Astronaut Tools

In the first-year intro-to-engineering class at Tufts University, Aaron Johnson and I created a “space themed” project around developing tools that could be used by astronauts in space in order to perform typical tasks that happen on an EVA (extravehicular activity, or space walk): moving nuts between bolts or routing wires.

Nuts and Bolts Challenge ES93-06 Space Project Moving Bolts

ES93-06 Space Project Wire Routing Wire Routing Challenge

The students had to leverage the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 hardware in order to develop a new tool to accomplish this task, and were evaluated by an in-class competition to see which tools performed the best/fastest.

Special thanks to Astronaut Don Pettit for the assignment inspiration, Former Astronaut Jeff Hoffman for sharing his experiences with the class, and Leah Fletcher for editing the video.


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Ethan Danahy
Dr. Ethan Danahy is a Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) with secondary appointment in the Department of Computer Science within the School of Engineering at Tufts University, outside of Boston MA. Having received his graduate degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Tufts University, he continues research in the design, implementation, and evaluation of different educational technologies. Ranging from software and hardware to interfaces and environments, Prof. Danahy explores how these tools can improve interactive educational pedagogies through supports aimed at learners in K-12 through university classrooms. With particular focus on engaging students in the STEAM content areas, he focuses his investigations on enhancing creativity and innovation, supporting better documentation, and encouraging collaborative learning.
Ethan Danahy

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