Posts with «educational» label

Educational Robot for Under $100

While schools have been using robots to educate students in the art of science and engineering for decades now, not every school or teacher can afford to put one of these robots in the hands of their students. For that reason, it’s important to not only improve the robots themselves, but to help drive the costs down to make them more accessible. The CodiBot does this well, and comes in with a price tag well under $100.

The robot itself comes pre-assembled, and while it might seem like students would miss out on actually building the robot, the goal of the robot is to teach coding skills primarily. Some things do need to be connected though, such as the Arduino and other wires, but from there its easy to program the robot to do any number of tasks such as obstacle avoidance and maze navigation. The robot can be programmed using drag-and-drop block programming (similar to Scratch) but can also be programmed the same way any other Arduino can be.

With such a high feature count and low price tag, this might be the key to getting more students exposed to programming in a more exciting and accessible way than is currently available. Of course, if you have a little bit more cash lying around your school, there are some other options available to you as well.

Filed under: robots hacks

Build an automatic cat treat dispenser with Hummingbird

The Hummingbird by BirdBrain Technologies is an Arduino AtHeart microcontroller designed to enable beginners to create robots from craft materials. Hummingbird kits include LEDs, motors, and sensors that connect directly to the board. This eliminates the need for soldering or breadboarding and ensures that users have the parts they need to build their first robots. All of the components are reusable, so the same kit can be used to build many different robots.

In addition, the Hummingbird supports a variety of programming options, making it appropriate for beginning programmers as well as those who are more advanced. Some programming languages, such as Scratch and Snap!, can only be used when the board is connected to the computer. We will concentrate here on programming alternatives that enable users to upload a program onto the board’s Arduino.

Classrooms all over the world have used the Hummingbird from elementary to high school for projects ranging from Shakespeare dioramas to the physics of amusement park rides. In the following project, the BirdBrain Technologies team will show how they used the Hummingbird to build an automatic cat treat dispenser and demonstrate how the Hummingbird can be utilized to construct robots from everyday materials.

Building with the Hummingbird
Beginners can easily get started building Hummingbird robots with cardboard and craft materials. Motors, sensors, and LEDs can be connected directly to the Hummingbird board, and these elements can be added to the robot with hot glue. Hot glue peels off the components so that they can later be reused.

The example project uses one servo motor, one single color LED, and a light sensor. The dispenser consists of a servo motor attached to craft sticks that block the bottom of a chute containing cat treats. The position of the servo motor can be changed in software to release treats.

To receive a treat, the cat must cover a light sensor in front of the chute. When the cat covers the sensor, the servo motor briefly moves to open the chute and dispense a treat. The LED was included to show our test cat the location of the light sensor.

Programming with the Hummingbird
One unique feature of the Hummingbird is that it supports three different programming options for producing an Arduino program. These options provide steps of increasing difficulty to support learners as they transition from programming novices to Arduino experts.

Beginners can start with the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer. This software option is based on storyboarding. Users can select the motors and LEDs that they are using on a schematic of the Hummingbird board. Then they can create expressions by using sliders to set the values of these outputs. The expression below sets a servo motor to 100°.

Expressions can be combined to create sequences. For example, the sequence below controls our automatic cat treat dispenser. This sequence is controlled by a sensor block. If the light level is low, the three expressions on the left are executed. If the light level is high, the three expressions on the right are executed. The user can then convert this sequence to an Arduino program by simply clicking the “Export Sequence” button (shown outlined in red). The Hummingbird can then be placed into Arduino mode and the program uploaded to the microcontroller.

Another option for beginners is ArduBlock, which provides a visual introduction to the Arduino language. The Hummingbird extension for ArduBlock includes a block for each Hummingbird component. A program in ArduBlock to control the treat dispenser is shown below. This program is equivalent to the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer sequence shown above.

The Arduino code generated by this ArduBlock program is shown below. Individuals moving from the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer or ArduBlock to Arduino can start by modifying the generated code. For example, in the video we modified the commands inside the else to make the LED blink to attract the cat’s attention.

Once individuals are comfortable with the Arduino programming language, they can create more complex programs in Arduino. For instance, the video shows how we modified our robot and our code to incorporate three lights and three sensors. To get a treat, the cat must cover the sensor when the corresponding light is on.

The cat treat dispenser is only one example of a Hummingbird robot using the power of the Arduino at its core. The parts can be used and reused to construct an unlimited number of robots with low-cost materials such as cardboard, pipe cleaners, recycled materials, and even paper mache!

Bringing technology into the hands of teachers and students

Arduino and Genuino Education is a worldwide-leading school initiative bringing technology into the hands of teachers and students to create a more inventive learning experience. It offers multiple platforms, including research-based projects like PELARS and in-class programs such as Creative Technologies in the Classroom (CTC), all of which are present at this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area.

With CTC, students are able to learn basic programming, electronics, and mechanics concepts in an approachable, playful way through a series of coding projects and easy-to-assemble experiments.

Arduino’s one-of-a-kind STEM program has been implemented in nearly 500 schools throughout the globe, resulting in an overwhelming satisfaction rate among both students and teachers alike. 95% of instructors continue to use the curriculum in their classrooms year after year, while more than 13,000 students have already participated.

CTC 101 — running on Arduino 101 — is divided into four distinct stages:

  1. Teacher training (one week)
  2. Themed modules (five modules, 10 weeks)
  3. Student projects (nine weeks)
  4. Technology fair (one day)

Each program comes with a CTC 101 Toolbox consisting of:

  • Sets of electronics components and pre-cut mechanical parts
  • 25+ hands-on projects
  • Live training for teachers
  • Free online documentation and course materials
  • Support forums for teachers and students

Interested? Be sure to come visit us at Maker Faire Bay Area to learn more and fill out this form so we can get in touch!

Discover the role of colors in nature

“The color Visualizer” is an immersive installation to understand how color is used in nature to communicate between living organisms and to explore biodiversity through the lens of color:

By plucking an array of multi-colored strings, which are layered over the large array of high resolution screens, visitors can explore over 100 unique color stories as vibrant images and short videos appear before them. Strum a red cord, for example, and learn how a male cardinal bird colors his vibrant red feathers with pigments from food; strum a yellow cord and see how a yellow leopard’s spotted coat allows this predator to blend in with shadow and light while moving through tall grass.

The eye-catching cylindrical installation is part of the permanent exhibition “The color of Life” that opened in June 2015 and was created by Tellart in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences. It was prototyped using Arduino Uno and it’s currently shortlisted for the Interaction Awards, representing excellence in interaction design.

In the video below the team working at the project explain the main features of the educational installation and show a bit of the making of:

Doodle Bot - beginners platform

The Doodle Bot is a very simple robotic platform for beginners, students and hobbyist.

The Chassis is a simple laser cut panel with two ball raced geared motors and a servo for raising and lowering a white board marker, jumbo chalk or crayon. Each wheel is fitted with an 8-pole magnet that is monitored by hall effect sensors to form two simple wheel encoders.

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Want to learn Arduino? Use this educational Microbot!

Primary image

What does it do?

Educates people on arduino

Introducing the latest creation from B.O.T, the SWARMµBOT. An Arduino-Compatible educational micro-bot with all sensors required for applications such as Line-Following, Maze Solving, And Swarming! With a Atmega328 running an Arduino-compatible bootloader, and an integrated USB-UART bridge, programming this bot is as easy as connecting a USB cable, and hitting upload.

Cost to build


Embedded video

Finished project



Time to build

0 hours


URL to more information


65 grams

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