Sunday, February 28, 2021

‘I’m in Fourth Grade, I Built a Robotic Sanitizer Dispenser’


I’m mostly interested in robotics and building and my favorite subjects at school are coding, math and English, because you get to do different activities and they’re always fun. I go to Harmony Science Academy in Lubbock, Texas, I’m in the fourth grade right now and I’m nine years old.

In my spare time I mostly play with my Lego, but I was inspired to make a robotic hand sanitizer dispenser after I was at the hospital in June 2020 when my sister was born. We couldn’t touch anything at the hospital because of the pandemic, but we were using hand sanitizer where you had to push the pump. The thought came to my mind: why can’t I just make a machine that works without touching anything? One where you just put your hand under it and it squirts out hand sanitizer.

My Dad and I started looking for blueprints online, we went on YouTube and started searching videos. It probably took us about a week to find one. We didn’t have to buy anything because we were able to use Lego Mindstorms EV3 at my school. EV3 is a robotics set, with motors and bricks you can program.

My school is a STEM school, so we are focused on math and science and I have been in the robotics club at school since last year, so I am familiar with making robots. We have a makerspace with tools like 3D printers, woodworking materials and a laser cutter—you can do lots of stuff there. After school my teacher Emily Headlee would be in the makerspace while I made my robot with my friends, but she mostly just supervised us as we used the blueprints.

First, we started making the body of the robot and after that we put the two motors on the side so they would push down the hand sanitizer. Then, we had to check everything out to see if it worked. When it was all built we started coding. The robot measures distance using a sensor and activates motors that dispense the sanitizer if the motion is close enough. But we did add some of our own details. At first, the dispenser where the hand sanitizer squirted out was moving around a lot one way and the other, so we put two walls either side of it so it wouldn’t go crazy! It took me around five after school sessions to make it, each one was an hour and 30 minutes long.

pandemic, coronavirus, school, sanitizer
Ihsan Aydogdu with his robotic hand sanitizer dispenser.
Imran Aydogdu

When it was finished, most people said, “wow, you did a very good job!” So we took it to the principal’s office and showed him how it worked. He also said “good job” and showed it to people, too. I would like to see my robot in hospitals, and I’m thinking it would also be good to have it in lots of popular places where there are lots of people.

I’m actually making another robot now, it’s a puppy and it can walk and my friends and I are making it from EV3 parts like the other robot. But instead of squirting hand sanitizer it’s going to walk and push things like a normal robot would. We’re going to try to code it and see what happens. If my friends help me it will probably take me another week to build.

My mom and dad are both teachers and more into gardening than robotics, but they are proud of me. My mom said that she was very proud of me when I was on TV. I was very nervous, because I had to speak for quite a while on TV about my robot.

When the pandemic is over I’m planning on joining some clubs and learning a little bit more about robotics. I want to be an engineer when I’m older and build airplanes, tanks and all sorts of stuff. Thomas Edison inspires me, he got more than 1,000 patents for his inventions. I want to try and beat that and maybe go to 2,000.

I feel proud that I have built something that can help people. I think people need to get a bit more serious about the pandemic, because I don’t want to see any more people dying.

Ihsan Adogdu is in fourth grade at Harmony Science Academy in Lubbock, Texas. He lives in Lubbock with his family and wants to be an engineer when he is older.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

As told to Jenny Haward.

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