(by Andrew Coy)
5 ideas for using Robot Diaries
Animal Farm Characters (English)
In this Robot Diary, students would create a character from George Orwell's novel Animal Farm. The character would need to communicate using both spoken and written word as well as have at least two emotional states. This project would be completed in tandem with the work already in the curriculum for the student's English class, providing greater depth to a student's understanding and empathy for one or more of the characters. One potential robot could be a horse that is completing some heavy task and then is also sad, talking about how after his ability to work was used up he was sold to be made into glue.
Branches of Government (Social Studies)
Students would have a wide range of freedom with this assignment. The criteria would simply be that their representation had to speak specifically about one of the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative, or Judicial -- and potentially about the media). The robot would need communicate two different functions of the branch it is depicting. A potential project could include a judge with a gavel declaring a law unconstitutional in one sequence and sentencing a criminal to prison in another. This robot would be completed in close collaboration with a government teacher.
Drawing on the theatrical nature of robotics, this diary would portray an interconnected ecosystem. The robot would need to present at least two aspects of interconnectedness. One example would be a board displaying a sequence of LED lights moving from one step to another, with grass being eaten by a antelope (who's head moves up and down) being eaten by a lion who dies and becomes nutrients for the soil. The second level of interconnectedness could show the water cycle as it goes through the three states from vapor to ice to water.
Endangered Animals (Science)
After learning about the various threats to biodiversity students would research and create a representation of an endangered animal species. The representation would have at least two states of being: one showing the animal in thriving, healthy conditions; the other showing in present, poorer conditions. The robot must also communicate some possible action that could be taken by humans to mitigate the causes of it's current endangerment.
Historical Hero's (Advisory)
Students research and select an historical hero from a given list. This individual is then represented portraying some positive aspect of their legacy. This project would not necessarily need to be done in conjunction with another class but could stand alone as a positive role-model initiative within a technology class. Student's role models could include such individuals as Mother Theresa, with audio quotes and gestures demonstrating her dedication to caring for others.