Outreach

Community outreach is an important part of the Soft Robotics Toolkit mission. The Toolkit has hosted speaking events and workshops both locally and abroad as well as collaborated with the Harvard Ed Portal and Harvard SEAS outreach.

The Toolkit workshops help to pilot test the quality and age appropriateness of our instructional materials. Interacting with students helps us determine what they find most enjoyable. The Toolkit is continually adding to it’s collection of proven instructional guides and as we conduct future workshop they will inform us as we develop more educational content.

2017 Workshops

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Harvard Ed Portal Workshop
Age group: 10-14 | When: July 2017
In the second year of the Ed Portal’s soft robotics week participants built soft robotic ‘fingers’ using cardboard molds, silicone and string which they were able to connect to a small motor and pulley to create a simple robotic hand. Students also fabricated soft stretchable strain sensors, pneumatic wrist braces made of heat-weldable fabric and imagined their own soft robots in a design thinking exercise. 

   

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Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Inspirefest Family Fringe Event Workshop
Age group: all ages | When: July 2017
Inspirefest is a festival event in Ireland focused on providing workshops for kids in the fields of engineering, computer science and maker culture. The event hosts numerous workshops with hands-on design activities such as making board games, learning to code and making soft robots. We hosted a lecture and a workshop for attendees introducing pneumatic actuators. Attendees used balloons, different stretchy and non-stretchy fabrics as well as hand pumps to inflate the balloons and depending on the materials used, saw various type of movements performed. 
   

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Project Teach Lecture 
Age group: 10-14 | When: March 2017
This year’s Project Teach saw students from Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn, New York travel to Boston for an afternoon of campus tours, lectures and insight into college life. We hosted a lecture on soft robot applications, research, site content and what educational paths and skills can lead to a career in robots and engineering.

2016 Workshops

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UTEC Workshop 
Age group: undergrads | When: July 2016
Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología in Lima, Peru was the site for a soft robotic workshop focused on bringing the Toolkit content to a global following and testing the quality of the Toolkit’s educational content with an international audience. The workshop participants were guided in a design activity where they were able to design, prototype and present a conceptual design with the hopes that the exposure could prepare students with the skills needed to build upon work already published on the Toolkit site.

   

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Tech Savvy Workshop 
Age group: 10-14 | When: July 2016
Tech Savvy is a program co-hosted and sponsored by many institutions in the Boston area including: The Museum of Science, Boston University, Emmanuel College, Girls Scouts of MA, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Science Clubs for Girls, Simmons College, Tech Boston, UMass Boston, IBM, Wentworth Institute of Technology and WGBH. The event is a weeklong program focusing on keeping girls entering the 7th and 8th grade interested in STEM activities and curriculum. We held a workshop on mold making for the 4-fingered gripper where participants could work with their peers to create soft robots.

   
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Ed Portal Workshop 
Age group: 10-14 | When: July 2016
The Harvard Ed Portal, a collaborative partnership involving Harvard, the Allston-Brighton community, and the City of Boston, is the Allston-Brighton community outreach program dedicated to providing extracurricular, art programs, and personal and professional development programs where students can interface with Harvard undergrads and graduates. We held a one week program to teach the design process. Student were introduced to soft robotics through various design activities, including building molds, robotic components as well as participating in conceptual design projects and imaginative exercises.

   
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CRLS Workshop 
Age group: 14-18 | When: March 2016
An after-school workshop run at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school was an opportunity for us to help spread soft robotics to high school students. These students had some experience in robotics from their core curriculum or from the robotics programs and clubs at the school. The workshop aimed to show these students the low-cost and easily available construction methods used for the mold-making such as cardboard, tape and hot glue, in hopes that it may inspire them in their own projects.

   
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Apprentice Learning ​​​​
Age group: 14 | When: March 2016
Apprentice Learning is a program that gives eight graders in the Boston Public Schools exposure to various career paths through short apprenticeships and hands-on learning. work within the industries they shadow. Working with this program, we organized a visit to the Wyss Institute where students participated in a workshop where students made soft pneumatic actuators and experimented with various types of materials such as ribbon, fabric and kevlar cord to control the movement of the actuators.

   

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Project Teach Lecture 
Age group: 10-14 | When: March 2016
Project Teach is a Harvard SEAS program for local 6th-8th graders get to tour Harvard͛s campus, attend lectures from Harvard researchers, and get a feel for college life to inspire aspirations for higher education. The program included visits with undergraduates, classroom tours and a lecture where we spoke to students about soft robotics, the applications for the emerging field as well as the importance of higher education for pursuing this career path. The lecture included demonstrations of robotic components and at the conclusion of the lecture students played with the soft robot components that are published on the Toolkit site.

2015 Workshops

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Artemis Project 
Age group: 14 | When: July 2015
The Artemis Project is a five-week summer program run by Boston University for rising 9th grade girls focused on computer science, robotics and electronics. As part of the program, participants toured various local universities where they heard from guest speakers and attended lectures to learn about real-world applications for science and engineering. As part of the visit to Harvard SEAS, we set up a crash course on soft robotics to help participants learn about two part molding processes and making the Soft Gripper, a 4-fingered gripper able to inflate and pick up small objects.