I've done an advanced robotics class at the middle school on and off for many years. It has always been logistically difficult because it conflicted with my May archeology jaunts. This year I have simply rearranged the latter.
The advanced robotics class has gotten a bit easier now because I can draw upon spare parts and experienced high school team members from the FIRST team. In fact I am pretty up front about this class....it is our FIRST robotics minor league farm club.
So far we have piles of parts and kids learning new skills....tapping holes for bolts, working with 80/20 fasteners, dreaming up mechanisms.
The class also proved fairly adept at brainstorming and doing some basic calculations. Their idea is to drive around the cafeteria dispensing cartons of chocolate milk. They walked an appropriate pace with a timer running and figured out how many feet per second was reasonable. This evolved into calculations for wheel diameter and RPMs for our drive motors. Then it is just raid the parts boxes.
The milk dispenser will rotate with this AxMan surplus motor and this Lazy Suzan device. They have a workable looking mechanism figured out and started.
With the milk carton of course....real world testing.
Maybe we get this beast constructed in the available sessions, maybe not. But the main goal in any event is learning safe construction technique and learning the right way to do things.
The list of things that are never the Right Answer: Hot Glue. Duct Tape. Vague, poorly described mechanisms....
The mechanical build team meets on Tuesdays. Software and control on Thursdays. I am encouraging members of each to "cross over" and drop in on the other side's work. It really helps to have builders who know controls and software people who can think of things in actual material ways. At our recent software session we fired up the software and test frame from the High School team. Or tried to. Among the first things you learn in this business is that the software always needs updating and that any little thing will turn your robot into an immobile paperweight.
After a bit things did get partially running.
As long as some progress is made it is a good session.