Introducing Students to Materials Science
through Soft Robotics Workshops

K-12 students engaging in Soft Robotics Workshops

Top left: 5th grade students from Boston Public Schools try out a pneumatic gripper from the Walsh group. Top right: Postdoc Sam Root demonstrates robots created in the Whitesides group. Bottom left: REU students participate in a K12 robot hackathon. Bottom right: Navajo Tech students Kyra Capitan and Apryl Begay demonstrate straw grippers while volunteering during the Cambridge 8th Grade Showcase.

The MRSEC at Harvard has implemented several workshops that use soft robotic components designed by MRSEC researchers to teach concepts in materials science and engineering design to K-12 students from elementary to high school. These highly flexible workshops introduce students to engineering design using simple and inexpensive materials such as straws, paper cups, and overhead transparencies. Students are also able to test pneumatic robotic actuators and grippers that have fabricated in the lab. Through this continuum of low-tech student-designed robots to more high-tech pneumatic actuators, the MRSEC has been able to host workshops for over 500 students in various settings.

George Whitesides (Chem), Conor Walsh (BioEng/MechEng), and David A. Weitz (Physics and Applied Physics)
2019-2020 Harvard MRSEC (DMR-1420570)