Mechanical Engineering for Kids
The PITSCO T-BOT II was a breeze to assemble. I used a block of wood as a base for the project. The instructions are simple and clear, with photographs showing each step of assembly. The kit went together quickly and error-free, and was operational within 2 hours of unpacking the parts. You will need a screwdriver, scissors, cool-melt glue gun, cool-melt glue and white glue, sold separately. Instead of the recommended dyed water, we used colored tape to distinguish the master syringes and match them to the slave syringes.
The T-BOT was demonstrated to the children at Ontario Progressive Montessori School by having T-BOT lift and relocate five rigid Styrofoam 1-inch cubes. The students were intrigued and entertained when they understood how large movements could be made by the T-BOT owing to the high mechanical advantage of the four axes of motion. These include Axis 1 – where the swivel base connects to the platform, Axis 2 – where the mid-arm connects to the swivel base, Axis 3 – where the mid-arm connects to the forearm, and Axis 4 – where the grippers connect to the forearm.
We organized teams of four students, with each in charge of a particular function. Teams moved the five foam cubes from one area to another marked on paper. It was fascinating to see the younger ones quickly learning how to operate the bot from the first attempt. Care must be taken drawing and pushing the plungers so that you don’t pop off a plunger.
Finally we challenged the teams to move and stack the cubes within a given time period, with points given for the highest stack. Seeing them progress with the kit, and loving the learning experience, was rewarding. We discussed the concept of mechanical advantage, classes of levers, and their uses in the real world. The meaning of a Robot was discussed, together with the Robotic terms on page 11 of the user guide. The T-BOT can be used to teach children the importance of team work and patience, as well. It could be beneficial for a child’s fine motor coordination by using precise pressure controls. We recommend T-BOT as an educational tool as it demonstrates important ideas in teamwork, Physics / Mechanics and Robotics.
The kit is priced at $39.95 (a base is sold separately on PITSCO’s website). For more information, please visit www.pitsco.com/store