This week in DIT Kevin St, Damon and I had two visits from Fiona Canavan who’s a teacher in Holy Child Community School in Sallynoggin, Co Dublin. She’s planning to build RoboSlam robots over the next few weeks with her transition year robotics class. In the Irish school system, transition year is the fourth year of secondary school (equivalent to 10th grade in K-12 in the USA) and it provides students with a 1-year break from the treadmill of the state exam curriculum. It gives schools an opportunity to expose their students to a diverse range of learning experiences that would otherwise be difficult to find time for. Fiona joined us to get familiar with the RoboSlam process by building her own robot. We had good fun working together and Fiona gave us some really good ideas for refining the workshop and delivering it within a transition year curriculum.
The philosophy of RoboSlam is to combine a simple, low-cost kit with some clear and accessible instructions so that complete novices can get stuck in and build a working robot from real engineering components very quickly. However, using real off-the-shelf components means that slight variations are inevitable and that can be enough to derail someone working in isolation with only the instructions to guide them. RoboSlam’s secret ingredient is face-to-face guidance from one or more facilitators who have previously built the robot and can help first-timers past any bumps in the road. Fiona will soon join the growing list of RoboSlam participants who have gone on to become RoboSlam facilitators. She built her robot in record time, so she should do well guiding others through the process!