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.

2021 Workshops

MassRobotics MassRobotics 4th Annual Block Party
Age group: All ages | when: October 2nd, 2021
The 4th annual Robotics Block Party took place in the Boston Seaport district where thousands of attendees came to see the exhibits. Booths from both universities and companies displayed some of the latest innovations happing in robotics today. The Biodesign lab showcased their soft robotic glove for neuromuscular rehabilitation and well as various Soft Robotics Toolkit demos. We met so many enthusiastic parents, children, students, and industry professionals and look forward to potentially connecting on future collaborations.
Mississippi Robotics Mississippi Robotics
Age group: 15 - 17 | when: September 4th, 2021
A group of high school students accompanied by their parents and instructors from Mississippi Robotics visited the Biodesign lab to learn about the soft robotic research being conducted in the lab. The Soft Robotics Toolkit team gave a tour of the core lab space as well as the motion capture lab. We presented work related to the Soft Robotics Toolkit, exosuits, and other wearable systems being developed. At the conclusion of the visit, we provided the group with some materials and prototypes to get started in soft robotics and we look forward to collaborating with Mississippi Robotics as they start their journey into the field of soft robotics.
Navajo Tech Navajo Technical University
Age group: 18 - 19 | when: August 5th, 2021
A group of Navajo Technology University (NTU) engineering students accompanied by Professor Alden Yellowhorse, visited the Biodesign Lab to engage in different aspects related to soft robotics with an aim to uncover potential synergistic opportunities for NTU’s new mechanical engineering program. The Soft Robotics Toolkit team introduced the NTU group to various introductory soft robotic kits which highlight unique concepts and methods specific to soft robotics including, silicone molding, garment design, tendon actuation, electromagnetic actuation, and pneumatic actuation as novel ways of fabricating and controlling robots. NTU hopes to assemble a soft robotics outreach program and we look forward to collaborating on this effort.
Nat Geo MA Technology and Robotics Workshop with National Geographic
Age group: 14-18 | When: July 28th 2021
As part of this summer program, 32 high school students, interested in engineering, visited the Biodesign Lab. These students are familiar with robotics in general, and interested in learning more about the field. The Soft Robotics Toolkit team had a wide range of activities and devices for students to learn about and interact with in a hands-on way. The students learned about soft robotic actuators, sensors, and the mechanisms used to control them. The team further showed how these tools can be implemented into assistive technology to improve people's daily lives. The students got a chance to ask researchers questions about the field of soft robotics and the benefits of this technology.
India India Pilot
Age group: 12 - 14 | When: February - June, 2021
The Soft Robotics Toolkit team conducted their first pilot of the Tendon-Actuated Soft Gripper kit over a 5 month period in a hybrid model (remote and in-person) across multiple locations in India. The team collaborated with the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog which is the government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. AIM assisted in organizing 6 schools in New Delhi, Pune, and Bihar where our team deployed 72 kits to 60 students and 12 teachers. Our team ran a week-long teacher workshop prior to the pilot kick-off where we prepared the teachers to independently conduct a soft robotics course which included our hardware kits as well as a 13 module curriculum. At the conclusion of the pilot, we held a competition amongst all the schools to design their own soft robotic grippers. Our team joined design reviews to provide feedback to the students along the way. At the end of the competition awards were present by AIM’s Director.

2020 Workshops

pre pilot Pre-Pilot: University Laboratory High School, Urbana Illinois
Age group: 13 - 14 | When: November 2020
As the Soft Robotics Toolkit team planned for the full-scale pilot scheduled to kick-off at the beginning of 2021 in India, the team held a smaller scale pre-pilot with chemistry teacher, David Bergandine, at University Laboratory High School located in Urbana Illinois. This collaboration was arranged by Holly Golecki (Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). The goal of this pre-pilot was to test our kit and curriculum in a remote situation due to COVID. The pilot consisted of two parts: a teacher workshop and teacher-facilitated lessons for students. The teacher workshop was made up of 8-hour sessions over 4 days. The student workshop lasted 3 weeks with 8th and 9th graders who interacted with prototypes of our Tendon-Actuated Soft Gripper kit. This was our second time supporting an educator who independently taught a course on soft robotics utilizing our materials.

