TechHive Fall 2017: Day 3 // Part 2

After everyone finished up working on their cardboard robot creations, we set them aside to be able to showcase them on the museum floor on Day 4. Now it was time for our DATE WITH AN ARDUINO!

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Arduino is a accessible, versatile, and resourceful open-source electronics platform. It’s a great transition from Hummingbird + Scratch and we were excited to have the interns start learning how to use it.

First, we talked about the basics of electronics. It was important for them to learn about circuitry such as the difference between open, closed, and short circuits. They learned the basics of switches, resistors, and LEDs. We also made sure they had exposure to how breadboards worked and how to read diagrams that we made from the fritzing app, an "open source hardware initiative that makes electronics accessible."

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Afterwards, we started working on our Arduinos with the best, most accessible project to work on: making an LED turn on and blink! The interns learned how to use the Arduino IDE and the basics of the code. They learned how to name variables, how to delay the LED blinking, the difference between analog and digital pins, and different functions.

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It was a very productive day today! Next week, we'll be doing much more work with Arduino in preparation with our final project. We can't wait to continue learning more with our interns. 

TechHive Fall 2017: Day 3 // Part 1

We spent the first part of our day perfecting our Robot Petting Zoo creations using hummingbirds, Scratch, and lots of cardboard. Our teams continued making their robotic angler fish with lots of moving, blinking, blaring pieces using LEDs, servos and motion sensors.

We really stress the design process in TechHive as an important skill to learn. A vital component of this process is making sure everyone focuses on the “mechanics” of their projects before moving on to what we like to call “THE JUICE.” This is to make sure they don’t get distracted by the aesthetics before everything is fully functional. Once this team finished their mechanics, they worked on the flair by adding bits of balloons as scales and fluffy balls on top of it's head. They wanted to make sure it was appealing and fun in order to engage little kids.

The most frustrating part of the project was debugging and executing the code. They kept having issues with getting the Hummingbird controller to be detected by Scratch and adjusting the angles and movement of the motors. They found that the most effective way of overcoming this issue was by rebooting everything and debugging the program by breaking it up into little bits until they found the problem.


Their goal of the day was to make something fun and interesting while learning and developing new skills. It was rewarding to see the end product because of how hard they worked on it and they can’t wait to see how the kids will react to it. They definitely made something fun, but are looking forward to creating the more ambitious projects that we have planned for them!


TechHive Fall 2017: Day 2

Day 2 was all about continuing work on our cardboard creations for the Robot Petting Zoo. We were also getting used to the Design Sprint process we’ve been implementing.

While the interns worked on building and adding artistic flare to their creations, they also learned some more programming skills. Some important blocks they got familiar with were the loop statements, such as forever, repeat, while, and for. They also learned about naming local variables and conditional statements, such as if-else. They used these blocks to be able to continuously repeat the different actions they wanted to incorporate into their project and were able to have more control over what they did.


Besides learning how to program and design, another very important skill we cultivate in TechHive is the ability to effectively collaborate with each other. Our interns work together in all aspects of their projects, contributing to it with their different skill sets and gaining continual design feedback from each other. 

By working together, each group is able to learn with and from one another. Last week, each group focused on using LEDs and motors to make their creations light up and move. This week, the focus of the day was to incorporate a distance sensor into their projects, which allowed for some interesting and creative ideas. One team, Team KAEY, worked together to create a cardboard pokemon creation named Magikarp.

They wanted their distance sensor to detect them throwing a “pokeball” at their pokemon. This would activate its tail to move back and forth, have the LED flash different colors, and play the pokemon theme song.

Team KAEY learned a lot while working on this project, such as how to incorporate sounds they found online, how to make the LEDs blink, and how to set distance blocks in Scratch for the sensor. They also learned how specific they had to be when programming. They realized that their program doesn’t know to make the movements stop after one second -- they had to be very intentional and tell it to do that.


They struggled with troubleshooting and making sure their Magikarp could actually move and that the sensors worked. Every time they wanted to show off their project, it seemed like something would fall apart. But they looked at it as a learning opportunity and felt successful when it all came together in the end.

During their mini-launch, Team KAEY realized that their peers noticed the color scheme and design of their project, but they didn’t necessarily know how to make it work. They’re planning on figuring out ways to make the functions and instructions more clear next week when we showcase our robots to museum visitors. They understand that their project has to be accessible, especially for younger children, and want to make sure it's a project they can enjoy. 

Overall, it was a successful and creative second day at TechHive! 

Check out other fun designs that were brought to life:

TechHive Fall 2017: Day 1

Last week, we welcomed our new Fall 2017 cohort for the TechHive Internship! We have a group of 20 ambitious high schoolers ready to join us every Saturday from September 23 to December 2. They will spend the first few weeks learning skills related to programming, electronics, fabrication, and app development along with design essentials. After they have mastered these skills, they will work on a final project that culminates in an interactive museum exhibit for the Lawrence Hall of Science!

We started our first day by teaching the interns about the basics of prototyping and programming by designing a Robot Petting Zoo -- mechanical animals that are triggered to move, blink, and make sounds when they are “fed” by children visiting the zoo. 

