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Behind the Scenes: Let’s Take It One Straw At A Time

February 15, 2021

#Classroom Behind the ScenesEngineeringMarvellous Machines and MechanismsRobotics

“We want kids to be able to apply code to something really fun that challenges their creativity and at the same time, has real-life applications. In this course, their creativity really is the limit.”

One step at a time.

That’s usually the answer when we need to deal with big problems. Let’s tackle things one step at a time.

In this case, we teach kids to take on big questions and problems one straw at a time!

For kids ages 7-10, Marvelous Machines and Mechanisms is a fun-packed, play-based, hands-on introduction to the world of robotics, hardware, and engineering!  Build structures using Strawbees and then program it with a micro-controller known as the Quirkbot!  

Build amazing inventions like these:

mechanisms

With basically just straws:

… But how?!?

Let’s find out. We take you behind the scenes below with Swe & Shawn, our curriculum developers (or Rocket Launchers as we call them) who designed this beginner-friendly camp.

Swe:

“It started with the product team playing with and testing out different toys earlier in January. We found that we enjoyed Strawbees a lot. It has a lot of potential…you can teach physics, molecular structure, mechanics.

You can build a lot of things with it and there’s a lot of versatility in terms of learning objectives and outcomes.

The best part is that it’s so easy!”

It really is! Here’s our 3 step guide to building your first structure with Strawbees:

Strawbees

Step 1: Grab a straw (any plastic one will do, we use 100% recyclable and reusable straws because, duh.), grab a Strawbee and join ’em up.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif

Step 2: This is what a Quirkbot looks like. It’s a mini microcontroller board which can be programmed and used with various LEDs, sensors, and motors to build a robot.

Step 3: Use a simple block-based interface similar to Scratch to program your Quirkbot.

Strawbees

Step 4: Straws + Strawbees + Quirkbot = Tada! You’ve just built your own robot.

Swe:

“It’s really easy to prototype. You can build a model of something interesting like the Art Science Museum even. You just need straws of different lengths, the connectors are all provided in the kit.

I’ve found that kids really enjoy the challenge of building something like a catapult and trying to get it working.

It gets kids thinking about what they want to build, and trying to figure out how to get there.”

Strawbees


Shawn:

“A machine is basically a bunch of moving parts put together. It’s about figuring out how each part works and then how to get them working all together.

Your Strawbees structure is the same – you start with simple cubes and triangles, you put them all together to create a machine, and then you program the Quirkbot to get the parts to move.”

Swe:

“We cover a bit of structural engineering in this course, and we obviously touch on the programming aspects with servos, input output, LEDs. But it’s essentially a very broad-based introduction to STEAM (that’s Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, Math).”

Shawn:

“We want kids to be able to apply what they learnt in Scratch to something really fun that challenges their creativity and at the same time, has real-life applications.

In this course, their creativity really is the limit.”

Marvelous Machines and Mechanisms runs as holiday camp for kids ages 7-14 with or without prior coding experience, and it’s designed to get ’em excited about the wonderful world of robotics, engineering and programming. 

PS: No straws were harmed in the making of this course. All straws used are 100% recyclable and were reused, many, many times.