Together with colleagues from Microsoft UK and Microsoft Research I attended the Think Computer Science event today.
Think Computer Science is an annual event by Microsoft Research in Cambridge, to inspire local high school students to follow a scientific or engineering education path. Over 600 children attended the day of special lectures by leading industry figures, and the exhibition of technology wizardry.
The event opened with a keynote between the planes of the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, by Microsoft Research Chief Scientist Chris Bishop.
For may contribution I took my SeaPerch prototype, Sphero, Eddie and A1DW and my Robo-Float.
Eddie was able to run safely under the aircraft as the Kinect sensor could see the red cord used to cordon off the plane exhibits from visitors. This cord is only about 5mm thick, but amazingly the Kinect could see it, and the obstacle avoidance program I ran on Eddie enabled it to wander about, staying within the safe area beneath the planes.
The SciTech club SeaPerch project is coming along well. I have been able to obtain two of the original books describing the SeaPerch construction. It is one of those fabulous books full of drawings and practical projects to explore building submarines and underwater remotely operated vehicles. The picture shows the SeaPerch and the full 15 metre tether used to power and control the three thrusters (port, starboard and vertical).
The last picture above is the first public picture of my robo-float. It is a very simple cylinder design, incorporating a linear actuator that can pull open and push closed a syringe contained within the body of the float. The robo-float is ballasted so that the addition of the syringe full of water causes the float to sink. On expelling the syringe content, the float is then positively buoyant and rises again to the surface.
The control electronics were easily assembled from a .Net Gadgeteer kit. The Gadgeteer is a fast prototyping, microprocessor based, electronics fabrication technology developed by Microsoft Research Cambridge, in response to the need of the Microsoft researchers to have a fast way to prototype environmental sensors. The processor board, RGB LED, Power supply board and control switch all fit neatly into the top of the Robo-Float. The end caps and section headers (in black) I created on my new lathe
Our exhibition area looked pretty impressive:
But was soon overrun by interested students:
It was a fun day out for all