Project Inter-Actions

Saturday Afternoon Session



Henry and Lauren’s “Mess Machine”

My machine makes a mess by scattering foil balls all over the room.  It is important because I made it.  I built it in sections.  The first section connects the RCX control to the motor that rotates the arm.  The second section is the arm that flings the ball.  The final section is the light sensor that triggers the arm to move.  We started with a very simple program and gradually made it more complicated.  We tried different arm structures, and we had to adjust the time that the arm moved depending on the weight of the arm.  My mom and I did it without any help.  The hardest thing was getting the bevel gear well attached.  Another hard part was making sure the wires didn’t get tangled in the gears.  I learned how to program the RCX.  I learned about how gears work.







Jonah and Eric’s Castle

Our project is a castle with a drawbridge that opens and closes when you press a button. There is also a tower with two trap doors. No one can get in when the drawbridge is up.

We built it at class and at home. We used some Legos from class and some from home. The most important part was a gearbox and worm gear for connecting the motor to the drawbridge. The worm gear only turns one way so people on the outside of the castle can’t charge the bridge and push it down.

Our program was pretty simple. It uses a timer to decide how long to raise the bridge or lower it. It might have been nice if we’d used touch sensors to control when the bridge stops opening and closing, but we needed two for that and one for the switch, and we only had two. We used a loop to go back to the beginning each time the bridge went up and down.

Ben, Jonah’s older brother, helped us build the castle and helped write the program. We also phoned two friends to find out how to set the time in the ? timer.







Jennifer & Brian’s  “Uncle Feather”
(the bird in the Fudge books from Judy Blume)

Our project flaps its wings, turns and drives forwards and backwards.  It is important to Jennifer because she likes Uncle Feather (see note above).  Jennifer really likes reading the Fudge books and she has become very attached to Uncle Feather and likes to talk like the bird fairly often.

We built it using Lego (ha ha…).  On the last project day before the break we were looking through the boxes of extra parts and Jennifer really liked the large green grass plates.  She combined them with long black girders and called them wings.  I figured out how to use a worm gear box, a gear train and a set of eccentric leavers to make the wings flap.  This was the start.  Next we spent time figuring how to get it to stay together and how to attach it to a base that can move.  I was very interested in using the differential and using a third motor to control the steering as well. 

We used the Robolab at home (after much effort to get it installed and working) and used a pair of tasks (rather than the loop we used before) one that controls the steering and one that flaps and controls the direction.  We made use of techniques we had learned earlier to combine 3 touch sensors as digital inputs and three long wires to make it a remote control bird.  None other then the two of us helped us.  The hardest part was making it strong, especially keeping the motors and wings attached.  We had to use tape to keep some of the critical joints tight.  We learned how to make an Uncle Feather, and how to make flapping wings.






Toyagumon (Digimon) Project by Kalvin and his pop

We wanted to build a Digimon character named Toyagumon that would walk and battle.  It was important to re-create this Digimon because Kalvin really likes him.

We basically got as far as design. We tried different websites, books, and other Lego sets for ideas on how to create a bi-ped that might walk and battle but had very little luck.  As for programming, well, we never got that far.  We came in one Tuesday night and had Kevin help us with some ideas, but again, the lack of complete design directions, and often, the necessary parts thwarted a couple beginner engineers like the two of us.

The hardest thing was to develop designs that we could then create to make what we wanted.  We just never were able to pull the construction off.  And while I was disappointed and ready to give up, Kalvin never wanted to quit.  I learned that he has a great perspective on projects like this and knows that with the right time, parts, and design, we eventually would have been able to create our Toyagumon.





“Basketball Shooting Robot” by Edward & his Dad

Our project is a robot basketball player that jumps up into the air (in slow motion) and shoots a basketball into the basket. It then lands on the ground ready to shoot another ball.  Our project is important because it is cool. Edward started playing basketball this year, which was his inspiration for this project.

We built most of the robot in the second to last class, and we programmed it at home. We used a gearbox to make the robot go up and down. This is why it moves in slow motion. We used a second motor for the arm of the robot.  We used timers to decide when to start and stop the motors. The program is pretty simple. We move the robot up for 3.3 seconds. Then we move the arm forward for 0.15 seconds. Then we move the arm backwards for 0.15 seconds and then move the player back down for 3.1 seconds.

The toughest challenge was to figure out how to make the basketball player move up and down. We first tried using teeth on the back of the player and a gear to move it up and down. We couldn’t figure out how to attach the player to the ground and still have him move, so we went to plan B. We used a gearbox to turn a big gear that was attached to the player. This made the player move up and down.  Another challenge was getting the timing right. We used TRIAL and ERROR to get the times right. It took many trials to get the robot to work without destroying itself.

We learned that it is possible to get a robot to throw a ball through the air accurately. We learned to keep trying if something doesn’t work right the first (or the tenth) time.






Birdie by Anna & Perry

The bird flies and when it sees the light, it stops and turns around.

It is important because I built it and programmed it.

We used two motors that that reacted to light.

We programmed one motor to go in reverse when it saw the light.

We got help from Melissa.

The hardest part was trying to get not to fall apart.

I learned to make a robot that does what I wanted it to do.






“Robotic Man” by Linda & her family

We are building a robot with legs, but it turns out very difficult.

We used the big wheel to push two arms, which are also the legs.

The hardest thing is to keep the robot stand up.

We slow down the motors to make the robot walk slow, otherwise it would fall.

We learned that we need a lot of time.






Isaac & Scott’s Catapulting Car






Rishij & Sanjay’s Paddleboat





Congratulations to all the children and families on their hard work!