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You have to start somewhere.

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Being a working woman and a mom to a nine-year-old boy is tiring. One has to go to work, do chores around the house and then remain involved in every activity of your kid as the mentor and friend. Since a very young age, I tried to create James interest in electronics and mechanics. He was allowed to take apart his toys, the only condition being that he will fix them afterward. Though most of the times that condition was not met, I made sure that we figured out the reason for the inability. Most often that being a broken component or a lost screw, but it still gave James a lot to learn. As time passed, James’s interest grew enough to want to construct things on his own. He was gifted the 101 Electronic lab kit which allowed him to design his own projects. Most of them were simple enough, like lighting an LED and making a screeching circuit but it gave James a place to apply his creativity.

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Since his last birthday, which was a themed party where everyone was made to come as robots, he has been intent on building his own robot. The most challenging task when working on that young a mind is keeping it interested. James has always been impatient and likes to quickly see the results of his work.  Through my research, I have learned that building a robot with substantial abilities for James takes time, expertise and patience. All of these James has not mastered yet. So I decided to divert him from electronic robots. I made him design a robot body that will do all the functions of his remote controlled car. But he should be able to make it with the materials available in the house. I also pointed out some things that he can consider like the cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, the wooden pieces in our shed etc.

For him, this was new. The electronic projects that he had made till then had no appearance aspect. They were just components stuck in a breadboard. This truly kept him busy for weeks, as he collected materials and brought them to me with markings where the screws had to be hammered and holes be burnt. Even I, being the busy mom, enjoyed seeing this adorable little robot coming together. It even had eyes (distance sensor) mounted on from bumper.. Once this was ready, I made James take off the body of his remote controlled car which, by then he was an expert at owing to the pile of ruined toys in our shed. Once the body was removed and it was ensured that the remaining parts work efficiently, we added Arduino Nano and H-bridge motor driver and fixed it into the robot body with the help Arduino IDE, and Google search and few wires ripped from other busted toys. Arduino has a large community on line, so you can get help resolve any challenge, including programming and wiring issues. All you need can be found on eBay for very little money.

Ah! The joy we felt when we saw our robot racing through the house and showed it to James’s dad. I will always feel smug for coming up with that idea. It is one of the biggest and most time-consuming projects James has worked on so far. Maybe, he isn’t that impatient after all. This is a Beta version. to be improved, especially coding, but it is good enough to ignite kids interest. 

Ayesha Siddique

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