Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

One Day Workshop : 12 Foot Robot

Direct Provocation, Engineering Challenge, Interactive, Open Ended Design, Open Ended Solution, Tinkering ChallengeAccounts at Brightworks

We built a 12' tall robot today. This mustachioed mechanical fiend was a tinkerer by trade. He had 4 mechanical arms, one with a wrench, one with a power drill, one with a hammer, and one carrying flowers. A 4ft head with a light up eye dominated the skyline as a rolling base modeled after a lumber yard truck allowed him to turn on a dime.

We started the idea with a simple set of exceptionally vague notions. Josh would work with kids to build a body. Sean Would work with kids to build arms. Nikki would lead a team building a head. Lindsay would be our floater and help any team who needed it. Leaving it that simple and wide open gives us just the right structure (we are definitely building a robot) to keep things moving. A structure that help prevent us from doomed tangents and distracting antics.

More importantly it gives us tons of freedom to chase the kids ideas. It allowed us to say yes to the wonderfully oversized head and its amazing antenna, mustache and glowing single eye.

It let us say yes to a four armed tinkering machine that delivers flowers. It let us say yes to an 8ft tall torso, making it one of the larger things we have ever built.

As the day began we practiced with our chop-saw, laying a framework for discussions and opening up potentials.

Drills and saws are to building things as drum and guitar are to making music. You could use more, but you really don't need to.

We began our day by breaking into the 3 teams (head, arms, body). The team working on the head went big and never looked back.

The team working on arms needed all their focus. These would be the most finicky part of the project.

As the body took shape we needed to move outside so we could work on it at different levels simultaneously.

With the arms attached, the head went on and we enjoyed that first beautiful moment when disparate ideas come together to make something bigger and better than any one person or team could have done alone.

With a decidedly complicated software uploaded (totaling 5-10 child pilots at any given time) we set the robot on some tasks. Hammer this. Deliver a flower to that guy. Use the wrench to grab that pole. The team work needed and executed on was something spectacular to behold.

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