STEAM day is coming up at a local special needs school and I wanted to bring something fun, engineering-y but artsy too. The kids have various degrees of fine motor control so I knew I would need something as simple as pushing a button, but some of the kids are also pretty motor typical so I wanted something a little more challenging. I didn’t want to do anything that was just software, it had to be kinetic and this is what I came up with.
My local microcenter had two Robotic arm kids from OWI, a hydraulic one and an electric one, on sale for $25 each so I snatched them up.
Putting the robots together wasn’t too bad, it took about 5 hours total, but when I was done it became obvious that the control box for the electric bot was never going to work. Even for me, the sticks didn’t work half the time, but luckily it was little more then SPST-NO switches switching positive and negative common rails to each motor.
I took apart the control box, made a quick box out of acrylic and inserted some arcade joystick switches into it, wiring up the buttons to replace the old sticks. With the bots done, I bolted them down to a piece of MDF, whipped up a few boards to hold piece of paper in front of the bots and then took the whole assembly to school.
The project was a hit and kids of all abilities were able to make a little art with some robots.