Bringing Battle Bots Into The Modern Classroom

With the wide array of digital entertainment that’s available to young students, it can be difficult for educators to capture their imagination. In decades past, a “volcano” made with baking soda and vinegar would’ve been enough to put a class of 5th graders on the edge of their seats, but those projects don’t pack quite the same punch on students who may have prefaced their school day with a battle royale match. Today’s educators are tasked with inspiring kids who already have the world at their fingertips.

Hoping to rise to that challenge with her entry into the 2019 Hackaday Prize, [Misty Lackie] is putting together a kit which would allow elementary and middle school students to build their very own fighting robots. Thanks to the use of modular components, younger students don’t have to get bogged down with soldering or the intricacies of how all the hardware actually works. On the other hand, older kids will be able to extend the basic platform without having to start from scratch.

The electronics for the bot consist primarily of an Arduino Uno with Sensor Shield, a dual H-bridge motor controller, and a wireless receiver for a PS2 controller. This allows the students to control the bot’s dual drive motors with an input scheme that’s likely very familiar to them already. By mapping the controller’s face buttons to digital pins on the Arduino, additional functions such as the spinner seen in the bot after the break, easily be activated.

[Misty] has already done some test runs with an early version of the kit, and so far its been a huge success. Students were free to design their own bodies and add-ons for the remote controlled platform, and it’s fascinating to see how unique the final results turned out to be. We’ve seen in the past how excited students can be when tasked with customizing their own robots, so any entry into that field is a positive development in our book.

12 thoughts on “Bringing Battle Bots Into The Modern Classroom

  1. we had sumo bots. i ended up placing #2. the guys who won had access to a whole damn machine shop outside of class while we were stuck using the facilities the school already had.

    1. #2 is great for the limitations it sounds like you had. That is the biggest challenge with the schools. It is sometimes hard getting the budget for bringing this kind of stuff in. Awesome that you guys were able to do sumo bots. What grade level was this for?

    1. I love VEX!! Their battle bots are great. We were looking for something a little bit more advanced though that could teach them about the Arduino, how to connect all the electronic components together, coding, etc. I think the VEX battle bots are great for under 5th grade level.

  2. I’m doing the same thing with my students (8th + HS). Except with Endbots ESCs, LemonRX RC receivers, N20 motors, and they’re designing their bots in CAD + 3d printing them. Next year in the afterschool program we’re gonna get into spinners with brushless motors :D

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