The $30 Science and Robotics Kit


Description: 

A "take home" hightech science toolkit which will allow students to explore their own world with scientific eyes. The $30 Science and Robotics Kit will give children a powerful toolkit for hands-on science and robotics, for the cost of a textbook.

Scientific literacy requires exposure to hands-on scientific tools, but those tools are prohibitively expensive for most schools, particularly in high-need areas. The $30 Science & Robotics Kit project purports to give children and schools a low cost, powerful toolkit for hands-on science and robotics. Being open-source and inexpensive will allow students to even take home their own science lab and continue their school work throughout the day. Having a "take home" science toolkit will allow students to explore their own world with scientific eyes, and learn about physics, chemistry, environmental science, mathematics, electronics, programming, and more -- in real-life contexts. Universities in three countries (US, Brazil, and Thailand) will collaborate to develop a hardware platform, low-cost scientific sensors, learning activities, and a website for collaborative scientific projects.

This project will use the GoGo Board framework, a hardware platform for robotics designed from the ground-up to be low-cost and user-friendly for children. While the foundation of the platform has been developed and tested, our goal to expand upon the platform's current capabilities to make a full-fledged science lab, with chemical and physical sensors, materials for teachers and students, and guides to enable educators to improve their teaching through hands-on science. We also look to create a community of practice for classrooms and individual students around the world who are curious about exploring new phenomena within their communities. The web platform will include tools for easy peer-to-peer support (including undergraduate students as mentors), a media library, a device showcase, guides for building boards and sensors, blogs for students to document their work, and a multimedia forum for children to share ideas and solutions. A $30 lab will take science beyond the school's walls, and help make it part of students' everyday life.

The SensorPen

Sensor Pen

The SensorPen (pictured above) is a device which allows students to mathematically quantify phemonema in their environment.  In the picture above it has a light sensor attached, but will also incorporate other interchangable sensors. The SensorPen utilizes the programming theory of "programming by example". A student creates a phenomenon (e.g. shining a bright light onto the light sensor) and then sets the recorded value as the threshold of a programming statement. In this scenario, if the same bright light is once again shone into the sensor, then an LED will light up which indicates that the brightness threshold has been met.