Liquid-handling Lego robots and experiments for STEM education and research

Lukas C. Gerber, Agnes Calasanz-Kaiser, Luke Hyman, Kateryna Voitiuk, Uday Patil, Ingmar H. Riedel-Kruse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Liquid-handling robots have many applications for biotechnology and the life sciences, with increasing impact on everyday life. While playful robotics such as Lego Mindstorms significantly support education initiatives in mechatronics and programming, equivalent connections to the life sciences do not currently exist. To close this gap, we developed Lego-based pipetting robots that reliably handle liquid volumes from 1 ml down to the sub-μl range and that operate on standard laboratory plasticware, such as cuvettes and multiwell plates. These robots can support a range of science and chemistry experiments for education and even research. Using standard, low-cost household consumables, programming pipetting routines, and modifying robot designs, we enabled a rich activity space. We successfully tested these activities in afterschool settings with elementary, middle, and high school students. The simplest robot can be directly built from the widely used Lego Education EV3 core set alone, and this publication includes building and experiment instructions to set the stage for dissemination and further development in education and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2001413
JournalPLoS biology
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 21 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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