Taking our robot elephant to Glastonbury Festival turned out to be brilliant. On the way there I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to like it. Compared to all the amazing displays, I thought my little elephant covered in duct tape might be insignificant. But kids and parents loved it. Even the marshals started talking about it as we drove in with the elephant bobbing up and down in the trailer.
Last week I went to my first hackathon. It was run by the Met Office, so all the projects were weather related. I helped create a game for kids to understand weather networks using a polystyrene globe and simple electronics.
When I went to the Brighton Maker Faire last year, it was fun controlling my lecturer’s robot. Kids enjoyed interacting with it but girls tended to watch for a while before tentatively approaching.
So I decided to create a soft, friendly, approachable robot in the form of a baby elephant.
It’s made using recycled materials. The wheels and electronics are from a broken electric wheel chair. Dexion (which is like Meccano for grown-ups) from a mill that closed gives it enough strength to ride on and foam from an old mattress makes it comfy.
The elephant will be in the Green Kids field at Glastonbury Festival in June.
As part of my work for the university’s Widening Participation programme, I go into schools to introduce children to the idea of university. I offered to redesign a game for 11-13 year olds and was asked to create something new.
The idea of the game is to collect skills, study and independence points towards a degree. The board is a map of a campus and students pick up cards with fun facts and trivia about university as they go round. The game is going to be trialled in schools this term and hopefully played for real from September.
This looks like mayhem but we’re actually in two teams trying to knock the opposing team off whilst completing set tasks. At one point I’m flowriding blind folded amongst it all.
Building a 3d printer from a kit takes the mystery out of the technology. The printer uses plastic made from cornstarch and has a faint smell like candyfloss when it’s printing.
Kids enjoyed giving the robot a cup to grab and provoking it to squirt them with water.
Conductive ink makes designing circuit boards as easy as drawing dot-to-dot with a special pen.
The Nest Rest was designed as a university project with Marcus. It provides an extra seat when friends come round and folds up to be stored under the sofa. The low level means that even in a small space everyone can see the TV, which was often a challenge in my shared house.