Once upon a time, a primary school boy aged only 10, attended science class at school. It had been announced that the school would be putting on its first ever school play, and all of the school would be participating! This was a most exciting announcement for many, an anxious moment for some, and a very stressful moment for many of the teachers and volunteers needed to pull-off a production of this size.
The production would to be based on the Ancient Greek story “The Odyssey”, and each class was given a scene to perform. This young boy’s class was given the scene of “The Cyclops”, and the science teacher was explaining how he would create a cyclops head, using chicken mesh and paper mache. The young shy boy, sat at the back of the class, ideas brewing in his mind, and it took all his courage to put his hand up and make a suggestion. “I can make his eye robotic” he said, sheepishly. The other students laughed, “As if”, one of them muttered.
That evening, the young boy, told his mother about the play and his idea. She supported him with his concept and approached the science teacher, explaining that this young boy, had actually been attending a robotics club for over a year, and he most likely, could pull off this idea of creating a robotic eye.
The science teacher was very intrigued with the concept and agreed to lend the cyclops head, a simple mesh structure at this stage, to the boy and his mother, so it could be taken to the robotics club, for further planning and brain-storming.
In just one afternoon, a design was created, along with the associated code written for the Arduino board, that would drive a servo motor, to move the eye, one way, pause, then move it to the centre, pause a little bit longer, then move to the other side. This gave the Cyclops costume so much more life and wonder.
The cyclops head was returned to the school the following week, and the science teacher’s eyes lit up when he saw the movement this young boy had created. The cyclops went on to become the highlight of the play, the young boy now known by everyone as the “Cyclops Boy”. This young shy boy is Sebastian, a child who lost his father to brain cancer at the tender age of 6. He learnt about Techspace Learning at one of the Science Fairs at Tonsley, and was immediately drawn to all the gadgetry in the display. Concerned that he would be too young to join the club, his Mum contacted the founder of Techspace Learning, Don Eickhoff, and a long conversation later, Sebastian joined the robotics club and signed up for his first 8 week beginners workshop class. At just 9 years old, he kept his focus for the entire 90 minute session, and was totally “hooked”.
Now, at age 12, Sebastian helps out at almost all displays, writes code at an intermediate level, and helps out at Introductory and Beginners workshops. He attends the City Robotics Club every Saturday afternoon, and continues to love the world of electronics and robotics. He hopes to be able to attend a high school that will allow him to expand his mind even further, and continue to challenge him. However, as he is already thinking and coding far beyond his years, the Robotics Club is most likely the place that will continue to inspire and challenge him.
As for the Cyclops, well he now has a new home at Techspace Learning, and has also had an “Upgrade”. Not only does his eye move around, but the team at the City Robotics Club added sensors to a collar around his neck. This along with some additional coding, meant he now moved his eye to “look” at who ever is closest to him, even following them if they move! He was given the name of George, and is now one of the favourites at our Science Fairs displays.