Join students Sophie, Tomás, Emma, and Marcus during Fifth Period! This STEM comic strip chronicles the exciting and often hilarious adventures of a close-knit group of four friends as they learn about science, technology, engineering, and math from their kooky, inspiring, off-the-wall science teacher, Mr. Kepler. When they're not in class, these kids love to explore the vast world of STEM on their own, launching weather balloons, programming computer games, and cataloging insects, sometimes with unpredictable and highly entertaining results!
Check back on the first and third Friday of every month for a new Fifth Period strip!
Robodog is one special toy robot—Tomás has figured out how to control him with brain power. Most robots (mechanical devices capable of doing complex tasks automatically) require some kind of input in order to work—usually programming. These days, however, clever scientists and engineers have figured out how to convert brain and nerve signals (you know that's your body's own electricity, right?) into inputs that robots can use! It's the main concept they're using for the next generation of prosthetics.
Prosthetics are artificial limbs for people who have lost them due to injury or sickness. Nowadays, prosthetics can be robotic, and some are actually controlled with our brains. Check out this video of an actual patient controlling a prosthetic arm using a brain–computer interface. Pretty cool, right? Although it's highly unlikely that someone could "switch brains" with a robot they are connected to via brain–computer interface (like Robodog and Tomás), scientists are actually thinking of ways that a prosthetic limb can provide sensory feedback to a user, in a way that can help them "feel" again.
Try it yourself!
You can make your own "robot" hand with stuff around the house. Granted, it's not going to replace your real hand, but it can be a neat tool for grabbing things or scaring people. In this case, the input is the movement of your own hand. So, grab an adult to help, and start building!