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Stem Project Ideas

This is a page for STEM project ideas, things we can do as workshops or at events like MayFest, TechFest, IET open doors day and such like.

This is a place for everything from raw ideas to completed projects.

It was created after a mailing list thread, see

See also, the projects page for a general list of projects.

Kind of unrelated, you can become a STEM ambassador, via

Brushbot Wars

Usually led by we have a bunch of parts for this.

Typical arrangements (as per last run)

Make sure the brushbot box is stocked with:

  • Coin cell batteries tucked inside shrink wrap
  • Vibromotors[1] soldered to 3 pins of a 3×2 section of double-row pinheader[2] that are glued to the motor, wrapped in a heat-shrinked[3] package
  • Assorted long-legged LEDs (Flashing if possible)
  • Toothbrushes, stalk cut short (ASDA is a good source)
  • Glue dots and double-sided sticky pads (Poundland is a good source)
  • An assortment of googley eyes, pipe-cleaners, paperclips, feathers, clips etc (Also Poundland)




The idea

The idea behind the workshop is allow attendants to observe first hand the trade-offs when designing robots, the iterative nature of trail-and-error learning, and the usefulness of combining ideas of others, including team opponents. Emphasis is made on how a thoughtful design is key, especially given the fact that the bots effectively move randomly.

How it's ran

  1. Attendants are split into groups which are paired with one another group e.g. 12 attendants split into 4 teams of 3 (ABCD) with teams paired into team-groups (AB, CD) with a judge per team-group.
  2. Team-groups are given coin-toss, the winning team choses between one of two types of brushbot: Capturebot or Escapebot. The team losing the toss is assigned the remainder.
  3. The teams have 10mins to build their assigned bot.
  4. The bots are then placed into an enclosed area (ideally round) and battle commences between team-groups teams (AvB, CvD). This can be in multiple rounds as deemed by the judge.
  5. Successive rounds of redesign and battle take place, points are awarded out of 10 by an impartal judge on role effectiveness and aesthetics.
  6. After both team-groups have declared winners, the teams merge with their team-group counterpart and a coin toss for bot selection is made as before. The designs are tweaked further over a final 10min design period and a final battle takes place. (AB v CD).

Introducing.. the brushbot referee

“Basically using those small sG90 servos and a brush on each side. When not vibrating for forward/backward motion, the servo's are also little arms that can poke stuff.” - Nordin

These are planned to be used as a group-controlled 'referee-bot' for any given battle. The referee-bot's job is to break up locked robots. The build parties can wifi-connect to the bot and press one of 4 buttons:

  1. Kick left stepper forward
  2. Kick left stepper backward
  3. Kick right stepper forward
  4. Kick right stepper forward

So called 'Kicks' are fast stepper motions from an angle perpendicular to the floor to an angle 90Deg in the given direction, and back again. They will also amount to movement via brush-shuffle in an average direction when enough are received by both motors at the same time. This should produce movement that represents group consensus but this needs to be tested.

Robot Cat

Suggested by

So yea a stuffed cat with a robot arm puppeting cat-like movements sat on top of a robot vacuum cleaner. As the robot hits a wall, the impact causes the robot cat to flinch/move in response. The Cat-bot would need to be kept inside an enclosure to stop it wondering off (as cats do).

Imagine this but with a real robot cat, instead of a fake robot cat.


We take IRL's broken robot vac, disable the malfunctioning sensor and brush motor, place a cat-teddy with the maplin robot arm inside it on top of the vac and add 5 non-latching DPST relays to the robot arm controls. The arm would be controlled via ESP to trigger from borrowed inputs from the vac's collision sensors (and maybe via wifiAP/phone to trigger collision responses, cat movements if there is time).

Both of the built robot arms have issues rotating, so the cat movements would be limited to back-straightening and nodding.

Virtual (gamers) Beach

Usually led by

Same setup as before - a projector with a beach scene using beanbags and sand-coloured throws. Nordin has a fire-effect version of MakeItGlow we can use for a mock-campfire. We can switch inputs to use RetroPi (see below) with Wiimotes or the Wii emulator for retro gaming also.


Suggested by

The space 3D printer can make pretty good looking coins with cut-out shapes inside, and print them pretty quickly if thin. Kids can use OpenSCAD (with help) to design a cut-out for a coin i.e. Initials, symbols etc.

Nerf target

This was made by

“the nerf targets were a great fit for us - they combined some great technology and science with a really fun activity.” - Thomas at ASC.

Air Quality Monitor

Perhaps a bit more advanced, but just adding here for completeness. See projects_air_quality_monitor.


It's not a great STEM project, as far as learning goes, but it can be good for drawing attention to a stand as it's kinda fun. See and has the (minimal amount of) hardware needed. See projects_retro_pi.


Just other ideas, early stage.

  • Pi cluster
  • Pi musical instrument
projects/stem_project_ideas.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/07 20:48 by