Cereal Box Hackathon

Did you know you could turn a cereal box into a machine? Create an Arduino-based machine using cereal boxes, supplies and tools found in the TechHive Studio. This is the design prompt we gave to teens to better understand what kinds of projects, expertise, skills and capabilities teens would bring to a creative design problem. High school-aged students were self-selected into teams, then given two days to create a solution that would engage a visitor to a science center.

Team 1: Cardboard Game
“We created a two person game in which one “director” uses a cardboard panel with buttons (Forward, Left, Right) to control two handheld vibration motors held by a “robot” player, directing the robot to a cardboard button crate target.

On the directing end, there is a control panel with three buttons. The left button activates a pulse vibration of the left motor. This tells the “robot” to turn 90º to the left. The same goes for the right. The front button activates pulses in both motors, indicating that the user should go forward one step.
Vibrating motors are glued to the inside of the two remote boxes. The pulses are 200 ms long, and are separated by a 200 ms pause 2. There was also a sensor box (not pictured here) that when kicked, made a loud buzzing noise.”

Team 2: Team Organic’s Cosmic Cocos Autonomous Car, Lightbox Edition

“Our autonomous car had a distance sensor at the front as the input, which translated to the motors and LED for output. When the distance is too small, the car will turn away from the obstacle. Science! I await patiently for the incoming call from Google[x]. “

Team 3: Sneezing Snape Mask

My idea: Make a cardboard face “emote” through creative use of Arduino interactions. A paper cutout of the “base” mask design was used to visualize the accommodation of the various electronic components in the final project. Originally, it was planned to include movable lips on the final design, however the prototype and subsequent testing argued against that design choice. The final design was altered to only include movable eyebrows and blinking “closing” eyes. With a much larger version, it is possible to include more intricate detail, as with a mouth.”

“The program was split into 3 versions to allow for easier mistake correction.The first program was a relatively simple correlation between Light, Sensor, and Motor. A certain level of light turned on both eye LEDs and turned. 

The second program takes into account the ambient light, and compares the current light level with the light level present at startup. This allows the experiment to work in almost any lighting conditions (excepting flickering ambient light). The previous program used a preset value that would have rendered the project unviable in a different environment. The program also included an optional feature that shut off both eye LEDs (close eyes) when the light level greatly exceeded that of ambient light. The value was found by trial and error, but does take ambient lighting into account. The third program introduced a random function with the ability to randomly blink and wink (approximately every 12 seconds). While seemingly useless additions, these allow for the mask to have more personal expression, and encourages questions as to why it blinked, as well as a possible larger amount of interaction with the user. 
I learned that as with any project, the key is not in the code and construction, but the wiring as well. The wiring must be connected well with the breadboard to get the original measure of ambient light required at startup. With faulty wiring, the project simply did not allow for the proper functioning of the project.”