The new year has started well for geekStarter teams. Here are some recent updates they shared with us.
OLS SynBio continues to focus on a plastic that will use a biological construct to improve the sorting of plastics at recovery centers. The team is deep into research on the structure of plastic hydrocarbons, industry standards for dying, marking, sorting and recycling of plastics, and more. It has been challenging to find a way to construct a device that will work – it is possible that the team will still need to pivot our project direction in order to make it achievable in our lab.
Self driving and racing Raspberry Pi cars: We have been modifying and troubleshooting code on our original tank bots, but this proved trickier than expected. We will soon get new cars that have different drives on the raspberry pis, and their GitHub code should work better.
We decided to focus on developing bacteria that will break down fats in fatbergs, which are large chunks of fatty waste clogging our sewers. After our first 100% successful bacterial transformation this past month, we are ready to design our genetic circuit and insert it into E coli. We have not given up on our crop antifreeze project, but are going to pursue it on the side instead.
Aside from lab and research work, our team has started planning some events for this year, such as a parent lab night, and a grade 6 lab day. We are also scoping out some local regional science fair competitions to see if we can set up an information booth to share our project and inform the public on synthetic biology. We are looking forward to a full day workshop with our mentors in February!
Bear Decoy Robot: Work has progressed well. The drive portion of the main platform has been completed and the Remote Control system is being setup. The outstanding piece of the project is a Bear cape and we are considering using synthetic hides.
Football Tackle Dummy: We finished designing the platform for this, using CAD, and have framed the base in metal. We welded the aluminum frame housing the drive system, and next we will install the gearboxes, for the electrical and control systems.
Magnetic Levitation Train project: This project was used as a prototype for learning to work with Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) systems, which are increasingly prevalent across industries. The prototype turned out really well and we are going to continue with it this coming semester.
We currently have 4 groups working in the Ted Harrison Design Thinking Club. One group is researching osteoporosis and looking to see if some of the techniques that are used in creating genetically modified organisms could be useful in slowing down degradation of bones. Another group is researching ways to manipulate the immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. The other two groups are focused on information technology; one is designing a robot that can pickup garbage, and the other is working on an app that would help students who are transitioning from high-school to post-secondary connect with potential landlords or with other students who may sell items such as textbooks and furniture.
Over the last month, Nexus Robotics kicked off two key projects: the geekStarter project and FIRST Robotics competition. Over the Christmas break, the team held 2 workshops where we discussed the geekStarter project and developed requirements for our competition robot which will host the software to be developed under the geekStarter project. We learned about behavioural algorithms, and ordered training materials for behavioral programming, which some of us are currently using in preparation for design activities in late January. After the team identified the prototype robot platform, 6 team members proceeded to assemble the prototype robots with 3 robots now working and 1 robot still being debugged. We plan to start implementing the first 2 behaviours at the end of January.