Cal Day is U.C. Berkeley's annual open house event where perspective students, families, friends, and the general public come to visit and learn about what's happening on campus and enjoy fun activities different university affiliated groups host. We decided to participate in the Cal Day event in order to give back to the community and display some of the work our undergraduates have been doing in the Cyber Physical Cloud Computing (CPCC) group. One of our objectives was to be able to entertain visitors of all ages so that everyone would be engaged in some meaningful way when they visit our station. Another objective we had was to increase people's awareness of new technologies on the market and how accessible they are. To achieve this, we hosted a rubber band activity for the younger kids and we let the parents, and anyone else who is interested, test fly the AR Drone quadcopters – a commercially available platform our undergraduates use for research. We also made a poster that reflect the different activities we had planned and give viewers a bit more detail about our undergraduates' work with the AR Drone with ROS (Robot Operating System) and OpenCV (C++ image processing library).
On the day of the event both the AR Drones and the rubber band helicopter activity were very popular. Parents and children were fascinated with the drones because for many, it was their first time seeing a real flying quadcopter. They were very excited when we told them that they could actually fly them; some of them were surprised by how affordable and accessible these drones have become. The younger kids seemed to really like the rubber band helicopters and were amazed how high they went. The kids were very inquisitive and were eager to try different fuselage form factors to see what effects it has on the performance of the rubber band helicopters.
Overall, the event was pretty successful. Over the span of two hours we always had a small crowd around our booth with people who are eager to try out the AR Drone and learn about what we do. Roughly 30 kids participated in the rubber band helicopter activity. One aspect we could have improved on was to get a better location for our booth because we were not on the main guided route the department planned. On the other hand, not having an overwhelming number of people around our booth meant people had more space to maneuver the AR Drone without fearing that they were going to crash into people.
The following picture shows the hand-made helicopter tutorial during Cal Day 2015. Children cut out helicopters on card boards and attached them with sticks and propellers.
The CalUnmanned Team at Cal Day 2015.
The following video shows the candy drop activity during Cal Day, 2014. An AR drone quadrotor was equipped with a servo-controlled clipper to drop chocolates from air.
The Franklin Elementary school's annual science fair was held on May 10th 2012. The science fair features a variety of science related activities for over a hundred elementary school students and their parents hosted by teachers and invited guests. Some of the activities that were present include Van de Graff generators, completing the light circuit, balloon racing and more which explore a multitude of scientifically relevant concepts such as electricity, air pressure, speed etc. Our participating in this event through hosting the simple rubber band helicopter activity broadened the scope of the event by adding concepts such as lift, drag, stored energy, and flight and promoting outdoor activities to the younger generations who are so attached to indoor activities such as console gaming and internet browsing.
The activity was very popular and attracted many students and parents. Because of the simplicity of the activities, students quickly picked up on the basics of building the helicopter and started to experiment with different variables such as winding number and toss angle to see how the helicopter behaved. We also encouraged the students to explore different form factors for the helicopter to see how that affects the flight characteristics. Though the students are young and sometimes unable to grasp the technicalities of these activities, they were able to develop intuitions for how systems would behave when something is changed through hands on experimentation. Many of the parents express that the rubber band helicopter activity was very engaging. Over all, the demand for the activity was high and we were happy to be a part of our younger generations' learning, enrichment experience.
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