Mini robots offer science challenge for IHS GEMS

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

ISABELLA — Robots that fit in the palm of their hands were a source of challenging fun for Girls Engaged in Math and Science students at Isabella High School.

IHS teacher Donna Mayfield purchased the mini-robots with a Bright Ideas Grant from the Central Alabama Electric Cooperative.

Isabella’s elementary GEMS program is for female students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades.

The Bristlebots are powered by a single battery and can be customized with googly eyes and pipe cleaners.

After constructing the robots, students attempted to race them.

Problems arose when the little bots started going in circles rather than straight lines.

De’Asia Wilson said a friend showed her that pulling the battery section back farther, so that it hung off the back end of the robot fixed this issue.

Wilson said she thought this worked because it changed the distance between the edge and the connecting rubber band.

Angelina Rodriguez said positioning one of the connecting rubber bands toward the front of the robot and one towards the back helped it go straight because it balanced out the weight.

“They are complicated and you have to have a smart mind to work with them,” Rodriguez said.

During a GEMS meeting on March 20, the girls hypothesized and tested how many pennies they thought would stay on the robot.

Wilson, who has been in GEMS for two years, hypothesized that she would be able to fit two pennies on the robot.

“Two pennies are about the same size as the thing [robot], but it didn’t work,” Wilson said.

She was able to get one penny to stay on.

“The penny is about the same size as the battery, so it stayed on there better than the two did,” Wilson said.

Some other students had more success by wedging the pennies between the battery and the bristle portion of the bot. The highest number of pennies was five.

Rodriguez was able to get four to stay on her robot by putting two toward the back and two towards the front.

Wilson said she was excited to work with the robots.

“I thought it would be very cool to see what they can do,” Wilson said

Mayfield said she heard about the robots from her niece who is studying biomedicine.
“What appealed to me is that it was small. It was affordable to let them have their own little robot so when they go on to LeCroy or high school they have already had some experience controlling a device like this,” Mayfield said.
The company’s website provides suggestions for a variety of activities that can be completed with the robots.
She said the Bristlebots also provided creativity and problem solving opportunities.