Educators Workshop at Manylabs, May ’16

This workshop was three-hour workshop with fourteen (both informal and formal) educators at the Manylabs. It was the first user test of our design system with associated prototyping techniques. The primary goal was accordingly to see if the tool and techniques are useable and useful and figure out the strengths and weaknesses. As it was only a three-hour session, in order to save time on teaching how to program servo motors, we used our pre-programmed printed circuit board LocoTap to control servo motors. At the beginning, we showed a series of paper mechatronics examples, demonstrated how to use the design system, and handed out assembly instructions. We pre-cut all gears so when participants finished designing, they saved files to print and cut the part for the case and the linkages and we provided the selected size of gears. During the workshop, we tried to minimize stepping up to lead step by step and asked participants to try first only with given tutorials. When they asked for help, however, we provided support to solve their issues. We asked all participants to pair teams and gave a task to select either open-close or flapping movement, design their own movement by modifying parameters in the system, download and print the parts, and assemble basic structure following our instructions. We also asked to adapt the movement in their own ways. At the end of the workshop, we had a show and tell demo and video-recorded.

During the presentation, most of the participants pointed out that three hours (which ended up spending only a bit more than two hours for making) was too short. Participants were overall very engaged in the activity and actively presented their ideas, their work-in-progress, and difficulties they confronted. Those who didn’t complete the all also eagerly mentioned about their initial ideas in detail about where they wanted to adapt the movement they were building.