Pupils work in teams of three to build, test and race a DrumBot.
What’s a DrumBot? Well, DrumBots are small ‘robots’ that move by using a geared motor to lift a weight mounted on an arm. This changes the position of their centre of gravity and causes them to roll forwards.
Teams can investigate how altering the size of the weight, length of the arm, motor power and diameter of the drum can affect their performance.
We often present the DrumBot Workshop in combination with our ‘Solar System Explorer’ contextualisation material which sets the scene by looking at the use of robot probes to explore other planets.
To run the workshop we need access to a space large enough to accommodate all of the participants for the introduction at the start of the workshop.
We will then need a space or spaces suitable for the number of participants to undertake a practical activity. For larger groups we will usually split into a number of separate classrooms for the DrumBot construction.
For testing and racing we will need access to a large outdoor space, preferably with some different types of terrain. If the weather is bad we can bring some ramps and do this inside.
In the ‘basic’ format the session starts with an introduction to the science behind the DrumBot and the process of the workshop.
Participants then return to individual classrooms to build and test their DrumBots. We finish the session with a race off or, a slope climbing challenge.
If we incorporate the ‘Solar System Explorers’ contextualisation material we will start the session with a short presentation about our Solar System and the different types of bodies that make it up. We then go outside (or to a large indoor space) and lay the Solar System out to scale so participants are aware of the huge challenges involved in visitng even the closer planets and how we use robot explorers to gather information to make any possible visits by people as safe as possible.
The DrumBots are then presented as potential robot explorers and it is each team’s task to build and evaluate its performance. We finish off with a recommnedation from each team about which planet their DrumBot might be best suited to explore.
And then, of course, we have a race!