We have launched a basic Android application to control your LittleArm Arduino robot. Using the app you can add a bluetooth module to the LittleArm and then control its motion with your smartphone.
The LittleArm App was made with MIT App Inventor to control the Arduino. We will post wiring diagrams, videos, and tutorials on building the app yourself and controlling the arm in the next few weeks.
The LittleArm is one of the most advanced Arduino robot kits on the market, and 1 of the easiest to start with. Using its desktop software this arduino arm can be trained like industrial arms or reprogrammed from scratch. The modifiable breadboard also allows expansion of the Littlearm arduino arm with sensors and other components. Despite its capabilities the LittleArm can be built and programmed by anyone from age 10 and up, making it ideal for STEM education
The Bioloid STEM is a kit that has 21 weeks of educational material around the seven robots you can build form it. The kit is good for teaching STEM from basic to advanced levels in topics ranging from electronics to programming. The kit is ideal if you are just getting started in robotics, adult or student.
Hexapod spider robots are a common in the Arduino maker space. But the Alum Allow Hexapod Spider is a special arduino kit because it's legs are among the most articulate. While it is a relatively complex and expensive kit it would be a fun arduino project.
This Arduino Crawling Quadruped Robot kit has everything you need to make a walking quadruped robot. Each leg has three joints driven by servos. Using the Sunfounder Mobile Robot Remote Controller can easily direct the robot in any direction. The kit uses the SunFounder Nano board as the main controller. A SunFounder Servo Control Board integreate the battery Nano, servo, and nRF2401 wireless module together.
While the this arduino robot kit is cool when it is done, it is fairly complex to build and is not recommended for beginners.
The Official Arduino Robot Kit had to be on this list. While soldering is required to put this robot kit together is is not a difficult robot kit. Once it is built just use a USB cable to connect the robot to the Arduino IDE on a desktop computer and download an example program. The robot comes with all kinds of integrated inputs: two potentiometers, five buttons, a digital compass, five floor sensors, and an SD card reader.
Here are a few of the best STEM toys available for the Christmas Season. Theses toys will help your child learn all about programming and other technologies.
The Sphero SPRK is a nice introduction to programming. The graphical app lets kids create a set of programmed instruction for the SPRK to execute.
Lego Mindstorms NXT
Mindstorms is a great kit for kids wanting to actually build robots. Their software also lets the machines be programmed in pretty great detail.
The most versatile robot arm kit on the market. The LittleArm can easily be trained with its application. Kids can also learn about 3D printing from the kit.
A good kit for more advanced builders. The MakeBlock is a set similar to Mindstorms
Dash and Dot
These interactive robots give great tangible feedback for programming exercises. They are also fun toys for just about any level.
Another robot to learn programming on. The Finch can be programmed with many different languages. Very similar to Dash and Dot this robot is meant to provide quick feedback from programming excises. It is more of a tool than a toy.
In the summer of 2016 Gabe Bentz was shopping for an affordable robot arm to use to experiment with the Arduino. While there were a few arms out there. They were complicated mechanically and had very little functionality (most did not even have a gripper). So Gabe decided to build his own. With a couple of hours in Autodesk Inventor and a few servos Gabe soon created the prototype for the LittleArm, which his 3D printer spit out overnight.
Also in that weekend, Gabe created a small python application for the arm, which allowed him to control it from a computer. He now had a miniature equivalent of most modern industrial robot arms.
Gabe took the arm to several meet-ups and STEM classes that he presented at. The response was overwhelming. Teachers wanted kits for classes and makers wanted kits for the garage.
Fortunately, the resources were available to meet the requests. Gabe ran a small product design company, Slant Concepts, that had the capabilities to produce the arms in low quantities. But the demand continued to grow.
Finally it was decided to completely formalize the LittleArm. So Gabe and the team at Slant put the LittleArm on Kickstarter. The arm was fully funded within a week and after month the project had hit 250% of it goal.
Today the LittleArm project has a dedicated farm of the 3D printers cranking out parts and a growing ecosystem of code and tutorials for teachers. The LittleArm itself is fully trainable. Much like industrial arms all the user has to do is move the arm to a few waypoints, record them, and then play them. The Arduino that controls the arm may also be reprogrammed from scratch. The overall architecture of the arm makes it ideal for a wide range of age and skill levels.
