On October 17th, we had the opportunity to show in the “Colegio de Ingenieros de Chile” (Chilean Engineers Institute) our participation in the Moonbots Challenge and the state in it. This Institute is the same institution where we will present our Live Stream during November.
The Institute is normally organizing seminars, workshops and other activities to divulge science and its technological application. In this case, the 17th afternoon was devoted to astronomy and in particular to the one that is developed in Chile and how this observatories impacts in the development on the national engineering. It is important to remember that the largest telescopes in the southern hemisphere and the largest in the world are located in Chile.
We presented the unique stand at the event, showing the Moonbots Challenge and the infinite possibilities of the LEGO Mindstorm system. The public was very enthusiastic and made a lot of questions and comments!
The program of the “Chile: World Capital of Astronomy Seminar” was the following:
- Mrs. Mónica Rubio, President Assessor to astronomic issues: National research politics and support to astronomy.
- Mr. Leonardo Vanzi, Universidad Católica Researcher: Development of optic instrumentation in the Astroengineering Research Center.
- Mr. Jorge Ibsen Alma Observatory: Informatics and engineering’s opportunities.
- Mr. Gustavo Arriagada: Astronomy in the XXI Century – a challenge for Chilean Engineers.
- Mr. Chris Smith: Astronomy in the next decade – from protons to petabytes.
- Mr. Patricio Mena: Instrumentation in Radioastronomy.
- Mrs. María Teresa Ruíz, National Science Award.
- Mr. Massimo Tarenghi ESO Representative in Chile.
We prepared the stand very carefully. We prepared a video with a summary of our participation in the Moonbots Challenge, showing parts of the Phase I video, parts of the video prepared to describe the Landscape and the Missions, and the work we had done until that date. You can see the video in this link. Also we prepared three activities with the LEGO Mindstorm:
- Crane or robotic arm to play “Angry Birds”. The arm takes a bird from a platform and moves with it until it is above the pigs; then the arm unhands the bird to destroy the structures and throw aside the pigs.
- A rover with several programs in it. Here we had some problems, because the light in the place made difficult to the rover to distinguish colors, so we could only show the simplest programs.
- A joystick to remotely control the arm or the rover.
As the people came to the Seminar, they saw our stand and we could interact with them. Also during the break. In total there were about 80 people assisting to the seminar. Almost all of them were engineers and the rest were astronomers. All they were interested in the Moonbots Challenge and in our presentation. Some of them knew about the Challenge and / or the LEGO Mindstorm. Even, in the ALMA radio observatory they use the LEGO Mindstorm to simulate the antennas and show how the whole complex works!
The public was surprised by the fact that two of the thirty teams in the Phase II are Chilean! But they were more interested in the objective of the Challenge and how the children can learn. You can see a set of photos of the event in this link.
We could talk with most of the visitors and show our work. The visitors highlighted the great level of technical and astronomic knowledge of the MilkyBots team and how the children are prepared themselves to this Challenge. The idea of a greenhouse on the Moon to research about the life outside the Earth and to prepare a future Lunar Base was very interesting to the visitors. They also were delighted with the built models and how the imagination is the limit in this Lego Mindstorm system. They loved playing “real” Angry Bird in the remote control and seeing how the rover moves around following a line.
Mrs. Monica Rubio, the first speaker, was so interested that offered a specific seminar about Astronomy in the Wenlock School, where the team members actually study.
There were some University teachers also. They comment that this learning way (through a project development) is very interesting, as the student is motivated and he / she researches more than the basic level. In this way, the Chilean Universities are pressing their student to participate in national or international challenges in their respective areas of interest.
Finally the visitors praised the team members’ capacity to work together and to talk with the experts of what they know and do.
As Team Capitan and father of three of the four integrants, I am proud of them and what they have done.