Robotics inspired by the look and movements of jellyfish

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 9:18 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2022 at 9:41 AM EDT
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NORWICH, Vt. (WCAX) - Within the time of a 45-minute program, kids became bioengineers at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich and built their own moving, floating robots. Their creations are called “jellybots” because they’re inspired by the look and movements of jellyfish.

“It’s a program we’re developing with the curiosity engineering company, another local company. We’re partnering with them to deliver educational programming around sort of like aquatic and bioinspired engineering. I think that’s something that really naturally speaks to kids,” said Scott Alton, a museum educator.

It was a bio-inspired engineering activity led by museum educator Scott Alton who guided the kids through their inventions.

“I know a lot of kids get really excited by wildlife and aquatic wildlife especially. So it’s trying to bring that inspiration and wonder that kids have into hands-on engineering and getting kids into STEM,” said Alton.

He says the program helps to inspire kids to want to get involved in STEM and improve their science and engineering literacy outside of school.

“I think it’s really important to get kids early into thinking about science, getting those critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills. And by getting their hands on this stuff, I think that’s a good way to do it. Instead of just, you know, learning facts or sitting in a classroom,” said Alton

Kids as young as 5 participated in the program and museum staff say that they were proud to see them embrace the project and find creative ways to overcome their challenges.

“We definitely designed it for that like 10-, 11-year-old age group. But it was awesome to have the younger kids here... I think that it does a good job of going beyond just science and does some good social, social and emotional learning as well. You know, the first thing you tried doesn’t always work. Can you come back and try again until you get something cool,” said Alton.