Gabe is excited the business has done so well. But he loves the ramifications of the design much more. “3D printing is highly underutilized as a process. It can create macroscopic structures that are superior to other materials or manufacturing techniques. The LittleArm is really special technologically because we have utilized the capabilities of 3D printing as no other product has. We don’t create molds because they simply would not work for the product.”
Gabe sees the use of 3D printing as a process growing in the future due to its special capabilities and he hopes to lead that development with other products such as the LittleArm. Slant Concepts is also developing better 3D printers specifically for the manufacturing of 3D printed products.
This is a great example of how a garage maker project has grown into a real technology product and company.
Schools at all levels all over the world are using robot arms to teach STEM subjects. Why are robot arms so great for teaching?
There are a few reasons, that we have found by providing the LittleArm to dozens of schools.
Many of the STEM robots out there are modular kits, such as Lego Mindstorms. While these kits are great platforms and offer infinite possibility, they often offer too much possibility.
Teachers are heavily worked. It is difficult to create an entirely new curriculum around basically a pile of parts. While open ended projects are great for STEM they end up creating such unstructured learning that there is no way to know if learning has occurred.
Basically these build from scratch sets leave so much open that they overwork the teacher and do not leave a quantifiable means of determining progress.
Robot arms are only arms. It is easy to tell when it is built and what it can do. Kits like the LittleArm keep students and curriculum focused.
Now even though focus is necessary, a little flexibility is always great. This ensures that the school gets the full value of the investment into the kits. It is tough when a kit is built and then does 1 thing. Kids get bored and teachers get bored.
Robot arms offer the flexibility needed to keep it interesting. Unlike just mobile robots, arms can be highly interactive, they can have their grippers changed out, they can be taught to dance. In this sense, an arm offers a great amount of flexibility without losing the foundation of being an arm.
Where am I going to use this in the real world? This is the question that often kills theoretical education of topics. Toys are very theoretical. It is tough to explain how a baking soda volcano has a practical application in the world. Or how a line following robot is vital to becoming an engineer.
But robot arms are used all over the world. Show a kid the LittleArm or a similiar kit and then point to the industrial robot arms in a factory. They are the same thing. There is a very concrete real world comparison and answer to the "application" question.
Kids can even use the LittleArm to create miniature versions of assembly lines. Just like rocket scientists create model rockets, robot engineers need to create small robots identical to what they will make in future.
Teaching STEM can be difficult, especially with the rapidly changing world of science and technology. So here are 5 of the best Youtube channels for STEM that can entertain and inform students as they study the sciences.
Why does water not always freeze when it is supposed to? How can you make any liquid levitate? Good questions to perk a child’s curiosity. Heck, it perked mine. Hank Green hosts the science channel along with others. As of October last year, the channel had over 2 million subscribers. Hank’s light breezy style demystifies science for us.
A new science video every week. Veritasium follows fun science channels like SciShow and makes it easy to understand the wonders around us. Since 2011, it has collected 180 uploads. That should keep you busy if you haven’t caught up. Derek Muller takes you places – from interviews with Nobel Prize laureates to the man on the ground with mistaken science notions.
It has often been ranked among the best educational channels on YouTube. The video below demonstrates that the simplest objects can move in mesmerizing ways.
MinutePhysics and its time-lapsed videos prove the value of visual learning. Quantum physics has always escaped me. But the videos should do Albert Einstein proud. Don’t believe me – try out the three videos on the Higgs-Boson particles. In under three minutes.
Henry Reich proves that you can teach the most complex science topics if you can simplify it enough. The videos are around 2-3 minutes in length, but pit them against a boring class lecture any day. MinuteEarth is a sister channel that talks about natural phenomena.
A video on human extinction wasn’t the best way for me to start reviewing this fantastic channel. But Michael Stevens made the idea a tad “palatable”. It was his quirky personality and facial contortions that kept me engaged. VSauce is about science and technology, and a tinge of philosophy thrown in. All wrapped in humor.
VSauce extends this educational content to VSauce2 hosted by Kevin Lieber. Specific segments like Mindblow bring the latest news in science and technology. Or LÜT which digs up some of the coolest and weirdest things you can buy online.
Math is the foundation of the digital world, and fields inevitably become heavily mathematical as we learn more about them. This makes math invaluable for anyone interested in a STEM education. Many of us tiptoe around it because of some childhood math phobia, but with the right instructions, math can be deeply rewarding. Who wouldn’t like to try out the value of Pi with real pies!