Youths in the Hazelton area are learning to build small-scale robots at the Hazelton library. Josh Huber

Robots invade Hazelton library

The Hazelton Public Library is hosting a Robot Club where participants build simple machines.

The Hazelton public library has been hosting a robot club which will be wrapping up in the coming weeks.

Participants have each fashioned a robot from salvaged material with instruction from Keagan Schopfer, who came up with the idea of a robot club.

Apparently the first rule of robot club is not the same as the first rule of fight club.

“This club was for mid-to-late teens,” Schopfer said.

“It’s main objective is to get them interested in computers, electronics and robotics in a more engaged way.

“This is a few steps beyond going on Facebook and smart phones.”

Schopfer has himself been interested in robotics since he was a teen and he is using his first-hand experience to bring a particular type of robot to the Hazeltons.

“It’s known as the simple robot revolution,” Schopfer said.

“The philosophy calls for building small-circuit machines that interact directly with their environment.”

The two-wheeled robots, which run on nine volt batteries, being built by club members are all fashioned mostly out of salvaged materials.

“The kids were able to get most of their parts from old computers or cassette players,” Schopfer said.

One member’s robot has a body made from an old computer mouse.

The robots have ‘eyes’, which are photo-sensors that can locate the brightest spot in a room or follow a flashlight beam on the floor.

“Instead of having a complex computer calculate the amount of light in a room, which will then determine how fast to spin the motor, we attach the sensors directly to the motor,” Schopfer said.

“The input, which in this case is light, directly affects the output.”

The result is a single purpose machine with several applications, such as, a potted plant placed on a light sensor robot would get the maximum amount of direct sun available in a room.

There are also several potential solar power applications for a robot that is drawn to the maximum available light.

“Especially within the simple robot philosophy, these robots are perfectly adaptable to solar power,” Schopfer said.

“That kid of adaptation could be really useful.

The club was made possible from an Industry Canada grant through the Community Access Program, which also provides funding for the library’s public computers.

“I was hired by the library to do a few educational programs based in information and technology,” Schopfer said.

“We wanted to try and reach as many age groups as possible with the programs.”

One of the programs was the Camera Club for elementary aged students to learn about photography.

Schopfer also held one-on-one photography tutorials for adults.

The club meets every Wednesday at the library until mid-April.

For information on other clubs or library events call 250-842-5691 or visit the library website at www.hazelton.bclibrary.ca.

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