I was delighted to be asked by Angie Alloway of Studfall Junior School in Corby to present to an assembly and to run four robotics workshops for their Y6 classes over the course of a school day. The big day was 15 March and was part of the school’s Science Week events. For me it was very tiring, a bit scary, but it ended up being well worth the effort. Studfall is pretty large as far as typical UK primary schools go – there are over a hundred children (four classes worth) in each school year. So my audience for the assembly was well over 400 people, most of whom were between 7 and 11. I’d created a few slides on ‘Robots in Space’ and we had a very interesting discussion about them. A couple of space facts that I found out while I was preparing my presentation:
- The Surveyor moon landers were sent up by NASA in the early 1960s, to test the ground for the eventual Apollo moon landings. What I didn’t realise was that Apollo 12, the second mission to land on the moon, put down on the lunar surface just a few hundred metres from one of the Surveyors, and it was actually visited by the Apollo 12 astronauts; and
- Curiosity, which is trundling around the surface of Mars at the moment, is by far the heaviest object successfully landed on another planet. NASA had to invent a special rocket powered robotic ‘sky crane’ to lower it the last few metres to the surface. Having successfully done this, it was deliberately crashed into the surface of Mars some way away from the landing site. What a pity there weren’t any cameras on the surface to record its arrival – it must have been an awesome sight.
After the assembly it was off to the workshops. Given that I don’t have the resources to be able to get 25-30 people doing the same thing all at once, we had to use a variety of robots. Big shout out to Wink, Ozobot, Ollie, Sphero, BB-8 and Jade, who were all well up to the mark. Some lunchtime recharging for was required for the robots as well as myself, but they all lasted all day.