Crawlers are simple vehicles powered by geared motors. This means that, although they move quite slowly (hence the name), the motors generate a fair amount of torque and this allows them to cover rough ground and climb over obstacles.
Participants work in teams of three to build and modify their Crawler and the session ends with either a race or a slope climbing challenge or a combination of the two!
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 rocket construction.
For testing and racing we will need access to an outdoor space, preferably with a variety of different surfaces and types of terrain.
In the ‘basic’ format the session starts with an introduction to the science behind the Crawlers and the process of the workshop.
Participants then return to individual classrooms to build and test their Crawlers. 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 Crawlers 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 Crawler might be best suited to explore.
And then, of course, we have a race!