy then I realized it takes a lot of timing and work to put everything together."
The Human Seasons by John Keats
"It doesn't take a genius to do robotics."
"I'm happy that art can be intergrated into robotics."
El Dorado by Edgar Allan Poe
"Communication is key when working as a team."
"Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses."
The Pasture by Robert Frost
"Poetry can sometimes be hard to understand but using robotics and giving you a visual can help you understand it."
The Sun Has Long Been Set by William Wordsworth
"I learned how the robotics can relate to poetry."
Design by Robert Frost
"It takes dedication not necessarily a level of smartness to understand the robots."
"Programming is very challenging but once you get use to it, its easy."
Bright Star by John Keats
"I learned that poems can be brought to life off the paper."
Educators talk and show off the robots they built while at a training session. They describe their challenges with the robots and possible uses for Arts & Bots in their curriculum.