Stanford Engineers Develop Autonomous Lego Robots
Tom Spendlove posted on March 27, 2017 |
Ingmar Riedel-Kruse and his team have developed robots that can autonomously perform science and bio...

Ingmar Riedel-Kruse and his team of engineering students and developers from Stanford University believe that robots are a big part of getting future generations interested in STEM careers. As a part of the National Robotics Initiative funded by the National Science Foundation, Riedel-Kruse and his team have developed Lego Robots that autonomously conduct chemistry and biology experiments.

The robots are built from the Lego EV3 platform, low cost lab equipment, and using materials that the team expected K-12 educators and students could easily access. This week the Public Library of Science published Ingmar's journal article that detailed the process of development of the robots and the instructions for other educators to build their own robotic systems.

Incredibly detailed instructions were published with the article, including instructions for building the robots, CAD files showing the different construction pieces, the raw code for running the EV3 platform, curriculum for experiments, and videos showing the operation of the system.

Testing for the system was done first with eight Girl Scout students in an after school program who all had previous Lego Mindstorms exposure, and two instructors. Later testing was done in a more traditional classroom setting with one instructor and nine more middle school students in a more traditional classroom setting. Beyond running the set experiments it was found that students like to add flourishes to the code like sounds and video display, and performed side experiments mixing different colors and densities of material.

Riedel-Kruse's grant from the National Science Foundation is titled Liquid Handling Robots - A New Paradigm for STEM Education, and will run between September 2016 and September 2019. The grant hopes to study the ways that students experience the robotic building and experiments, and the infrastructure required to give the students the best possible STEM experience.

This a great initiative that has already published material that my students can use to learn more about science and robotics. The fact that the build instructions, curriculum, and code are all available will be a solid base for students in engineering and industrial technology courses.

(Images courtesy of the Public Library of Science)

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