So recently I have had the honour of being chosen to represent students, and act as a consultant, for a provincial committee (the Ministry of Education) responsible for designing a new Programming and Engineering based curriculum for each district of the province. The Ministry has raised a substantial sum of money (in the million’s) to implement the new curriculum in each district, and I suggested that the curriculum to be based around robotics, as it encompasses everything; design, engineering, programming, you name it.
I just wanted to know from all of you, if you were to have a robotics workspace what you would need, in terms of supplies, supervision/advice, expertise, support, tools, etc.
Ask @meng. His students could build great robots in a barebones workspace.
Really, I’d have a few power tools capable of cutting/drilling through metal and aluminum. Those could be miter saws, drill presses, dremels (I’m just going off based on what I have in my STEM class’s workshop). An angle grinder would also be handy.
As to expertise, I think first-year students could use the tools if they first go through a safety training program.
Look to the students’ parents too. Chances are, one is an aircraft mechanic or something like that and have access to really awesome tools that could be used to craft nifty stuff. I’ll always have my dad to thank for the intake locks he made for my robot.
Rooms that can easily fit a full field.
Workstations on wheels (must have, wish I did)
Organized tool and parts storage
Defined areas for certain tasks. Design, Building, Testing, Practice.
Defined methods for processes like ordering parts, requesting equipment, etc.
Teach STEM, STEM, STEM… All about STEM.
Promote a team environment, if they come away with anything it should be how to interact with others and work together to a common goal. That is 98% of the real world outside of schools so it’s important to give kids that skill early.
Teach project management skills like sprints and deadlines. Gantt chart time management etc.
Teach fund raising skills and how to write a sponsorship application properly.
Generally one supervisor is necessary (based on duty-of-care requirements) to oversee and “manage” the team in terms of financial management and event organization. Also to prevent accidents happening like a Dremel sanding a hole in a student’s finger while they cut a new slip gear. (TOTALLY HASN’T HAPPENED TO ME nice scar though)
Having at least one adult who is an engineer of some description or an expert that can assist and offer criticism. Students will never learn quickly if they have nobody but themselves to teach them.
Basic tools needed would be:
• Hex drivers (drivers with handles and ball ends are a must)
• Power drills for tightening those important lock nuts that can never come undone under any circumstance or the robot falls apart
• Drill press
• Mounted Belt sander
• Bandsaw if you really need
• And a shop vacuum because VEX is messy
• Also, endless supply of sugar-rich drinks and food for late nights
All joking aside, I think there are four elements to a robotics workspace:
(1) work space - these are the tables where the robots are built. You need a fair amount of space per team.
(2) storage space - you need storage. Both for big things (like c-channel and other large metal, gears, wheels) and small things (like nuts, screws, sensors, bearing flats). You want to be able to separate and mark the small things so you don’t have to search high and low for a 1/2" screw. There should be a drawer dedicated to them.
(3) power tool space - this is where you work on power tools such as your dremel, saw, sander, etc.
(4) computer/clean work space - you need a table that is somewhat clean (no metal dust) for writing and working on the computer. A computer with internet is also useful for research, watching youtube videos and other things. We have a photoprinter so we can take pictures, print them out and put them in our engineering notebook.
Oh, DUH! Five elements. You need a full sized, regulaion field! Our first year we did not have this and it made tournaments difficult. There is no substitute for a full-sized field of you have the wherewithall (which, apparently you do, with such a huge grant!).