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New DNA Robot Workshop

05/12/2019   Tom

Over the past few years you may have seen pictures of our beloved robot “DNA Dave” who has been showcased around the country. Dave has had a complete overhaul in this year, with his ‘guts’ being ripped out and replaced with a micro:bit board, more accessible electronics and he has even been given a louder ‘voice’.

DNA Dave with team

DNA Dave at the Cambridge Science Festival

With the help of Ioannis, our computational scientist from Cambridge, we have designed a brand new, FREE cross-disciplinary workshop for schools, complete with supporting booklets that will help students understand coding, how to build a robot and the biology behind DNA Dave’s message.

We are looking to pilot this project in the Spring of 2020. It will span biology, coding, electronics and design and we feel could be suitable for science or coding clubs that are looking for a new topic to explore (students are welcome for across all year groups as long as they are keen!).

The kick-off workshop will take place after school one day during Science week in March next year at the John Innes Centre and will cover an introduction to the genetic code, transcription and translation, coding DNA strings of LEDs with a BBC micro:bit, simple electronics and robot design.  Each team will be given a robot starter kit (worth £100) including a micro:bit, an inventors kit, workshop booklets and other materials to take away to design and build their own robot. The booklets have been written by experienced biologists and coders to help guide the students through the necessary processes leaving scope for them to explore and expand in directions they find interesting to really make their robot their own!


We will offer help and advice as you progress towards building your own version of DNA Dave, where we encourage the reuse and recycling of materials to build the body. Then we will be inviting teams to bring their robots to a sharing event in the autumn as part of the Norwich Science Festival for a prize giving and for students from the participating schools to present their project and exchange their experiences.  We will also be inviting teachers from schools who couldn’t participate in the pilot project to attend to see how the project works and encourage them to set up their own project as all necessary teaching materials will be freely available online next year.


If you’d like to sign up for a space at the pilot workshop please let us know asap and if you have any questions do get in touch!