Children Develop Robots at ITMO.KIDS Technopark
15 school children attended the first summer school organized by ITMO.KIDS, a technopark for children at ITMO University. Over the course of a week, they made presentations and learned the basics of 3D modeling, robotics, project management, and design. For many of them, this was the first time they tried their hand at soldering and working with high-precision equipment. Lectures and workshops were conducted by ITMO staff and students. The participants worked on three projects designed to facilitate human activities in various fields, from animal feeding and drawing to uranium mining. As the event came to an end, participants presented their projects to the jury.
The Robofeeder 9600 project, which features an automatic feeder for pets, took first place. The system allows you to feed your pet whether you're away on vacation or getting home late from work. The feeder works with any kind of pet food, and you can set it to feed your pet regularly. You just have to put your pet’s food into the feeder, after which the system starts working. You can set the feeding schedule and the amount of food per meal. The system works on the Arduino Leonardo platform. The developers now plan to fit the device with a camera and make it possible to control the system with a mobile app, letting users watch their pet using a smartphone.
“I always try to take part in various educational events and competitions. For one, I regularly take part in national competitions for school kids. I once bumped into a post on VK about the ITMO.KIDS summer school and decided to give it a try. I’m interested in programming and robotics. When thinking about the idea for our project, we were choosing between a quadcopter and an automatic climate control system for greenhouses but ended up designing a feeder. We acquired many useful skills during this summer school, such as working on a laser printer, making presentations and websites and even soldering. I’m going to take part in this event next summer as well,” shared Dmitriy Grushin, eighth-grade school student.
Second place went to the team that developed a prototype robot-artist using servounits and a servomotor. The robot creates images using a writing device placed into a manipulator. The creators of this project also plan to make their robot controllable via Wi-Fi. Such a robot can be used for quick application and creation of images, as well as programmed to place signatures on various paperwork.
Third place went to the team that developed the Haulers project, a small-scale 1:72 prototype of a system designed to lift various hazardous cargo. The idea is that a special cart autonomously moves cargo from a lower to a higher point. For instance, when ore at a uranium mine needs to be moved up a mountain. The motorized cart moves up a slope, while a special robot awaits at the summit and offloads the cargo for further processing.
“Our main goal for the school was to show school kids that designing your own devices is interesting and exciting. I think we’ve aced that goal. It’s all in their hands now: they know how to set objectives, work in teams and set priorities. I’m sure that the skills they’ve acquired here will come in handy for them later in life. Who knows, perhaps one day these kids’ inventions will change the world,” says Alexey Shchekoldin, head of ITMO.KIDS.