Ideas for a Children's Museum Exhibit
May 27, 2011
There's a very small children's museum near me, and I've talked to them about putting together a robot exhibit. They've shown some interest, so I'm going to put together some ideas. Here's where you come in...
The 'museum' is basically just a large room at a community center. They don't have a dedicated space, so this is not to be a permanent exhibit. They can set up tables for different kids' activities. The events I've seen at the place had to be pretty open to accomodate a range of ages. Also, I would expect that most activities would be manned by volutneers. A demonstration or video presentation could be scheduled, but other activities would just have to be available throughout the day or weekend.
My idea is to have a bunch of tables where kids could learn and experiment with different aspects of robotics. For example:
- Gears: Kids free play with pegboards and build gear systems. Two pre-set displays show how different gear ratios affect the ability to lift a weight.
- Motors and Generators: Two identical gear motors are electrically connected so that one acts as a generator to power the other. A switch would allow the generator to power a light bulb or LED instead. Kids can crank the generator to power the light or turn the other motor.
- Batteries: A fixed display of batteries of different types shows kids something familiar. A supply of potatos, zinc and copper allow them to build their own batteries and power an LED.
- Motion: A comparison of different methods of motion. Kids can play with platforms that have wheels, tracks, legs, etc. and see how they compare over flat ground, bumps, ramps, and other terrain.
- Turning: Example platforms the kids can play with that show differential steering Vs. front and/or rear wheel steering.
You get the idea, I think.
For the demo/video portion, I thought about showing a variety of commerial robot toys, and asking the kids to identify how some of them work, based on their experience at the tables. Then I'd show fun videos of various robots (hobby, industrial, toys, etc.) in use.
There's a potential for a more focused workshop with older kids who would sign up for a 2-3 day class that includes building and programming a robot.
So, I need thoughts on the structure of the program, ideas for activity tables, demo/video thoughts, and build a robot workshop thoughts.
I got the go-ahead from the local children's museum for a robotics exhibit this fall. Now it gets real.