Robotics is an amazing channel to express one’s knowledge of science and mathematics and put it to test. Staford imparts education that children can use and practice. Interesting principles and laws of science straight out of the textbooks are put to test in the Robotics Laboratory. And all this happens as a part of the day to day activities in the regular school time-table. On one such day, the students of Class 6 experienced 90 minutes of challenge and excitement in their Robotics class, when they were given a challenge to design a ‘Photo-phobic Robot’.
The word photophobic comes from the roots “photo” and “phobia.” The word “photo” refers to “light” while the meaning of “phobia” is “to be afraid of,” or “a fear of something,” Therefore anything which is afraid of light and moves away it is said to have photophobia. So can you fancy a robot which is afraid of light? Well, this was the challenge- the students were required to design a photophobic robot- a robot that avoids light and moves away from light the moment it senses light anywhere around it.
As a precursor to this activity, the children were taught about light and sensors. The lesson explained how we are blanketed by several electromagnetic waves around us and that only a small part of these waves which is perceivable through our eyes is called light. A unique feature of light is, that it always travels in a straight line. Once they were familiar with the concepts and properties of light, the children were then taught about how photo sensors can detect light, and produce current depending on the amount of light incident on them. They were taught to observe how the current varies if the distance between the light source and the photo sensor changes. Finally, they were taught to calibrate the photo sensor to find the threshold value.
Armed with this knowledge, the budding scientists, our young Stafordians, readied themselves to take on the challenge and test their knowledge of science and mathematics by designing a Photophobic Robot. First, the students assembled the basic structure of the Photophobic Robot and carefully mounted the photo sensor, in such a way that it could sense the light easily. They then programmed the Photophobic Robot. After burning the program to their brick, it was time to try out the efficacy of their Robot. So, out came the flash lights in the dark room and the pleasurable experiment began. The children directed light beams on the Robot, and to their thrill and proud satisfaction our young Stafordians found their robots running away from light. Yes, they did it!
The day’s challenge ended with students enthusiastically testing their robots through different sources of light placed at different distances from the Robot. A lesson well learnt, a task accomplished and a mission fulfilled!