Programmable Building Blocks

January 2018 - May 2018 // Teaching Assistant

This is the last of three community science projects, the first being SwarmBots, and the second being a Weather Balloon.

In continued partnership with Fremont Academy for Engineering and Design, we designed and fabricated ‘programmable building blocks'. By combining 3D printing and electronics, we made Arduino controllable lego blocks. The design of the blocks split into two main categories: (1) custom fabrication, in which new lego-compatible blocks were 3D-printed in order to house Arduinos, sensors, etc, and (2) augmentation, in which copper tape was used to transform normal lego-compatible blocks into current-carrying wire.

As a TA for this project, I aided Pomona students with technical aspects of their projects, helped facilitate meetings at the high school, and planned and executed several workshops for Pomona and Fremont students over the course of the semester. In one workshop, we augmented lego-compatible blocks with copper tape and motors to create a build-you-own vehicle kit in which students coudl build a circuit to drive a car using only lego blocks. 

The final projects were highly individual, with each group creating something different. This news segment provides a student perspective on the partnership and features some of the projects.

I built the lego-compatible housing below to hold an Arduino Uno or Hummingbird Arduino, which the students used to drive their projects:

The images below show prototypes of a car building kit in which the circuit is built by placing lego blocks.  This is done by simply augmenting the blocks with copper tape, allowing students to build functional vehicles and have fun customizing their car with mechanical structures.