With the advent of Star Wars: the Jedi Returns, the team at Curiosity Gym planned on reviving an old camp. We ended up making two droids at this camp. One was a BB8 and the other was a drone. The importance of this camp was that the students enjoyed building these droids and understood the concepts behind them.
On a bright Wednesday morning, the kids assembled at the Curiosity Gym office. The first thing that the instructor went through was how the class was going to be taught and the instructions that the students need to navigate the office. Then, the goals for this camp were set forth. The kids then introduced themselves to their classmates and tell them about something interesting that they had done in the past week. After the introductions were completed, the class was given safety instructions. It is of utmost importance that the children are well versed with using the makerspace and not cause any harm to themselves or the material that they are handling.
To get the inner artist out of the children, we asked them to sketch on a piece of paper, what design did they envision on their BB8. Some of the kids wanted the BB8 to be similar to one in the movie while some wanted to be creative with their design. Once completed, they were given the BB8 shell to work with. At this moment they had no idea what they had to deal with. Once the shells were given, the instructors instructed the kids to cut the ears of the shell. These shells are thick, therefore making it hard to cut through. The students were given instructions on how to use the hacksaw and they were also given instructions on sanding. Within 10 minutes of using the hacksaws, the students were getting tired! Their perseverance was being tested. At the end of all of the cutting the kids got tired and lucky for them it was their break time. The class reconvened after break. The next task was to mummify the shell using painters tape in the design that they had drawn earlier. The instructors then explained about spray painting to the kids. The kids had mummified the shell so that the parts that were not mummified would be white in colored as soon as the shell was spray painted. Once the kids were done with this much, it was time for them to pack up and leave for home.
The next day as soon as the kids arrived, the class began. The goal for day 2 of the droid camp was that the students was to assemble the electronic systems in the BB8 shell and to understand what each component was doing. The instructors gave a prebuilt BB8 and asked the kids to replicate it. It was like solving a jigsaw puzzle where the final image is given and the kids just have to put the pieces together. Upon encountering every new electronic device, the kids did not shy away from asking the instructors important questions pertaining to the electronics on the robot. This “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) activity was one that the students enjoyed the most as they were building the robot with their own hands and they were also understanding the concepts of why the BB8 was designed in a particular fashion. The kids learned about motors, wheels, center of gravity, node MCU, H-Bridge and Motor Shield. At the end of the day the kids were really happy to see that their make was coming to life.
The third day was spent on battery safety. The instructor made the kids read all of the battery safety guidelines and gave the kids a safety sheet to refer to when handling the battery. This ensured that the kids knew about battery safety and why was it important to put the battery correctly in the robot. The kids then went on to make the head of the robot. The next thing, the kids were assigned was the task to write an algorithm for the robot. The kids had to come up with a slew of instructions to give to the robot to follow. Once they were done with that, the instructor pulled up the code for the BB8 droid and explained it to the class. The instructor then asked the kids to finish assembling the robot and test to see if it worked. Some of the kids had issues with their robots not working well. The instructors asked the kids to try to troubleshoot what they thought was going wrong. Upon failure to understand what went wrong, the instructors intervened and told the students what the error was. That brought an end to day 3.
On the last day of the camp the kids were taught the basics of aeronautical engineering. This included the concept of Lift, Drag, Thrust and Weight. The kids learned about how airplanes fly and why do they maintain altitude, rise or fall in altitude. The kids also learned about different types of thrust devices used in airplanes. Then the instructors switched to drones and their applications. Then based off the material that the kids had just learned the instructors asked the kids to figure out how drones flew. The kids correctly told the instructors how drones fly. The next task assigned to the kids was to assemble a drone and fly it. The kids were able to assemble the drone, however they failed to understand why some of them did not fly. It was a good learning by doing thing for them. Finally, the kids got to fly the drones. Also at the end of the day the kids played around with their BB8 droid.
The camp ended on a bright note with the kids making a BB8 and a drone by themselves. They were also able to control the BB8 and the drone with their mobile phone. All in all it was a fun camp for them with a lot to learn! Twas a delight, the pace at which these kids could digest everything being thrown at them.