I’ve come across a few funny robots lately that I think have the “wow!” factor for kids…
1. The Walkerbot with pencil legs
Randy from the Instructables Design Studio (author of Simple Bots and 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer) designed the walkerbot out of 3D printed parts and stuff he bought at Radio Shack. Read more at 3DPrint
2. The Soft yet Indestructible “worm” Robot
Researchers at Cornell and Harvard have developed this funny-looking, super tough robot that you can burn, drive over and throw under water. The robot may one day play a role in emergency search and rescue in hazardous conditions such as earthquakes or fires. Learn more in this Recode article
Halloween is around the corner, and this year 3D printing offers a way to tie some design and engineering to costumes and decorations.
Cubify is offering 3D printing patterns that are free to download. Along with pumpkin accessories, you can choose masks, mustaches and other spooky decorations. Even better, have a look at these patterns for inspiration and then use one of the simple software programs — such as 123D Design (free from Autodesk), Sculptris (free from Pixologic), or Doodle3D (requires WiFi box), or Makers Empire (free app to download)– to create your own designs.
And now you can choose from a number of options assuming that, like most people, you don’t have a 3D printer. Options include:
The UPS store, which has rolled out 3D printing services at a number of stores in the US
On the subject of costumes, have a look at an amazing suit one woman created through 3D printing.
It’s a Varia Suit worn by the character Samus Aran in the video game series Metroid. But even if you’re like me and you’ve never heard of the game, it’s still impressive, and all the more inspiring when a woman takes on a project like this (if she is a woman…she’s a bit mysterious). This article (at 3Dprint.com) tells more of the story.
You might think that skydiving is too dangerous for kids, but what about indoor skydiving?
You don’t use a parachute or fall from great heights, instead you’re in a wind tunnel. But unlike a horizontal tunnel that might test airplane shapes, the indoor skydiving tunnel is vertical. The wind blows up at you, suspending you in the air as though falling from a plane.
Turns out that this is a great tool for capturing kids’ attention with the science of flight.
Scott London, of iFly explains (via the Chicago Tribune) how the company helps students learn about science and engineering concepts,
“We use our wind tunnels to teach students about drag, or forces exerted on solid objects by a moving object. We can customize the program to suit grades 2 through 4 where we might do concepts for the presentation and a demo with very little mathematics to it. Then we go all the way to 12th grade and advanced.”
And as you can imagine, when they make their “dive” they can feel the principles they’ve learned about.
It’s making me wish that our forthcoming picture book had included indoor skydiving! But we’ve included tons of other action that appeals to kids, ranging from skateboarding and sandboarding to dancing and bicycling. Check it out here. And who knows, maybe indoor skydiving is up next…
Have you ever read about a project you want to do with kids– but find you don’t have the right materials on hand? Or maybe you have a vague sense that you could be doing more to engage kids in hands-on, home learning in science and technology, but you’re not quite sure where to begin.