Uploaded by Jaques Andre

Liquid Robot

Liquid Handling Robots!
For Middle or High School BioTech
The Power of STEAM Across Grades and Disciplines
Mark L. Miller, Ph.D. (Learningtech.org)
Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, Ph.D. (Stanford)
California STEAM Symposium
October 29, 2018
The LHR Team
Principal Investigators
• Paulo Blikstein, Ph.D. (Stanford/Columbia)
• Mark L. Miller, Ph.D. (Learningtech.org)
• Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, Ph.D. (Stanford)
Other Key Contributors
• Len Erickson, Ph.D. (Learningtech.org)
• Tamar Fuhrmann, Ph.D. (Stanford)
• Ethan Li (Stanford)
• Chris Miller (Learningtech.org)
• Mike Wirth, Ph.D. (Learningtech.org)
The support of the National Science Foundation is gratefully acknowledged.
What It Is
• A prototype, inexpensive robot that pipettes liquids,
capable of being programmed by students using a
block-based coding environment
• Cuvettes and Pipettes
• 96 Well Plate
• Motors and Sensors
• Arduino (Mega)
• Software Layers
• Laser Cut Plastic
• Downloadable Designs
void loop() {
LHR_updateMessaging(transport, messager);
LHR_updateBasics(core, board);
LHR_updateAxes(pipettorAxis, zAxis, yAxis, xAxis);
Why Do It?
• Enable hands-on, NGSS-aligned experiments with
liquids in a project-based, inquiry-driven, costeffective manner
• Empower students to explore the power of coding
and robotics, in authentic context beyond simple
game development or autonomous vehicles
• Let students directly experience how
technological advances can
accelerate scientific research
• College/Career Readiness – BioTech
workers do not do much manual
pipetting anymore
Middle School Examples
Middle School
• Integrate coding, computational thinking with
authentic science topics
Measurement and Precision
Repetition with Variations
Relationship Between Density and Layering of Liquids
Color Theory
• See relationships between art and engineering
High School Examples
High School
• Study Impact of Increased Ocean Salinity on Krill or
other organisms, relationship to other life forms such
as whales (Gr9)
• Learn Advanced Laboratory Procedures (Gr10+)
– Serial Dilutions
– Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay [ELISA]
• Horseradish Peroxidase (Grade 10)
• Maker Space / Fab Lab Projects
– Improved Designs (such as snap together parts)
– Variations (such as undersea data collector)
Project Evolution
Early Versions Used Lego Mindstorms
• 3-axis version provided cuvettes only
• Constructed with 1 Lego set plus specialized parts
• 4-axis version added 96 well plate
• Required >1 Lego set
Project Evolution
Other Approaches We Explored
• Lego Mindstorms
– Brick Pi instead of Lego Brick
• Laser Cut Plastic
– Arduino Microprocessor
– BBC micro:bit User Control
– MakeCode for Student
Programming Environment
• Each had pros and cons
• What we needed was a “bigger”
Project Evolution
Latest Versions
• Laser cut plastic
• Arduino Mega handles both back end and user interface
• 1 motor per axis (3-axis and 4-axis versions in use)
• Low level code combines C, Javascript, and Python
• Student code is written in Snap! (similar to Scratch)
• 3-axis supports 8 cuvettes and a 96 well plate, with
prompts to manually move tray on non-automated X axis
• 4-axis supports 16 cuvettes and a 96 well plate, with full
4-Axis Serial Dilution Demo
• Snap! front end not yet available
on 4-axis model
• Launches via Python temporarily
$python3.6 -m lhrhost.tests.robot.serial_dilution ascii
3-Axis Hands On!
• Code with Snap! Blocks
• Move Tray Front to Back (X
axis) as Prompted
• Try it out (10 mins)!
Questions for User Studies
• At which grade levels would the technology be most
beneficial? Middle School versus High School?
• Is it more effective to include this type of technology in
an authentic, integrated science context, or to offer
unrelated exposure to coding and robotics?
• Do gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status impact the
appeal or effectiveness of this technology?
• How close is it to being sufficiently robust and reliable
for classroom use?
• Will teachers want to try it?
User Studies – Middle Grades
Pilot Studies to Date
• McKinley Institute of Technology (RWC)
– Students built Lego pipetter mechanism
– Fascinated by Layering and Density
• Ralston Middle School (Belmont)
– Similar to McKinley
• Christa McAuliffe School (Saratoga)
– Girls coded well plate designs in Snap!
– All girls chose LHR
– All boys chose Lego vehicles
– Small sample size
User Studies – High Schools
Pilot Studies to Date
• Design Tech High School (Redwood Shores)
– Two Fab Lab Intersessions weeks (15 hrs)
– First time, some created non-LHR robots
– Second time, most worked on LHR
• Some built variations (micro:bit)
• Some designed improvements
• Carlmont High School BioTech Institute
– We began study with micro:bit version
– We taught students MakeCode
– Aborted due to equipment unreliability
– Will reprise in Feb 2019 with latest
3 Minute Discussion at Table
• What grade levels do you teach?
• What grade levels do you see this as
most useful for?
• Could this technology be useful with
your students?
• Can you think of a sample lesson/topic
where it would be especially helpful?
• Are you OK with spending a bit of
science time to introduce coding?
• What sorts of professional development
would you want before trying it?
For the Future
Controlled user studies
Adapt Snap! front end for 4-axes
Support Chromebook usage
Improve ruggedness and robustness
(better cable harnesses, easier calibration)
Incorporate color sensors
Explore CTE potential for community colleges to
fabricate units for local high schools
Improve the documentation for the CAD materials and
software build
Prepare and Deliver Professional Development
How You Can Help
• Sign up to stay informed of our progress
• Participate in a user study at your school
• Help us identify incremental funding opportunities
• https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/
• https://github.com/ethanjli/liquid-handling-robotics
• http://snap4arduino.rocks/
• https://cad.onshape.com/documents/
• https://learningtech.org/casteam2018
• mailto:mlmiller@learningtech.org