If you were asked to describe a robot 10 years ago, you might have come up with something along the lines of a large silver box covered in lights and dials, with 2 arms, 2 legs and a human-like head – the reality of modern robots is of course quite different! Robotics and electronics in our daily lives are becoming more prevalent by the day, not just in labs and factories, but at home and in the office as well.
Tech Train 2013
After a slightly stressful journey (our train was delayed, the children were very well behaved!) we made it back from Edinburgh on Friday at the end of Tech Train 2013. We had a really fun, interesting (and hopefully educational) week of workshops, shows and sightseeing.
Monday was spent at the Science Festival itself in the City Arts Centre, and the kids went to workshops on robot building, CSI and forensics, Lego Mindstorms programming and soldering their own electronic gadgets at Madlab. A few decided to make Morse code telegraph style devices with rather loud buzzers, which drove us all mad for the rest of the week.
We spent Wednesday at the amazing National Museum of Scotland, looking round the incredible recently refurbished exhibits and watching a chemistry show full of exciting demonstrations and explosions. In the afternoon we saw a very hi-tech presentation from the robotics department of Edinburgh University on intelligent robots. They had brought along some of their humanoid robots they travel with all over the world taking part in 5 a side robot football! Some of us got the chance to challenge a robot at ‘rock, paper scissors’ and the robot won almost every time. For the finale Ben and Alex got to control a robot with hand gestures using an Xbox Kinect camera, and race another robot moving on its own to kick a football! After supper we went out for a movie night at the cinema – a late night for everyone.
The final day was spent sightseeing with a tour round Edinburgh Castle and the Scottish Crown Jewels, followed by a packed lunch and a visit to the Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions, a museum dedicated to visual tricks and optical illusions such as holograms and mirror mazes. There was also an observation deck at the top with amazing views of the city and the Royal Mile. Then we had a brisk walk to a sightseeing ‘Horrible Histories’ bus tour of Edinburgh, which everyone enjoyed as there was no walking involved! Our final activity was a visit to Pizza Hut for supper followed by a ‘Ghosts and Ghouls’ tour of the underground Edinburgh streets – some of us decided we didn’t want to go on the tour as our feet were very tired (definitely not because we were scared of ghosts and the dark). With that our 3 youngest campers, Ben, Jordan and Luke along with Alex set off to go underground. A few of us might have been a little scared at times but everyone was sad when it was over!
After another late night and a delayed train or two we finally made it back to King’s Cross on Friday afternoon where the children met up with their parents – a great trip enjoyed by all. Hopefully we will see some of you again in the Summer!
To see all the photos from the trip please visit our Facebook album.