Our first original curriculum was the Gizmo Parade. You can see from the videos above and below how we adapted the program to high schoolers during a summer Bowdoin College Upward Bound session, and to middle schoolers during February school break at Skidompha Library. During the program, students learned how self-driving cars uses sensor feedback to control steering and braking.
A special treat for our Gizmo Parade students was being chosen by MIT's Professor Berthold Horn to assemble robots for use in his research into traffic flow at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab. Using Gizmo Garden robots and a lot of math, Horn discovered how self-driving cars can make phantom traffic jams dissipate, saving drivers time and fuel. The key is to employ sensors that look not only forward as human drivers do, but simultaneously backward, keeping each car centered between the car in front and the car behind. The results of his research were covered on CBS This Morning and in Science Live.
Teachers interested in leading this project should have a solid foundation in programming Arduino microcontrollers. If that's you, we'd be glad to share our code as well as our PowerPoint for classroom use.