In this session that is part of the Create project we study waves and waveforms and their relationship to light, sound and movement through a series of practical building tasks.

Key learning outcomes:

  • Waves in light sound and movement, digital systems (input, processor, output), sensors

The first part of the session focuses on discussing waves and understanding some key characteristics of them: waveform, wavelength, frequency.

Practical experiment 1: controlling light

We begin by controlling light with different waveforms. Using the Quirkbot robotics platform we create circuits with three LEDs (light emitting diodes) whose rate of flashing and colour is controlled by different types of waves (sine, square, triangle, ramp up, ramp down, pulse). Different wave shapes produce different patterns in the light. Changing the frequency of the waves changes the rate of change.

Practical experiment 2: light sensors

With the addition of a light sensor (light dependent resistor) we can now control the frequency of the wave with the amount of light.

Practical experiement 3: soundwaves and oscillators

Using this online tool we then learn about how waves translate to sound in the form of oscillators. We learn that different waveforms change the quality (timbre) of the sound and that the frequency changes the pitch of the sound.

Practical experiment 4: controlling movement with waves

We add a servo motor to the Quirkbot in order to allow us to control the movement of a straw attached to the motor. By attaching a pen to the end of this we are able to create a drawing robots. By changing the waveform that drives the movement of the arm we can make it move in different ways. By dragging the robot across a sheet of paper we can see the waveforms in the patterns that are drawn.

Practical experiment 5: robotic thinking hats

To finish off the session we bring together everything we have learned to create a robotic thinking hat that moves in a way similar to the thought processes in our heads when we are concentrating!

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Robert Jack