On Wednesday (Dec. 18th) we were invited to hold our (now) popular Design & Debug workshop at Estabrook elementary school. Unbeknownst to us at the time, Estabrook would be our biggest workshop with over 40 students participating. However, we expected 20-25 kids and only had five volunteers. Yet, this was one of our smoothest workshops yet! Staying true to the Design & Debug concept, we gave a preliminary on hardware, software, and CAD along with explaining the evolution of technology. As usual, our Outreach leader gave a short speech on the thought process of engineers. Afterwards, the kids split up into groups of 4-6 and we gave them the Jellybean challenge (which involves making a dispensing system) and the Angle Shot challenge (which involves making a scoring system). The kids were very well-behaved, and they got really into designing their own NXT robots to complete the challenge. One of the solutions which impressed us was an attachment with a little bucket which was tight enough to carry the blocks as the robot moved, but loose enough to swing forward and dispense the cubes when the robot drove to the tray.
This time, instead of having our signature “Big Al” robot, we brought in the actual Tetrix bot which we used at our scrimmages and a few of the “Block Party” cubes. Two of our five volunteers set-up a station where the kids got to drive around the robot and look at our autonomous (which involves launching a cube through the air). The kids loved driving around our scrimmage bot around, and were particularly fascinated by the autonomous. As the kids left at the end of the hour, they could not stop telling their parents about what they made. The principal told us that the robotics workshop was the talk of the school that day. The students will be transferred to a rebuilt school in February, and I am sure that for at least a few of them, this workshop will be a lasting memory of the current school.