You know you’re a geek when . . .

R2-D2. . . you get your very own R2-D2 robot for your birthday. And, er . . . you’re not exactly turning eleven.

Well, nonetheless, my R2 rocks. He chirps and whistles, goes on patrol, plays messages, guards your room (er, I mean your house), and he can even do the tango. And he’s not remote control—he has a heat sensor, a motion sensor, and a pretty clever electronic brain that obeys voice commands. Except he doesn’t always obey my commands. Seems my R2 unit is a lot like the one from the movies. He often disobeys, even shaking his head and turning his back on me!

Well, there was no doubt that I would bring R2 into my classes to share with my students. By happy coincidence, in some of my classes I’ve been teaching a book called The Cabinet of Wonders, a wonderful steampunk-style fantasy that features a little tin spider called Astrophil (pretty much a robot). So, with R2 in tow, I delivered a presentation on the history of robots to my kids and then  set them to work on designing their own robots.

This week has been Phase 1: brainstorming and design. The students are coming up with a “blueprint” for a robot, a style of communication, and a short “instruction manual.” You can see some of the results in the photos below. Of course, you can also see that poor R2 was subjected to all sorts of torture—including the fashion sensibilities of Julie and Siyeon. R2 bore it with as much dignity as possible.

Robot Design

R2D2 kitted out.

Robot worksheets.

R2 helps a student.

Next week, we BUILD! I’m not sure exactly how the construction will go, but I will make sure I post photos. Of course, after the building part, the students will write a story based on their robots. Our classes are actually wrapping up for the term,  so I guess these stories will have to be short, by necessity. Otherwise, I think this activity could really prompt some epic tales!

In the meantime, it’s got me thinking . . . sooner or later my own crazy inventor, Ratchet Ringtail, will have to come up with some sort of robot. I wonder what he should build?

3 thoughts on “You know you’re a geek when . . .

  1. I am now very jealous! R2 ROCKS! Great project idea!!!

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