Mini-Project Ideas: Inspired by SNAKE ROBOTS at CMU - Zee Ann Poerio

At Carnegie Mellon University,  Snake Robots have been designed and engineered to perform tasks which benefit humans in many ways.  Looking to nature for inspiration, influence, and problem solving, engineers have designed some of the robots’ movements from those of real snakes.  And new “gaits” are being developed for the snake robots beyond what mother nature intended for snake locomotion. The robotic snakes are able to move through pipes, climb poles, and even thread their way through rubble after a disaster to assist in search and rescue.  Now, smaller versions are being engineering to assist with a less invasive form of heart surgery.   

My inspiration for the mini porject comes from a small snakebot that was in the lab  with a model of a human heart.  Learning that the robotic snakes were now being used in medicine reminded me of the common symbol associated with medicine - the snake entwined staff of Asclepius, Greek god of medicine and healing.

Mini-Project inspired by a visit with SNAKE ROBOTS: STAFF of ASCLEPIUS ROBOT DIARY

Student s will research snakes and using the Robot Diaries kits will create their own robotic staff of Asclepius.  Students can choose the species of snake of their choice to depict on the staff.  The robot should include two servos, and at least two lights and at least one sound effect.   The student will read his/her presentation from the point of view of the snake and coordinate the animations with their presentation which will includes the species, diet, how the snake moves, typical size and weight, and  lifespan. The snake itself should represent the snake’s true color and markings.  Additional information can include other interesting facts about snakes (not all snakes have fangs), symbolism of snakes (ex. Biblical references or snake images in ancient or modern times), a joke about snakes (What is a snake’s favorite subject?  Hiss-tory!), or a retelling of one of Aesop’s fables which include snakes.

Zee Ann Poerio

A Model of Arm Muscles - Terry Richards


This is a model of the right arm bones showing the humerus, radius, ulna, and wrist.  Attached to the model are "muscles" involved in the functions of extension and flexion of the arm at the elbow and the flexion and extension of the wrist.  The muscles are made from strips of pantyhose or red craft foam.  "Tendons" made from rubber bands connect the muscles to the bones at the various attachment points (origin and insertion).  Further testing of the muscle materials will be done. 



Terry Richards

The Ellis School

Beatlebot "Ringo" video - Diane Lally


Ringo is playing the drums and moving his head simultaneously. I would like to add music and more sequenced movements in the future.Possible songs could be "Yellow Submarine" or "Octopus's Garden". This "Beatlebot" will be something I can use when teaching my middle school students with the 12-week Beatlesongs theme.


Diane Lally

Concept Exploration & Concept Mapping - Rob Ruddle

Five Integration Ideas for the Robot Diaries Materials
By: Rob Ruddle

1. Poe-Bots

The students will create a robotic reenactment of an Edgar Allen Poe work. The teacher can limit the works that can be chosen. This could be done solo or in groups of two. This idea could also be applied to the works of Shakespeare and others.

2. Debate of Current Events

The students will work with a partner to perform a debate about a current event. Their robots will act out emotions to accompany their arguments in an attempt to convince the rest of the class to side with them.

3. Anchor-bot

The students will create a robot that represents a news anchor. The news anchor will introduce a new scientific or technological breakthrough (within the past year). The news story should talk about the background behind the breakthrough, the current effect, and the potential future impacts.

4. Talk Show

Students will work with a partner to create a robotic host and interviewee. The interviewee will be a person from American History (the teacher can provide a list). The host will ask questions and the interviewee will answer the way the person probably would have answered.


5. Angles

Students will create a robotic device that teaches about angles. The device should be able to show congruency, supplementary angles, and complimentary angles. The students can then use their devices to teach younger students about angles.

Concept Exploration & Concept Mapping for the Science Classroom - Erin Hopkins

            One of the projects students complete in my chemistry class is a challenge to design a device that would help improve our environment. In doing so, students choose between three themes: air quality, water quality, and food production. Last year, students had to create a model of their device and present it to the class. With Robot Diaries, students could design a robot that improves the air quality, water quality, or food production. Their robot could serve as a model of what the actual device would look like and how it would perform a desired task.  This design challenge would force students to problem solve while learning about the chemicals that pollute our air and water and the factors that influence food production. This project would be cross-curricular because students would be required to study chemistry, biology, English, and technology.  Students would need to conduct research to learn about the chemicals that are polluting our air/water or the chemicals involved in food production. Students would also need to figure out how those chemicals impact our environment. Finally, students will use technology to design and build a model to demonstrate their design for a device that will improve the air quality, water quality, or food production.


            Another project students complete in my chemistry course is a timeline of the scientists who were the major contributors to the discovery of the atom and the invention of the periodic table of elements. Each student in the class is assigned a different scientist and must teach the class about that scientist and his or her contributions to the discovery of the atom or the invention of the periodic table of elements. Students present in chronological order and place a picture of their scientist on a timeline hanging on a wall in the classroom. With the help of Robot Diaries, students could design a robot of the scientists they are researching and have the robot tell speak to the class as if they were the scientist assigned to the student. This project would provide students with an interesting way of learning about the scientists that shaped the study of chemistry. Robot Diaries will also provide a cross-curricular project involving chemistry, history, English, and technology.


            In my biology class, students will study human organ systems, so students could create a robot that demonstrates how one of those systems functions. For example, if a student was assigned the digestive system, the student could design and create a model of the digestive system that illustrates all of the organs and their function using Robot Diaries. This task would require a lot of research and creativity and would offer a new, more exciting way to learn about the human body. In order to create a model of an organ system, students would need to research their assigned organ system and understand how each organ interacts with the other organs in the organ system. In doing so, students will need to study anatomy, biology, chemistry, and technology. This project will not only inspire students to become more involved in their learning but it would provide a more accurate, 3D representation of how the organ system looks and functions.


            In chemistry, students will be learning about the gas laws, so they could use the Robot Diaries to design a robotic device that illustrates one of the gas laws. Usually students work with online simulations to observe the gas laws, but this project could offer a 3 dimensional representation of each gas law that will require an in-depth understanding of a gas law in order for the student to present their model to the class and illustrate how one of the gas laws can be illustrated in real life situations. Students would need to research the gas laws and apply that knowledge of their assigned gas law to design and create a robotic device that would explain a phenomenon that occurs in real life as a result of one of the gas laws. This project will be cross-curricular because it will involve the study of chemistry, technology, and physics concepts. Students will benefit from this project because it will require scientific application of chemistry concepts to real-life situations in a hands-on experience.


            In chemistry, students learn about the periodic table of elements as a tool to scientists. In doing so, students completed a projected where they were asked to choose an element from the periodic table and explain who discovered the element, its atomic structure, and its uses. This project could be adapted using Robot Diaries by asking students to create a robotic model of an element’s atomic structure. Students could illustrate the element at the atomic level, showing the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons and where they appear in the atom. This project would provide students with an in-depth understanding of the structure of an atom and how to use the periodic table to deduce the atomic structure of a particular element. This cross-curricular assignment would involve the following subject matter: chemistry, history, and physics.


Post by Erin Hopkins