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¨  Where can I find parts to build a robot and can you suggest a place for the programming as well?
  What are the common physics concepts that can be taught to high school students with application of robotics?

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I am 10 years old and I am interested in going into the field of Robotics Engineering.  My mom and I read your suggestions for the 6 year old interested in robots.  I read an article with her on ASIMO as well, and I would like to try and build a simple model of that.  Where can I find parts to start building one of my own and can you suggest a place for the programming as well?

ANSWER from Mike Bastoni on 28 September 2006:
Building a simple model of ASIMO is quite an aspiration.  ASIMO is a bi-pedal humanoid robot, that ranks as one of the most sophisticated production robot designs of its kind.  Bi-pedal robots are simply not.....simple.

Admittedly ASIMO looks and acts like (we collectively think) a robot should look and act like.  It resembles a personal C3PO, or a Nestor NS-5 series robot, both famous bi-pedal humanoid (fictional) robots, and very sophisticated.

I'm guessing you are attracted by the bi-pedal humanoid nature of ASIMO so I will point you in some directions that you might consider....  I will admit that I do not know of many bipedal robot kits.

1.) Robosapien.  This is not a "Build it Kit". It is a pre-assembled bi-pedal robot toy. This is a simple introduction to the mechanisms and possibilities of bi-pedal robots.

2.) The Parallax Toddler Robot kit.  http://www.parallax.com/detail.asp?product_id=27311

This is a bi-pedal robot kit, and likely as "Simple" as programmable bi-pedal robots get.  I would not pass this off as simple though.  This is a well designed bi-pedal experimenter's platform that can serve as a great introduction to two-legged robots.

3.) Robonova.  Simply put, these things are big on the WOW factor.  Check out websites and video clips of the Robot One action. http://www.hitecrobotics.com/robonova/overview.htm

There are other kits out there...enjoy discovering them...and get a mentor!  Most of us have or had one in our lives.  They are knowledgeable and caring people who share your interests and passions and who help direct the trajectory of our lives.

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What are the common physics concepts that can be taught to high school students with application of robotics?

ANSWER from Mike Bastoni on 16 August 2006:
Yes, students who involve themselves with the study of complex electro-mechanical systems can in fact gain many wonderful insights into the workings of the physical world.  Often the desire to create complex machines is what drives all of us high school students to learn more so that we can construct more capable mechanisms and machines.  There is an exciting learning dynamic that takes place whenever we find ourselves consumed by the joy of discovery.  Discovery fuels learning, learning leads to discovery.  If robots create that dynamic for you, as they have for me, then the answer to your question is yes...yes...absolutely yes.

Are robots the only avenue or even the best avenue through which we might gain understanding about how the world works?  I dunno.  Certainly robots have great educational potential.  I have fashioned a great deal of my life around this premise, but I know there are many paths to knowledge, achievement and self-satisfaction.  It's not robots that open the doors of our perceptions; it is our passion that provides us with the energy to learn and to do.  If robots fire your passion, they are a great way to become familiar with common, and not so common physics concepts.

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2 July 2007

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