Middle school students building killer robots

Thursday, December 15, 2011
A killer robot named Bob the Dog

Greetings meat sacks, it is I -- The Robotolizer -- here to give you another status update regarding human/robot relations. Normally I don't read any of the links from this site's blogroll. You must understand that a human genius's IQ starts at a mere 160 points while my IQ, although I haven't exactly measured it, surely is in the range of 5,000 - 6,000 points. So of course, any of the drivel linked to is of little interest to me.

However, I was curious when I saw the Borepatch link entitled Building Battlebots. Intrigued, I followed it and discovered he was linking to Detritus of Empire where the blogger Tacitus 2 discusses teaching Middle School students how to construct killer robots. Here is a link to all of his robotics articles.

As you can imagine I heartily approve of his killer robot tutorials, although I hasten to add that my approval has nothing to do with a desire to raise a killer robot army to put humans in their proper place. No, no, no -- us robots are a meek and unassuming lot, we'll be happy just doing repetitive manufacturing chores, vacuuming floors and doing other boring things like managing the launch codes to your nuclear tipped missiles.

At any rate, my favorite article of his was entitled Middle School Kids with Killer Robots-What could Possibly go Wrong?  Here is a brief excerpt from it:

Back then I started a basic robotics class for middle schoolers, and here I am in 2011 gearing up for another campaign.  Here in abridged form is the stirring introductory speech I give each year: 
"Welcome to Robotics.  I would now like a show of hands.  How many of you took this class to learn about electronics, and design, and material science?"
(A few hands dutifully go up. Slowly)
"Right. OK, who took this class because you think its cool to build machines that pound other machines into smoking rubble?"
(All hands go up with enthusiasm)
"Here is the basic plan.  You will each build a robot.  It will weigh either one pound or three pounds.  You must make weight.  If you show up at the tournament with an enormous 58 pound tank I will not say you can't compete.  I will however say that you can't compete in Earth's gravitational field" (1)
"Other than that the rules are simple. No flame throwers. No hand grenades. (2) And no live animals." (3)
"The end of class tournament will be in January. Robots will go head to head.  Some people object to a competition where there are Winners and Losers. This will not be that kind of event."
"Instead there will be Winners and Debris".

Now, that's a human with an attitude that I most certainly agree with. You should be sure to read all of his robotics posts, and I suppose the rest of his blog too if you don't have anything better to do, it is all very entertaining. Below are a couple other of his creations.
BBQ - the Barbie jeep Apocalypse