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Brushbot invasion

A simple mechanical device serves as a gateway to science and technology education for youth

By Nancy Arcayna

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:06 a.m. HST, Oct 02, 2010


What do you get when you combine bubble tea straws, rubber bands and a toothbrush head? A brushbot miniature robot!

Learn how to make these inexpensive robots at a demonstration and competition tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the State Capitol Auditorium, part of the Children and Youth Day activities this weekend.

"Brushbots are part of an outreach program for microrobots, one of the six recognized scholastic programs in Hawaii," said Art Kimura, education specialist of the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium at the University of Hawaii.

Made from a toothbrush head and a miniature vibrating motor, competitors will compete in speed races and a sumo tournament. The event is one of many at Children and Youth Day, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow at the Frank F. Fasi Civic Center grounds, Kalanimoku Building grounds, Hawaii State Library grounds, Hawaii State Art Museum, Washington Place, Iolani Palace, Punchbowl Street, Department of Health Parking Lot and Judiciary History Center.

Kimura is grateful for the opportunity to share robotics with the community. "Over the past year we have modified the process to make it more user-friendly and less expensive," he said. "We have found that despite the fact that there are over 400 robotics teams in Hawaii, we are still reaching a relatively small number of students and teachers."

Robotics programs engage students by making science and math relevant, he added. "More importantly, through robotics, students develop life skills including teamwork, problem solving, effective communication and time management."

Since the brushbots were developed by the Waiakea High School robotics club, they have been introduced to dozens of schools, and training was provided for more than 200 teachers statewide. "Three high schools -- Waiakea, Kalani and Radford -- have formed a small business to sell the brushbots kits and motors," he added.

"For the first time, a simple mechanical device can be used by hundreds of students in different schools," he explained. "It does not seem to matter if you are an elementary student or a high school student."

The excitement that the children express make it all worthwhile for Kimura and robotics instructors. "Teacher comments such as 'students don't want to go home,' 'I have to turn off the lights and kick them out of the room,' 'the robotics class is the best class I have, even better than PE' and 'I want to become an electrical engineer' all serve to remind us of the effect robotics may have on students." For more Children and Youth Day events, see full story.

 

Magic Island is site of PetWalk benefit

Get along, little doggie -- or kitty, or birdie, or whatever your pet may be.

That's the tune to keep in mind as the Hawaiian Humane Society holds its 20th annual PetWalk Sunday at Magic Island. "This is the only time that animals are allowed at Ala Moana Beach Park," said Starr Dods, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society. "People dress up their pets and parade them around. We have dogs, cats, birds, bunnies, you name it."

The society is hoping to raise $150,000 for its programs, which include advocacy and education programs, spay and neuter programs, pet adoption and pet food assistance. The society's need is particularly acute this year because a pet-food distributor that had been supplying the organization has had to stop its donations, Dods said. The organization is also hoping to expand its kennels and renovate its facilities, she said. All donations are used locally.

Registration for the walk is at 7 a.m., and the walk begins at 8 a.m.

 

Windward festival is fun for keiki

The Windward Ho'olaule'a, held from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, features a glass-blowing demonstration, craft and food booths, live entertainment, children's activities, a ceramic sale and raku firing, and a white elephant sale. Among the featured performers are Sean Naauao, Olomana, Teresa Bright and Holunape. The event will also highlight businesses and organizations that promote sustainability and Earth-friendly living.

Proceeds from the Windward Ho'olaule'a fund scholarships for Windward Community College students. Visit windward.hawaii.edu/hoolaulea or call 235-7466 for more information.

 

Filipino festival has food, music, crafts

The Children's Discovery Center's ANAK Festival showcases Filipino food, arts and crafts, dance, games and storytelling from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow. The cultural keiki festival is one in a series of events designed to highlight the center's current exhibit, "Torn from Home: My Life as a Refugee," which is on display through Oct. 16.

Banda Kawayan, a bamboo band organized by the Filipino Community Center, kicks off the festivities with renditions of traditional Filipino folk songs. Other performances include gong music by the Mahalohalo Kolintang Ensemble and dances by Tekniqling Crew, a group of University of Hawaii students who mix hip-hop and traditional folk movements.

Food demonstrations featuring banana lumpia and palitaw are included in the "Taste of the Philippines." Filipino-style bentos will also be available for sale.

Festivities are free with museum admission, which is $10, $8 kamaaina, $6 for seniors over 62 and free for children under 1. Call 524-5437 for more information.






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