The Green Brain team involved students and the public in STEM research through outreach and public engagement events.
Overview and themes
Outreach activities created and hosted by the Green Brain team covered several educational objectives. Activities were developed to give students a hands-on opportunity to try several STEM disciplines.
In the various activities, students
- created algorithms, and subsequent computer programs, to make a robot navigate
- solved problems to figure out how parts of the brain fit together and function
- learned about how and why researchers are working on creating artificial life
- got a feel for life in Robotics, Computer Science, and Neuroscience
- had an opportunity to talk to scientists, engineers, and researchers about their careers, university, or day-to-day lives in these subjects
Exhibitions gave the Green Brain team the opportunity to talk to hundreds of students while giving them each a taste of science and robotics.
The Green Brain team hosted the “Bee-Hind a Bee Mind” exhibit at the Sheffield Science Exhibition, where students were able to
- use an Oculus Rift to ‘be’ a bee and find flowers to pollinate in a virtual reality game, while learning about how honeybees use their vision to identify flowers and navigate
- merge simple robots, arduinos, and chemosensors to sniff out flowers, to learn about the basics of robotics and the use of a robotic ‘smelling’ device to test for odours (including pollutants in the air)
- see videos and live demonstrations of GB robots, brain models, and experiments
The Green Brain team developed and hosted a number of activities and workshops at the University of Sheffield, primarily through the Excellence Hub team.
Activities focused around promoting STEM careers for young people and on creating STEM activities that connect classroom material with real-life examples and applications.
Student activities included
- writing algorithm for a small robot to follow a pattern autonomously
- programming tutorials to create and use algorithms to write computer code arduino robots use to navigate
- learning how the brain works by building an ‘artificial brain’
The Green Brain team delivered talks to the public about the wide range of topics this multi-disciplinary project brings together.
They spoke to beekeepers, students, academics, and the local community, and enjoyed working with diverse groups.
Dr. Nowotny’s outreach website has several online demos where students learned about
- trail following behaviour of ants and how it helps them to navigate the environment
- the swarming behaviour of animals.
- bees through a virtual reality Bee Pilot game where kids act as a bee to collect nectar from simulated flowers
- simple robots similar to Braitenberg vehicles (an agent that is able to autonomously act upon receiving input from its sensors).