This classic TechHive projects teaches:

  • The essentials of physical computing using MIT’s Scratch programming language and Hummingbird Duo microcontrollers.

  • The process of physical prototyping, collaboration, and design thinking.

  • That cardboard is the heart of TechHive!

After learning all the basics, we engaged in Design Sprints, an innovative yet structured activity geared to quickly sketch, prototype, launch, and learn about our cardboard creatures. These one hour long sessions force interns to prioritize the mechanics of their prototype over the creative aspects (for now).

They started out by discussing and sketching our their IDEA. They focused on LEDs (placement, color and blinking speed), sounds, and movement. They came up with some fun, easy to implement ideas

Next, they quickly had to PROTOTYPE their creation by coding, building, and troubleshooting their idea as a team.


And the fun part was the MINI-LAUNCH where each group set up their “finished” prototype for other groups to try out.


The most important part, however, is the LEARN aspect of the Design Sprint. Interns focused on giving each other constructive feedback that would allow them to iterate and improve their design for next week, where they will continue perfecting their creations to test them out on our younger museum visitors.

It was a fun and productive first day of our Fall 2017 Internship. We can’t wait to showcase everything our interns will be working on during the next 9 weeks!

TechHive Spring 2017: Day 1

After some brief introductions, we launched right into Day 1 with a Scratch/ Hummingbird tutorial. The goal was to get everyone up to speed on some basic engineering and programming concepts. We achieved this by putting on a Robot Petting Zoo. A Robot Petting Zoo is a concept that we've been developing in TechHive for the past several years. The Interns have 6 hours to design and program an animatronic, cardboard pet that will delight the young visitors of the Lawrence Hall of Science. It is a simple design challenge with endless possibility. 

The key skills that the interns learned from the Robot Petting Zoo were basic Scratch programming, introduction to microcontrollers (Hummingbird), introduction to servos, introduction to LEDs, rapid prototyping, critique principles, cardboard cutting techniques and simple mechanisms.

The TechHive interns will present their robot pets to the visitors of the Lawrence Hall of Science at 2pm next week. Wish them luck!

TechHive Winter 2017: Day 10!

Hey Everyone!
Here what you missed: In the last three weeks we wrapped applying our new skills to finish up Jamie, our one of a kind Explainer Robot!

  • Some of the skills we utilized:
  • Basic Bread Boarding
  • Iterative Design Process
  • Arduino (the coding language)
  • Humming Bird Arduino Board
  • Coding in Scratch
  • Coding basics in Arduino
  • Troubleshooting code
  • Prototyping
  • Application of Specialized Servo Motors
  • Countersinking
  • Basic WoodShop
  • Abstraction and PseudoCode

All in all it's been a successful and knowledge filled push towards are final goal and we got there as a team! Kudos to everyone involved and thank you again for all your support!

TechHive Winter 2017: Day 5

Today was all about the various stages of design.

Design → Build → Test→ Repeat! 

In the bottom row interns finished the last stages of our first group build. Attaching eyes, re-attaching them after they fell off, checking that wires were plugged in and skillfully handling all the minutiae that goes into making sure our robots work perfectly!

The top row engaged in a completely different part of the design process (the funnest part actually): Design! Groups worked together to redesign, an intern named, tool called "The Status Prism" that helps facilitators figure out how students are doing in their tasks from a quick glance. From learning the basics of breadboards and circuitry all the way through executing the their ideas with cardboard and wires interns got a very detailed look into design this week!

TechHive Winter 2017: Day 4

For the last few weeks interns have worked to develop their angler fish as they learn how to use variable, if/then statements and coding in scratch. This week we dove into the basics of breadboards. Learning how to read circuitry schimata as well as code in the language arduino, the group worked and troubleshooted thoroughly to reach their goals.

For the building portion, interns came close to finalizing their robots, finishing up the eyebrows to move onto creating the eye as well as attach the head to the body of the robot. Then finally moving onto wiring up their robots.


TechHive Winter 2017: Day 3

Last week, TechHive interns learned how to use variables, loops and If/ Then statements to bring their anger fish to life. This week, they got to put their new skills into practice as they iterated upon their angler designs. Interns created moving eyes for their fish, allowing them to experiment with emotive characters. Creating the illusion of emotion is central to making a successful animatronic character.

Additionally, interns assembled the eyebrow and eyelid mechanisms for their Explainer Bot. They also glued together the bodies and the platform for their Explainer Bot using an Acrylic Cement. Understanding how to work with acrylic will be essential when the interns begin to design their own motorized feature for their robot.



TechHive Winter 2017: Day 2

Today we began to assemble the Explainer Bot. While most of the Explainer Bot pieces were laser cut in advance, some components still needed to be drilled and counter sunk. For this, everyone was trained how to safely use a drill press. 

TechHive interns also got experience using soldering irons. The interns soldered leads onto the LED array that will become their Explainer Both's mouth. Knowing how to solder properly is a key skill when working with small electronics.

Half of the day was spent building the intern's programming and design skills through the creation of an animatronic angler fish. Interns made LEDs blink and Servos move using a Hummingbird Controller and Scratch programming. They also got a distance sensor to work using variable and loops in Scratch. These are the same tools they will use to make their animatronic Explainer Bots come to life.