Quantum Moves Robot
This story begins around the time we were helping Seth, an eight year old schoolboy, with his science fair project in Salt Lake City, Utah. Inspired by the enthusiasm of our young followers, we started to ponder how can we introduce our research to more kids like Seth. And what a better place to reach curious little scientists-to-be than science museums!
That’s how we set out to bring Quantum Moves (and citizen science in general) to science museums. While playing games on your screen is fun, it is not the most exciting thing you can do in the museum. Kids are curious for science that they can directly observe, touch and interact with.
“When observing how kids explore science museums, the digital exhibits are largely ignored. Kids want something that they could get their hands on and mess around with”– says Janet. Janet Rafner is a ScienceAtHome collaborator from the US who curated her own exhibition, Call Me Quantum, at the Science Museum of Virginia and at the Niels Bohr Institute for Copenhagen Culture night (in collaboration with Physics Reimagined). She is also a devoted visitor of science museums around the world. Together with Janet, we decided to build a physical, robotic version of Quantum Moves!
Last year, with a help from Professor Claus Melvad and his Bachelor students taking the Introduction to Mechatronics course at Aarhus University, we started a new project. The class of 12 students was split into groups, each group had a goal of coming up with an idea for a robot that embodied the game play of Quantum Moves.
Although our students are still finishing work on the project, we do have a working prototype! So, how does the Quantum Moves Robot (QM Robot) look? Well, you have probably heard us saying that controlling Quantum Moves function in the digital game resembles carrying a very full cup of water in real life. The QM Robot applies that metaphor in practice!
Our robot is made of lots of electronics, a wide flat plastic panel, and a hovering cup that carries the water. The best part? You get to control it with a Wii controller! Using the controller, you have to guide the cup of water to the targeted area, trying to go quickly while spilling as little as possible. The robot has sensors which determine the weight of the water at the beginning and the end of the gameplay. So, you can see how much water was spilled. Like in the digital version, we can increase the difficulty of the game by placing various obstacles which need to be avoided for the water to reach the targeted area. The robot exhibit is intended to be offered in conjunction with the Quantum Moves game on a tablet computer.
If our project reaches science museums, the visitors will have the opportunity to not only physically interact with the Quantum Moves robot and game, but also learn a lot of exciting facts about actual quantum computers along the way. “Seeing a science exhibition that collects real scientific data is quite rare,” says Janet. Hopefully, we can fix that. Let’s give our citizen science games a new platform and inspire science-curious people to get involved in citizen science!
See it for yourself:
Aukse from ScienceAtHome