The second intensive day of Virtual Robotics activities began with a review by Dr Chelsea Sabo of our five core themes (Humanoid Robots, Human Robot Interactions (HRIs), Unmanned Flying Vehicles (UAVs), Biomimetics and Collective Robots) and a collaborative drawing exercise led by involving folded up paper led by Virtual Robotics lead artist Paul Evans.
The young people from Rawmarsh Community School were then split into four groups, with a small group focussing on a continuation of the filming activity from Day 1 and everyone else (including out three hard working STEM ambassadors) involved in four creative activities throughout the day.
The first activity was devised and led by Soo and Charlie from ArtBoat, and presented the young people with the challenge of making a five-fingered ‘humanoid’ hand out of perforated drinking straws and string. With only 40 minutes available, could the young people imitate millions of years of evolution and create a hand that was capable of holding a ball?
Suzannah Evans – a poet, creative writing teacher and tutor/mentor based in Sheffield – led a creative writing workshop, asking the young people to think about the machines that help us in our daily lives and how we relate to them – and to imagine what they might want to tell us if they could! They also looked at the earth from the perspective of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and used writing to explore their thoughts about what they might see.
Paul Evans helped the young people to create comic strips or ‘sequential art’ based on human/robot interactions, beginning with the design of individual characters and then developing four panel narratives – giving thought to the expressive nature of thought bubbles and and succinct dialogue.
Jon Harrison and Alex McLean led an exciting and involving hands-on workshop where the young people were given the task of creating a robotic machine from scratch; a machine that is capable of making the ‘tangliest tangle’ possible using a variety of craft materials. The workshop gave a hands-on experience of how computers can be used for physical and mechanic tasks, whilst also allowing the young people to come face to face with the reality of how unruly these things can be. The activity encouraged the young people to think of this act of making as being more akin to sculpture than computer programming, with the principle aim to be creative and have fun!
The Virtual Social Science project concluded at the end of Day 2 with a mind mapping exercise during which the young people were encouraged to draw connections between the five core topics.