Google CAPE (Computing and Programming experience) was über awesome and a very valuable experience. Google took me and another couple dozen 8th-graders (soon to be high school freshmen) to their campus for three weeks filled with programming, building, discussing the future of technology with industry experts, and touring awesome places like IDEO and Stanford’s D-School.
At the end of all of it, after more than a little time spent at home on my project, I ended up with a robot that more or less retrievs the newspaper for its user. I called it πDough (like Fido, because it’s a dog, get it?!) and it’s built with the chassis of an RC car and an Arduino with an IR LED and an IR-sensitive photoresistor for sensing distance to obstacles and the paper it seeks. It runs in a random pattern, covering the driveway like a Roomba vacuum until it finds what it’s looking for, at which point it engages its lifter, a sophisticated rig composed of a coathanger bent into a scooper and a set of servos.
Check out the video of it in action: