Arushi Nath, Grade 5.

Making things is learning. When I build things I learn a lot of new things. Making things is also a fun and creative activity.

The availability of easy to use electronic components, microcontrollers, and programming tools means that I can easily turn things I imagine into reality. The more you make things the better you get at making more complex projects. And then you have to keep looking for even more challenging projects to make. The fun never ends.

win-arushi-bmt
Arushi is the Winner of the BMT Global Home STEM Challenge

The closure of schools because of COVID19 meant that learning continued outside of classrooms.  Many organizations offered STEM Competitions for students to participate.

 

I learned about the BMT Global Home STEM Challenge a couple of months ago. I was interested in it as it involved space, satellites, drones: all the things I like. The Competition was open to kids 10-16 years. The task was to come up with an idea or a project involving STEM involving satellites, drones, or transport.

I was excited and decided to enter the competition. During this time, I read on the internet that huge swarms of locusts were eating up crops in Asia and Africa. These locusts could eat up the entire field leaving farmers and kids hungry. This gave me the idea of a Drone Bot that could follow the locusts, track them, and report their position.

So I decided to make a Dragonfly Drone. Dragonflies are the most efficient hunters in the world. They are able to catch their prey 97% of the time and are better hunters than lions and sharks. This happens because dragonflies have only 16 visual neurons which allow fast decision making. And they are able to quickly send signals to their wings to fly and catch the prey.

I also had recently taken an online course on Logic Gates and found them very fascinating as they could make decisions using only 0s and 1s as inputs. I decided to use Logic Gates and Sensors in my Dragonfly Drone to make decisions.

arushi logic
My Drone with the Logic Gates Circuit I used

The logic gates would act as neurons of the Dragonfly and the sensors (light sensor and ultrasonic sensor) would allow the dragonfly to get information about its environment. The light sensor would allow Dragonfly to identify that the locusts are ahead of it. And the ultrasonic sensor would give the distance to the locusts. These decisions would be fed to logic gates. The logic gates made using the Universal NAND gate would make the decision: whether or not to flap the wings. The wings were controlled using servos.

The body of the drone was made using an old plastic bottle. My brother helped me in making the paper locust using origami.

It was a very interesting project for me as it would combine all my knowledge to solve a challenge. It took me several attempts and over 3 weeks to build it.

Drone 1
Close up of the Dragonfly DroNeS

The biggest challenge was to wire 3 NAND gates together to make an AND gate and sending signals to control the servos. But I managed to do the building and the coding. I used an old water bottle for the body of the drone and named it Dragonfly DroNeS (Drone + Neurons + Sensors).

I made a video of my project and submitted it to the BMT Challenge. It was a very pleasant surprise for me to learn that I actually won the BMT Challenge. As a prize, I will get to have a conversation with the BMT Engineer to improve my Drone.

I am looking forward to it. I plan to add solar panels and a camera to the Drone so that it could fly longer distances and take photographs. Hope I can collaborate with BMT to improve my drone further and making it more effective in fighting locusts.

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