Building a robot may seem like a daunting task, especially for beginners. However, it is a fantastic way to engage kids in science and technology. In this step-by-step guide, we will share everything you need to know to get started on a robot-building project, including the tools, materials, and supplies you will need, as well as the importance of programming for kids after building their robots.
What Do You Need to Know?
Before diving into a robot project, it’s essential to set goals and determine the cost and time involved. Some goals you can strive for include learning an embedded programming language, building a robot chassis based on provided specifications, choosing electrical components, and understanding how firmware, electrical systems, and mechanics integrate. The complexity of the robot will depend on your budget and available time.
What Tools and Materials Do You Need?
Once you have established your project goals, it’s time to gather the necessary materials. Building a robot requires various components, such as cameras, motors, servos for movement, a microcontroller (like a Raspberry Pi), a chassis (such as Sphero RVR), and programming software like TensorFlow. You can also incorporate low-tech materials like popsicle sticks and cardboard for a more hands-on experience.
Building a Robot with Home Materials
Building a robot doesn’t necessarily require sophisticated tools. With just a set of screwdrivers, a laptop, and a development processor board, you can get started. Depending on your project’s complexity, you can also explore options like robotic arms, Lego bricks, or customized kits.
The Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Robot
Set a Process: Building a robot is not just about physical construction. It’s also essential to establish an effective process, whether you’re working in an educational or professional setting.
Get Teams to Work Simultaneously: Take inspiration from Sphero robots, where different teams handle firmware, electrical, and mechanical aspects. By working simultaneously, you can streamline the construction process and ensure all components are ready for assembly.
Build Prototypes: Prototyping is a crucial step for troubleshooting and refining your design. It allows you to test if your robot fulfills its intended purpose and make improvements if necessary.
Programming Your Robot for Kids
Building a robot can also be an excellent opportunity for kids to learn computer programming. While professionals use complex languages and debuggers, kids can start with simple robotic coding, which involves inputs, choices, outputs, and reactions. Sphero offers coding kits and STEM kits designed for kids to learn and have fun coding instructions for their robots.
Building a robot is a rewarding and engaging activity for kids and teens to become STEM-literate. By setting goals, gathering the necessary tools and materials, following a step-by-step process, and incorporating programming skills, you can embark on an exciting robot-building project with your kids or students. Remember, science and technology literacy is an invaluable asset for future success.
Article contributed by Sphero team members Rabia Aslam, a Firmware Engineer, and Bryce Gaston, an Electrical Engineer.