Starting in the Fall of 2021, the BYU Robotics and Dynamics lab started working on a soft robotics outreach curriculum originally developed by the Fabratory at Yale. The activity the curriculum is centered around involves making a pneumatically driven soft-robot gripper out of silicone. The basic construction involves assembling a 3d printed mold to define the shape designed by the student(s), filling the mold with silicone to create the body of the gripper, and attaching the silicone gripper to a piece of fabric to create closed air-channels. The project itself was shown to have a high attention retention rate with students, as seen from data collected from surveys taken by students who participated, but the grippers that they created did not have a high success rate in terms of longevity or functionality. We explored many design iterations to increase the rate of successful outcomes with the outreach activity. Variables that were changed included the design of the mold, the type of silicone used, and the way the instructions are presented. We were able to simplify and shorten many of the steps in the manufacturing process that students would need to go through. We also reduced the prep work needed beforehand. Overall, these changes will make the activity easier for K-12 teachers to conduct in their classrooms, as well as give young students a more positive interaction and association with engineering and robotics.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Format: In Person
SESSION C (1:45-3:15PM)
Area of Research: Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Marc Killpack
Location: Union Building, DEN (2:05pm)