roBOtour: animated city guide made with models, mBot and Makey Makey

school: IC21 Bologna, club Girls Code it Better

dates: november 16, 2021-may 7, 2022

Girls Code it Better” is a national initiative aimed to reduce the gender inequality in STEM studies and careers. The project has been active since 2015 and this year 82 schools are involved.

When students are in the age range from 11 to 13, their future career choice may be supported by an experience that encourages them to approach STEM studies with more self-confidence. This is why the project addresses girls in the early years of secondary school, and engages them in science and technoogy active learning.

Each school has its own “Girls Code it Better” club, and up to 20 girls can participate; they meet together at school once a week, and develop a project based learning activity based on STEM.

The girls club must carry on their project, from idea to product, in a complete project based learning cycle; each participant takes a role in the project management, depending on their interests and skills, in a cooperative environment; at the end they present their work in a national event and in local school events. 

IC 21 girls code it better club

In the first phase they started exploring the school’s lab equipment, guided by a teacher and a professional maker: 

  • how to program a mBot with mBlock
  • how to make circuits with Makey Makey boards programmed by Scratch
  • how to design 3D models with Tinkercad

In the second phase they discussed what to do with these tools, preparing charts to explain their proposals in detail. The ideas must be selected taking into account their feasibility, time and resources needed. 

The club agreed for  a city guide for kids, animated by Scratch, inspired by the “city red bus” tour of Bologna.

ideas for the project

A group of students took the role of programmers and prepared the Scratch scripts that explain history and curiosities about 10 points of interest in the city. 

After programming the single scripts, they have been added into two Scratch projects run by two Makey Makey boards. Each board controls 5 Scratch animations. Their connections are in the following sketches:

links for Scratch projects run by board 1
links for Scratch projects run by board 2

The Scratch projects run by the two makey makey boards are published  in the Scratch website at this link:

https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/667700972 makey makey board 1

https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/667712780 makey makey board 2

The gallery with all Scratch projects of the club is club 2021-2022 – Scratch Studio (mit.edu)

For the mBot guided tour, another group took prepared the models for the city point of interests, with two main “Porticoes” on both sides of the street, that hide the Makey Makey boards inside them. 

The wires connecting the board to the “bus stops” are hidden by carpets simulating the street, and the terminal contacts are aluminum pads. When the mBot is driven onto a couple of conductive pads, its contacts close the circuit making the Scratch animated guide run, according to the path sketch below. 

path sketch for the city tour

Here is a picture of the whole setting and a short video of a trial.

set up of the project
testing phase

The students have been working together since November 2021; they meet at school every tuesday after classes from 2 to 5 p.m. On April 26, their work must be completed and tested. It will be presented at the national project convention on May 7. After this online event, there will be a local exhibition in Bologna called School Maker Day , where students from the whole region show their STEM projects.

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