Researchers from Harvard University have created a new, low-cost robot designed to teach children about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The Affordable Education Robot costs just $10.70 to make but offers enough functionality to keep things interesting.
The AERobot comes with an RGB LED, infrared transmitters, phototransistors, and inexpensive vibration motors that allow the robot to move forward, backward and turn in place. The robot plugs in to a laptop via USB, to recharge and program.
An online curriculum features 15 lessons designed to teach elementary and high school kids with no prior experience about sensors and simple programming. Students assemble their own bot and then program it using modified version of Miniblogs to do classic robotic tasks, such as line-following and obstacle avoidance.
After winning first and second place in several categories at the AFRON 2014 Design Challenge, the AERobot formed the basic platform for a STEM Summer Camp program called BugBots. Now the challenge is bringing the product to a wider market. “We are actively trying to figure out a way to make it available for purchase,” says AERobot developer Mike Rubenstein. In the interim, Rubenstein in the process of making the robot more resilient after a fall and making the required software easier to install.