Thursday, November 19, 2015

Robot Update - Compost

One of the kids is living in Germany right now.  She is a
'founding member', having been on the floor playing
with my youngest since she was four while her older brother
programmed the LEGO robot.  So she Skypes in every week.
Her brother has a webcam mounted on our TV and actually
programs the metal robot and has my son run it while he watches
from Berlin. 
So our little guys and gals, Robot Revolution have published their project for this year on the very popular site,  If you haven't seen yet - it is a way for makers to distribute the instructions to make almost anything.  It was the brainchild of someone I knew at the Media Lab at MIT.  For this and a few other projects, he won the MacArthur Genius award.

The season's problem is Trash Trek - anything to do with the control of the world's trash.  We had a leg up as one of the children's extended family is in the 'biz.  They run several of the big recycling and composting operations in the Boston area.  We learned an amazing amount, including the harsh realities of today's recycling dilemma.  It was quite eye opening to go through a discussion of the tonnage of recycling per community, how much it costs to separate (as well as how) each type and how much the market will pay and what customers there are for it.  We got into the historical changes in the recycling stream as well.  The hard truth right now is that it costs more to separate than what can be sold.  And well-off communities recycle more useless materials (like imported green bottles - no one makes green glass in the USA) and less well off communities have more valuable recycling (less put in and a higher proportion of AL cans - the most valuable).

The kids tried out all kinds of ideas and just before I left for the Casket Tour they settled on making
We don't have fun around here!  Three small
robot kids fit in a composter or two big ones.
There was no end to the fun until we started
filling it with kitchen scraps!

home composting more viable.  As we poled everyone - we found out that all of us had some big composting bin somewhere on our property that was full but not really degrading (we inherited one at our last house - 15 years later it still wasn't dirt!).  They realized that no one wants to turn it, an essential requirement to make it degrade.  So if you don't get the air in, nothing happens.

I think we were up to 1700 views last time I checked.
So they came up with a way to retrofit the most popular yard composter in the world - the Earth Machine.  It is sold by most municipalities for 1/3 retail value, so was a good choice.  They built a solar powered 'stirrer' for the compost.  Take a look at it on the Instructables web site.  We need 'views' for our competition in December and would love you to add to it.   Instructables gave us a head start as they 'featured' us today, which really made the kids day.  They also entered the Robot competition with their project - so click the VOTE button at the top right of the page too and help them win some prizes.  Check out the movie (click 'see more' at the first set of pictures) too.

Wish them luck in their qualifier December 5th!

1 comment:

  1. Not sure the voting is working -- nothing happens when I click on the Vote button. Is voting restricted to only users who are members?