2019 Workshops

NH Techfest NH Techfest
Age group: All ages | When: November: 2nd, 2019
The NH Techfest took place at Salem High School in New Hampshire and hosted a variety of technology companies and initiatives such as DEKA Research, Bose, FBI, and First Robotics. Coming straight from the successful workshops in India, the Soft Robotics Toolkit showcased their most up to date kit and presented a video of the Indian workshops to highlight the widespread outreach. Great connections were made with local New Hampshire schools with hopes of future collaborations.
Delhi Delhi, India Workshops
Age group: 11 - 14 | when: October 14 - 18th, 2019
The Soft Robotics Toolkit held workshops in two schools in Delhi, India. The goal of the workshops was to introduce students to soft robotics and to inspire them to find interest in STEM fields. We took this opportunity to test our newly design instruction manuals, as well as a newly developed magazine for providing insights into the concepts that make up soft robotics. We had overwhelmingly positive feedback and made important discoveries to further develop the kit to provide students and teachers with a rich learning experience.
Explo 2019 EXPLO Workshop
Age group: 14 - 15 | when: July 24th, 2019
The bioengineering program for young women, EXPLO, returned this summer to experience the newest version of the Soft Robotics Toolkit. They enjoyed discovering soft robotics by casting silicone and building a manually actuated soft gripper. Great discussions and great feedback, we hope to see them back in 2020 for the third year in a row!
Robot Block Party Robot Block Party
Age group: All ages | When: October 20th 2019
The MassRobotics Robot Block Party is a one-day, hands-on event open to the public in downtown Boston. The event features booths set up from universities and companies to showcase interesting robotics research and products for the general public. The Robot Block Party takes place during Massachusetts STEM week and has hundreds of local children come through to see the exhibits. The toolkit's booth showcases the new all-in-one instructional kits for education. Kids have a great time at the booth using soft robotic grippers to pick and place objects of differing shapes and sizes.
Acera Acera Innovator Symposium
Age group: All ages | When: October 24th 2019
The Acera Innovator Symposium allows students to meet scientists, tech leaders, and inventors from local universities and companies. Talks from CEOs and PhD scientists are interspersed with hands-on maker stations showcasing current work in science and robotics. The toolkit's booth again showcases the new all-in-one instructional kits for education. Kids have a great time at the booth using soft robotic grippers to pick and place objects of differing shapes and sizes.

2018 Workshops

Age group: 13-16 | When: July 19th 2018
EXPLO is a summer program in bioengineering for young women in 9th-11th grade. Hosted at Wheaton College, the participants travel to area schools in and around Boston to experience workshops, lectures, and lab visits to help foster an interest in science. As part of the program, 15 participants traveled to Harvard for a workshop, participating in the SDM finger and pneumatic muscle activity to coincide with their bioengineering courses. Each student made two soft actuators and tested actuation powered by one artificial muscles to determine how this actuator could be utilized to tackle various objects encountered.

2017 Workshops

Educators Workshop MassRobotics Educator Workshop:
Age groups: Educators of various levels | When: October 11th 2017
Educators from around Boston came to MassRobotics for a workshop with the Soft Robotics Toolkit showcasing the Resources for Educators materials published on Softroboticstoolkit.com. The workshop focused on training educators in the newly developed fabrication guides for educators so that they could better integrate STEM materials into their classrooms or after school activities. The workshop took participants through the process of planning, building and sealing a cardboard mold as well as becoming familiar with the silicone casting process. In the end the educators made SDM Finger actuators, a lesson typically used to teach students about mold making, geometry and locomotion.
REU Workshop REU Workshop
Age groups: Undergraduates | When: July 13th - 14th 2017
The Soft Robotics toolkit held a workshop with the Harvard Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. The summer students travel to Harvard from universities around the world to gain additional research experience and bring the lessons back to their home institutions. The workshop gave an introductory soft robotics lessons and walked them through the process of creating a soft gripper, a simple example of a pneumatic actuator. One student from the program took this newfound knowledge to his home university in Puerto Rico and conducted a workshop within his engineering department.
img_20170831_110534000.jpg Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia - UPCH Workshop
Age group: 11-12 | When: August 2017
Soft Robotics Toolkit partners from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) hosted a workshop in the IEP Maria Goretti High School in Peru. The workshop focused on helping younger Peruvian students become aware of the field of engineering through hands-on construction and activities. Participants made pneumatic actuators with embedded soft sensors that could be co-molded and tested with a multi-meter. 

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. 


soft_robotics.jpgImage: 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. 


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


Apprentice Learning ​​​​
Age group: 14 | When: March 2016
Apprentice Learning is a program that gives eighth 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.



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


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.