Squishy Circuits and Hummingbird

Squishy circuits are circuits made from conductive playdough! It's a fabulous way of allowing young kids to safely create circuits with a material they are familiar with. I met Matt Schmidtbauer of the Squishy Circuits Store at a conference in October and took home their$25 kit of LEDs, motors, and buzzers. I just finished a tutorial on how to connect the elements of the kit to Hummingbird, so for your next project consider making up a batch of conductive dough, sticking some LEDs in it, and controlling them via your computer through Hummingbird.

Video and written resources can be found at:http://www.hummingbirdkit.com/?q=content%2Fsquishy-circuits-tutorial

-Tom Lauwers

Arts and Bots-Barboursville Middle School Math Class

Doug Force's, math teacher at Barboursville Middle School in Barboursville, West Virginia accepted the challenge to inject robotics into his curriculum first semester of the 2012-2013 school year. His students used everyday household items to make robots. Once their robots were created, their challenge was to find what they did that pertained to mathematics. Other questions asked were as follows :

1. How do I make something happen on my robot when I get close to it?

2. How do I make a purple strobe light?

3. How do I make something move on my robot?

4.  What is unique about my robot? 

5.  What have I learned from this experience?

Students and their parents brought their robots to teachers' Arts and Bots follow- up meeting this week on Marshall's campus to share them with pre-service and in-service teachers. 

Thanks for the support from Benedum Foudation, next semester, Doug will continue to use Arts and Bots with a new group of students and we look forward to seeing more creative robots!

Mrs. Lally Presents at the Regional Arts Education Day

On Monday, October 8, 2012, Mrs. Lally led and presented three “breakout sessions” for the Arts Education Collaborative Regional Arts Education Day   held at South Fayette High School. The session “From Process to Product: The Art Classroom as Robotics Lab”  focused on the experience of participating in the 2011 summer class “Educational Robotics for the Classroom” held at Carnegie-Mellon University, then converting the knowledge and training to creating and teaching a lesson in robot-making and maneuvering in an 8th grade classroom at South Fayette Middle School. In May 2012, nine eight grade students took part in this project. Participants were able to see a demonstration of the “Beatlebot” Ringo, as well as video footage and photographs showing the students in the process of designing and operating their robots. 

Diane Lally - Art Teacher from South Fayette Middle School

Arts & Bots Workshop Wrap-up

Thanks to everyone who participated in the September 10, 2012 Arts & Bots workshop, it was a successful and inspiring evening. Participants included twenty-one educators from 10 school districts, a group from the Carnegie Science Center, and The Literary Arts Boom. They all built and programed robots inspired by the topic of library, as September is library card sign-up month. Many robots were created can be seen below.


"I enjoyed the creativity the most"



"I think this would be much more appealing to girls than your standard robot kit"


"I usually as an adult I am use to doing things I know how to do, I knew coming here that this is not in my skill set but I did something... so I do feel really good about it and it was a different experience."



Book Bot

"I think you could bring that same kind of spirit of tinkering and inovation and tie it into what you are learning in the course of the day"


Jingle Bot

"The concepts that go into building any type of robots offer really useful skills in terms of math as well has teamwork, because a lot of work with robots is how to put together different skills to make one robot"



"This project makes my mind go in a million different directions with what I can create"




Social Studies Mini Projects

When I Grow Up

Grades :4-5
Subjects: Technology, Civics
Students develop a robotic model that represents a career or occupation they are interested in.  The model must accurately describe the profession's main duties and provide background information on how to pursue the selected occupation.

Historical Animatronics
Grades : 5-6
Subjects: Technology, History
Students develop a robotic character(s) that will tell the technological evolution of a selected technological artifact.  Students will research significant inventions throughout history and how technological evolution through innovations has made the devices what they are today.  The character will then tell the story of the technological artifact.

Branches of Government
Grades: Middle School
Subject: Government
Students would have a wide range of freedom with this assignment. The criteria would simply be that their representation had to speak specifically about one of the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative, or Judicial -- and potentially about the media). The robot would need communicate two different functions of the branch it is depicting. A potential project could include a judge with a gavel declaring a law unconstitutional in one sequence and sentencing a criminal to prison in another. This robot would be completed in close collaboration with a government teacher.

Historical Hero's
Grades: Middle School
Subject: History
Students research and select an historical hero from a given list. This individual is then represented portraying some positive aspect of their legacy. This project would not necessarily need to be done in conjunction with another class but could stand alone as a positive role-model initiative within a technology class. Student's role models could include such individuals as Mother Theresa, with audio quotes and gestures demonstrating her dedication to caring for others.

Debate of Current Events
Grades: Middle School
Subject: 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.

Talk Show
Grades: Middle School
Subject: History
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.

Mythological creatures 
Grades: Middle School
Subject: History
Our after school “Classics Club” participates in an Ancient Coin Museum Project where the participating students learn about the history, art, culture, language, and history of the ancient Romans & Greeks.  Students will be assigned a mythological creature that is represented on an ancient coin in our museum collection. Students will design a robot that tells the related myth with movements and lights that highlight the creatures’ features.  For example, the chimera would have the body and head of a lion, a goat’s head extending from the middle of the body, and a snake for a tail. Coordinating animal sounds and movements can be incorporated into the audio. Lights can represent areas as they are introduced or they can reflect mood.

Native American Tribes
 Grades: Middle School
Subjects: History, Social Studies
Students would be assigned one of the Native American Culture groups, and using the robot kits, they will design and construct a robotic totem pole based on the many aspects of their tribe’s culture. The totem pole should depict the groups’ location, type of home, clothing, food, customs, tools, weapons, art, and one famous member of the tribe.  Areas of the totem pole will include at least 2 lights and 2 servos and related audio clips.

Anatomy & Biology Mini Projects

Gas Laws
Grades: High School
Subject: Biology
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.

Grades: Middle School
Subject: Biology
Drawing on the theatrical nature of robotics, this diary would portray an interconnected ecosystem. The robot would need to present at least two aspects of interconnectedness. One example would be a board displaying a sequence of LED lights moving from one step to another, with grass being eaten by a antelope (who's head moves up and down) being eaten by a lion who dies and becomes nutrients for the soil. The second level of interconnectedness could show the water cycle as it goes through the three states from vapor to ice to water.

Endangered Animals
Grades: Middle School
Subject: Biology
After learning about the various threats to biodiversity students would research and create a representation of an endangered animal species. The representation would have at least two states of being: one showing the animal in thriving, healthy conditions; the other showing in present, poorer conditions. The robot must also communicate some possible action that could be taken by humans to mitigate the causes of it's current endangerment.

Grade: High School
Subject: Anatomy
Students create a arm model to show muscle movement.