Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Machines Behaving Badly - The Thursday Group Warming Up

I have two sections in my robotics class.  12 students each on Tuesday and on Thursday.  The Thursday group ended up having one less build session due to parent teacher conferences or some nonsense.  As such they have always been just a little bit behind the Tuesday group.

But they are hard working kids and I have been able to lay on some extra help.  One of the student teachers in the English department took an interest in the project.  And as is often the case I had a parent take me up on my offer to make welcome an additional set of supervisory adult eyes.  Both have turned out to be handy fellows, and have been helping kids with the kind of stuff that really should be watched glue guns and sixth graders is just asking for trouble.

In any event the Thursday squadron is actually coming up with better looking machines than Tuesday.  With one build session left before our 10 November "Machines Behaving Badly" Robotolypse, here are a few sneak previews.

Here are a couple of one pounders, in what we call the "antweight" class.  The upper one will have a weight distribution issue.  Even with the battery at the far back of the machine the center of gravity will be out in front of the wheels and traction will not be ideal.  Until of course the front of the robot gets torn off, then things will improve a bit.  The second machine is built by the one girl in the class.  It will be called "Girl Power".  We usually have one or two girls in the class of 24, and they generally acquit themselves well in combat.

I have started offering the kids gearboxes from derelict Barby Jeeps.  They come my way with some regularity and are a good weapon choice.  They are emphatic and cool to watch in action.  They are also a nice challenge for the kids as they are difficult to mount securely and just at the upper limits of what you can afford in weight and stay under the three pound, beetleweight, limit.  The weapon bar here is a piece of lexan.  The black patch is velcro...I got an enormous roll of this at Axman surplus and we use it for quick change on the batteries and electronics.  Otherwise the robots become big sticky balls of duct tape.  This student is the youngest of three brothers I have had in the class over the years.  I keep calling him the wrong name.

Difficult perspective here.  The drive unit/gear box is simply attached to a big ol' cardboard box.  It can be driven around while the box spins furiously.  On the plus side, the effect is to pummel your opponent with flailing cardboard and duct tape.   Also we expect it will fly apart at some point.  On the negative side the arena is full of nasty hazards.  One of them is a drop hazard that allows objects to fall from above.  I just happen to have a small anvil to drop.  Will I write the word ACME on it?  Silly question.

Another full body spinner, seen here with just the mechanical guts.  This was one of those projects that has just fought us at every turn.  Liberal use of both drywall nails and the trusty hot glue gun seen in the background.  For a shell the student really wanted to use the plastic bowl that had held Halloween candy the night before.  But when I looked at what he had brought in I noticed that it was flimsy and already cracked.  So.....
Lay on the orange duct tape.  This is one of those projects that will be done at the last minute and will not allow for much practice driving.

No comments: