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They call her BristleBot

3 parts and some tape

3 parts and some tape

Our first Robotics Club meeting was just to get organized, talk about what we would be doing and to see what the kids already new about robots.  They were shy for about 12 seconds then the damn broke and we were off an running.  They were extremely interested and engaged.  We actually got to cover all the topics I had hopped for.  This would be the last time.

Our first “bot” would be a Bristle Bot.  This is a simple little bot that scampers around like an insect.  It is surprisingly fun.  It only has 3 parts and a little bit of double sided tape, the head of a toothbrush, a coin cell battery (CR2030 for those interested) and a tiny vibrating motor.  The motor is used in cell phones and pagers to make them vibrate.  I thought it would be a very simple first build.

At our second meeting we started our BristleBot.  There were 3 kids who were signed up for other activities that were meeting at the same time.  One of them was DI (Destination Imagination) they would not be able to participate in our Robotics Club.  Included these students over the next few weeks our numbers took a tumble, we dropped all the way down to 42 roboteers.  Back to the BristleBot.

Let me start by saying when the first kids got theirs skittering across their desks shrieks went up and the excitement level doubled.  We were in the Library that day.  Soon I had a crowd of  desperate pleading want to to be roboteers.  Their peers success only heightened their urgency.  Their bot was inert or only vibrated when tightly squeezed between their fingers.  On the desk, well, they were as lively as a beheaded toothbrush.

the mean skittering machine

the mean skittering machine

Yes the BristleBot was simple BUT it wasn’t as easy as I hoped.  Some kids kept working at it and solved their problems others were  beset by Dementors.  95% of the issues were related to 2 problems.  Number 1 – remember we were using double sided tape (the foam kind)?  The kids were squeezing the battery and tape so hard that the little wires got smooshed up into the foam of the tape and no longer touched the battery so the motor wouldn’t spin.  Number 2 – is related to number 1, constant handling of the tape wires and battery caused the tape not to stick.  It was one of those situations that the harder they tried the worse it got.  A couple of kids pulled out the wires from the motor trying to solve their tape problem.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was robotics club.

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