Grade Four Robotics

Picture of children working in gravel pit.

In researching about carpet factories, we discovered that children are forced to do many other terrible jobs. We were really shocked that children often have to work in gravel factories, breaking large rocks into smaller ones with a hammer. Over one million children around the world work in rock quarries or mines. They spend hours pounding rocks into gravel using heavy, oversized tools made for adults. These children are not given any gloves, eye protection or shoes. They are forced to carry out this work for long hours, breaking and lifting rocks, in the burning sun with little or no food or water.

Because the money they earn is crucial to ensuring that they and their families survive, many are unable to attend school at all. These children are breakings rocks for survival. We thought there must be another way to break rocks to make gravel. That is when we came up with the design to create robots that break rocks with hammers and robots that carry the gravel back to the factory. We could create a prototype that organizations like UNICEF could use to replace robots with children. If we could offer one robot to do the job of three children, maybe the master would let three children go.

Students with prototype robots.We originally wanted the Hammer Robot to follow a black line using light sensors to the area where it needed to break rocks. Once it broke the rocks with the hammer it would communicate an electronic message to the shovel robot saying “The rocks are ready for pick-up!” The shovel robot would follow a black line using a light sensor until it reached the pick-up spot. The shovel robot would then pick up the gravel and take it back to the factory.

During the course of our robotics inquiry we made some changes to our original task.

Our new goal was to have our robots follow a black line using a light sensor and wait at it’s designated area. After a few seconds the robot will return to it’s initial waiting place. This was a challenging task that we have never performed before and we are very proud of what we have accomplished.



Copyright © 2006 J. Grimm, N. Klinger and L. Ranta

Copyright for students' work remains with the authors.