Trashbots Invade Brisbane!


On yet another beautiful day in Brisbane teachers from across the region walked in to the  meeting room with boxes full of parts; broken toys, dissected printers and a collection of bits their IT guy gave them. They were there to take part in our latest workshop – Trashbots – an introduction to scavenging parts and transforming everyday junk into crawling, spinning, bumping and vibrating robots.

After a quick introductory spiel about e-waste I explained the two basic concepts involved in the workshop and said “Ready, steady, build!”. I was greeted by a silence that left me enough time to contemplate whether this new workshop was a stroke of awesome freeform fun or, as could quite possibly be the case, complete and utter professional suicide in front of a room full of educators. Ten seconds passed…


Then twenty…

“Best place to start would probably be to grab a motor!” I suggested. Then the silence broke as a packed room burst into motion with people jumping up to arm themselves with motors, batteries, clothes pegs and a dozen other random bits. Within minutes the sounds of buzzing motors and giggles (yes! Giggles!) of excitement filled the room as the participants repurposed their junk and started crafting a bizarre host of robots.

I moved between the tables asking questions, suggesting courses of action and encouraging the freeform creation and improvement of the robot hoard. Soon robots were charging around the tables, self destructing and generally causing havoc, much to the mirth of the participants.

Soon, our 90 minute session drew to an end and nearly everyone in the room had made a robot of some form or other. We had covered basic electronics, scavenging tactics, OH&S in disassembly and importantly a lot of making and design thinking in the form of rapid low-fi, sketch prototyping. With the workshop a hit and the participants heading out to the next session we took a few photos and packed up ready for our next Trashbots workshop for ISQ on May 16th in Logan, ready to see what the next batch of teachers would create.