LIVINGSTON, NJ - Last week, Livingston Robotics Club (LRC) organized an excursion to Boston area as a follow up to the LRC Jr.FLL Expo in Livingston, which took place back in May, as reported by TAP into Livingston.

The FIRST LEGO League team of LRC called the “Spongebots” led the excursion traveling with participants from The Electrons and Robotic Ninjas, Jr. FIRST LEGO League teams of LRC, and joined by Smartbots and Ultimate Tsunami, participating teams in the LRC Jr.FLL Expo. 

Participants from 6 to 9 years old in the Junior LEGO League  worked on the “Disaster Blaster” challenge. This included science projects related to natural disasters and building LEGO models with mechanical or robotic parts to demonstrate their findings. The kids were also able to get hands-on experience in a professional environment and got to experience what happens before, during and after a natural disaster strike in order to help them connect their science projects to real-life examples.

The June 24 trip started in Bedford, Massachusetts at the headquarters of iRobot. The guide brought children to the “Cool Stuff” room where he gave a presentation on the company’s history and the revolution of their robots including the designs and engineering behind each of their past products including the robots that can be deployed in disaster situations.

Participants learned about the PackBot, which is the same model that was used to enter the Fukushima nuclear power plant after the secondary industrial disaster as a direct result of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Children also had a chance to operate the FirstLook robot, which can be used by authorities in a rescue mission after a natural disaster.

In addition to seeing robots that are programed to work during natural disasters, the group also discussed the design elements of the company’s best known product, Roomba, the vacuum cleaning robot.

“I think the iRobot tour was awesome,” said Noah Savoie, one of the participants, “I want a Roomba!” 

The group then continued on to Weston, Massachusetts to visit the headquarters of New England Seismic Network to learn more about earthquakes. Children were given a tour of the vaults that contain the seismometers that measure the ground movement and the details of how they work.

They also listened to the audio interpretation of the actual vibrations generated during the 2011 earthquake and the aftershocks in Japan. Finally, the children observed different types of seismographs that record the ground motion at that station in real-time.