During the 2015 Robot Petting Zoo, 10 robots delighted over 300 visitors at the Children's Creativity Museum. This year, we wanted to expand our reach and allow even more teen designers to exhibit their robotic creations. Our goal was to have 40 teens design, build and program 20 mechanical pets. Each interactive pet would be triggered to move, blink and make sounds when "fed" by children visiting the zoo.
To train 40 teens to be robot zookeepers, we broke the session into 2 parts. First, we recruited 20 teen interns for 5 consecutive weekends of skill building and professional development. We built their computer programming and mechanical design skills through a series of workshops, and we took the interns to the Bay Area Maker Faire so they could experience a large scale science exhibition for themselves.
We then recruited 20 Robot Petting Zoo makeathon participants. These teens took part in a 16 hour intensive build session leading up to the public RPZ exhibition. Our interns, who had spent the past five weeks learning how to build robotic pets, helped us train this new set of teens. With the combined hard work of all 40 interns and participants, we reached our goal of creating 20 unique robotic pets that could interact with visitors.
Over 500 visitors filled the TechHive to experience the Robot Petting Zoo, making it our most visited educational experience of the 2015- 2016 year. Click the images below to get a closer look at these amazing robot pets.