Ben Rerden worked with Data 61 researcher Dr Nick Hockings at the CSIRO Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies, Pullenvale, QLD
Ben applied for the Teacher Researcher in Partnership Program to quench his thirst for knowledge and a desire to create authentic learning experiences and engaging lessons for students. He aims to improve science literacy and prepare students for jobs of the future.
The project: Mechatronic control of a fibre spinning machine
The project aimed to develop an extruder to create conductive wires as thin as 10-20 microns. These fibres would be used to emulate sensory nerves in soft robot applications.
Ben was involved with several aspects of the project. From the design of a syringe driver and spool to 3D printing the fibre. Ben was also involved with the physical assembly of the electrical and mechanical components and extended his knowledge of writing code for the motors, thermistors and heaters of the extruder. Ben also tested various parameters to optimise the fibre production.
Through the project placement Ben has gained knowledge in programming languages using Arduino, an open-source hardware and software company, that designs and manufactures single-board microcontrollers and microcontroller kits for building digital devices. He also developed a better understanding of 3D design and testing procedures.
Back in the classroom Ben used his experience to explore and experiment with properties of materials. He has implemented the design and development of circuits using Arduino and discusses the practical applications of thermodynamics with his students.
Ben has made use of his knowledge of the Arduino sensors, and has worked with students to attach them to high altitude balloons to capture data from students' projects.
Following on from his TRiPP experience Ben developed the resource Modelling the Human Hand, linking his experience developing conductive wires to emulate the nerves of the human hand.
Ben is an advocate for delivering real science to his students and demonstrating the applications of what they are being taught in the classroom. He also has a passion to extend students in areas they have a great interest in.
Teacher developed resource
A range of STEM resources developed by our Teacher Researcher in Partnership Program alumni are available for free download. You can download Ben's student inquiry based lesson at: Modelling the Human Hand