Recently, a team of Harvard researchers developed bricks that are actually flexible, stretchy, bendable and inflatable. Just the kind of unimaginable innovation that could get your kids interested in robotics and STEM.
Introducing Click-e-Bricks, the soft and pliable building blocks that are a great introduction for young kids to the world of soft robotics. Like LEGOs, these bricks can be built together to create impressive structures. They also have the added benefit of being bendable, squishy, and according to Tech Times, can be inflated like little balloons and “then return to their original shape.”
Click-e-bricks are the brainchildren of George Whitesides and his team of researchers at Harvard University. Whitesides and his team wanted to make soft robots that would get kids interested in advanced robotics in the future. Remember Bubbles, the soft robotic fish from MIT? It’s the same kind of innovation that has led the Harvard team to create these neat little robots for kids to play with.
With LEGO as their inspiration, the team used a 3D type of printer in order to build a mold that would form a brick with 6 by 9 dimensions. The mold was then filled with a flexible variety of plastic, one that could be easily cut down to size with a razor blade. The team described their unique creation as click-fit elastomeric bricks, otherwise known as “click-e-bricks.”
The research team is optimistic that their work would bring great opportunities for several collaborations involving robotics, science on soft materials, and organic chemistry. It could also be a great stepping-stone for young children into the world of STEM–getting them interested in building more than just robots in the future.
The research could also be great for the future of science as well. According to Forbes, “The ability of soft robots to climb onto textured surfaces and irregular shapes, crawl along wires and ropes, and burrow into complex, confined spaces will take them to places the hard robots of today can’t venture.These robots can be very useful in the biomedical field. They could play an important role in surgeries. They can also aid victims in dangerous situations by easily crawling into the scene.”
Isn’t it great that scientists and researchers are reaching out to young kids to get them interested in the future? There are tons of great gadgets and toys that can poke a child’s curiosity about how the world works, like LEGO, LittleBits, and Goldie Blox for girls. Hopefully, Click-e-Bricks will be another great toy that will help spark kids’ imagination about what robotics and STEM could mean for their own future.
Photo credit: Tech Times