Saturday, April 11, 2015

Makerspace Club: Visiting the Robot Garage



Our Makerspace Club had our last meeting for the winter session last week. After such a great club, I wanted to make sure we went out with a bang!

I had heard about a great business in our town called The Robot Garage. The word robot was enough to draw me in of course, but one look at the activities offered on their website, and I was sold. Robots, Legos, plenty of space to explore-what more could we ask for? I contacted the store and was thrilled to hear back from them that they would be happy to host our club for a session.
The Robot Garage logo
from http://therobotgarage.com/

The owner of The Robot Garage, Sarah, came to explain to our group all about how and why she began the store. She then took the time to ask every single student what their favorite activity in the Makerspace Club has been. I loved hearing these answers because they were varied and showed that each student was able to find their niche within the club. The favorite club activities that were said the most were the Makey Makey (no surprise there!), taking apart computers, and creating videos using stop motion animation or green screen. 

As opposed to having the kids do a structured activity, which The Robot Garage does offer, Sarah encouraged them to just take the time to explore-something this group does very well!

In the drop-in room there were tables set up with different activities. The group took turns moving from table to table and exploring.

There were five tables and plenty of pieces for everyone to get their hands on something. The tables were:

  • Lego Table
  • LaQ Table
  • Robot Table
  • Plus Plus Table
  • Lego Duplo Table (our group was too old for these, but my son would love this table!)
A LaQ creation made by a
VHMS student 
There was no doubt that battling robots was the most popular choice. In fact, Sarah kept bringing more robots to the table so more kids could join in the fun. They did great with taking turns so that everyone had a chance to try to flip robots. Our school has an awesome Robotics Team and some of the members of the team are also in this club, so they had great insight to share with the group about robotics too.


The LaQ, Lego, and the Plus Plus Table were all so much fun for the kids too. They created all sorts of colorful items that they shared with each other. Some kids worked together to build their creations and others worked independently, but by the end of our time at The Robot Garage, they all had created something new. 

LaQ pieces from http://www.laq.co.jp/

It was neat to see items we had never heard of before. The kids all had spent plenty of time building with Legos, but seeing what they could make with LaQ and Plus Plus was really neat! The LaQ blocks advertise that there are an "infinite possibility of creation from just 7 types of block parts", while Plus Plus, a Danish company, advertises that there are "endless possibilities" for design with just one plus shape that comes in many colors. The kids put these claims of endless design possibilities to the test and built some pretty neat things during our one hour visit!

The LaQ allowed them to build intricate designs, while the Plus Plus were easy to manipulate, allowing for everything from stacking towers to writing out words. Both of these items were developed in other countries, so it was also great to get a different view of the different types of things that we could build with.

Here are a few pictures of our trip to The Robot Garage so you can see all of the fun that we had!





Sarah and Laurie also shared with our kids about all of the awesome robotics camps they offer and that kids can attend drop-in sessions where they can explore some more! I thought that was great information for our Makerspace Club students, as it gives them another avenue for making. It was an awesome experience and I'm looking forward to working with The Robot Garage again soon!




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