The world of robotics is like a trap waiting to be sprung! There are the fundamental building blocks of robotics that creep into every project. There’s the software, A.I., and numerous sensors available for on- and off-world applications. There are drawbots and walker ‘bots and even open-source robot offerings these days. Humans build robots for competitions and even rebuild them from infamous ‘robot pop culture’ moments. I mean heck we have landed a robot on Mars! How cool is that?
Robots are storied, that’s for sure. But it’s not all Terminators and DARPA humanoids as is widely perceived. Sometimes a robot is just a solar panel and some capacitors, or even as simple as some switches and motors, or possibly even more fun-damental than that!
For me that’s where Kathy Ceceri‘s book “Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future” (above) comes in. I bought this book last year when I was in Providence for the 5th annual Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire, where Kathy was an exhibiting maker. I remember seeing the expression on a young girl’s face when she saw a vibrobot and walker ‘bot and thought it wonderful that moments like these will inspire the next generation of makers.
Now I’m an avowed biblioholic, so as soon as I saw Kathy’s book I thought “I have to have that.” I buy a lot of books, which means I build a lot of shelves at home, and fill them, with books! A lot of them sit there for some time before I really get to spend time with them (if ever). But I routinely pull Robotics off the shelf and flick through it.
The book brilliantly bridges the gap between available kits and what you can actually do, right now, with mostly at-home type materials. The book contains 20 projects that utilize everything from cardboard to rubber bands to simple DC motors to translate the complexity of robots to a younger audience. It will introduce concepts like passive dynamics, accelerometers, and pressure sensors, using crafty supplies in combination with some circuitry where needed.
Recommended for ages 9-12, I’d even suggest some younger kids these days will blaze through this book’s chapters. It’s filled with historical and contemporaneous tidbits on robots and robotics. There are quick mentions of robots in industry ranging from film (Maria in the 1927 Fritz Lang masterpiece, Metropolis) to medicine (da Vinci Surgical System). There are shout-outs to the robot community (like RobotGrrl) and a great glossary of words throughout.
So if you’re looking to encourage that future-robot builder in the house or just looking for some robot-inspired projects to build with the little ones, I recommend you take a look at Kathy Ceceri’s Robotics. You can read it like a story or build all the projects contained within, from simple marker ‘bots to programming in Logo!
Due out in August 2014, Kathy Ceceri is also the author of the Maker Media book Making Simple Robots: Exploring Cutting-Edge Robotics With Everyday Stuff. “Filled with amazing low-tech/no-tech robotics projects, Making Simple Robots is written for non-engineers of any age. All you need to get started are basic crafts skills—cutting, taping, and gluing. And most can be built with just easy-to-find materials.” Pre-order the book today!