Astonishing Science. Spectacular museum.
Build your own robot and watch how it moves!
Year groups: 7–11 (ages 11–16)
Students will have the opportunity to make their own robot from the initial assembly of all the parts. They will be able to build an electric circuit and see the results by watching the robot move.
Robot Bug 1 Initial Steps
Download student activity sheet [pdf]
Robot Bug 2
This will cost approximately £2.30 per robot, but depending on how many you are going to build the costs will vary (the more you build, the cheaper each robot becomes).
Although this activity is about a simple robot there are many examples of robots in everyday life. Robots are now starting to be used in the home, where they are usually referred to as domestic robots. They include robots for vacuuming, mowing the lawn and entertaining (such as serving drinks). These robots can be programmed and then left to do the task themselves.
Boy with drinks robot, October 1984.
These can be programmed and automatically controlled for manufacturing purposes. Within industry they can be used for painting, packaging and assembly.
Unimate 2000B industrial robot c.1979.
These are made to assist in complex or minimally invasive surgery. Some complex prosthetics could also be considered robots as they react to the environment without the user needing to input any information, e.g. how tightly they grip an object without crushing it. Other robot devices include ones used to lift patients in hospitals and ones used to automate tedious tasks in laboratories.
‘Bloodbot’ with inventor Alex Zivanoovic, March 2001.
A robot is an artificial device that performs a task, reacting to its environment autonomously.
This robot uses a simple circuit to enable the wheels to move. Batteries provide electrical current that runs through the wires and to the individual components of the circuit. This energy is converted to electromotive force inside the motor, which enables the motor to move, spinning the wheels. Microswitches provide an added complexity: when a microswitch is pushed it reverses the opposite wheel, making the robot rotate so it will turn away from an obstacle and be able to start moving again.
These resources support integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths activities in STEM clubs. Here are some specific links:
By looking at different circuits students will see how they relate to a practical purpose in the robot that has been made.
By exploring the way the wires connect and the order in which they connect you will be able to support engineering.
Creating a cover for the bug that hides all the wires but does not stop it moving is a good practical technology exercise in this investigation.
Students can investigate the weight of the bugs, especially any additional items added, and see if weight and size influence the way the bug moves.
This resource has been developed specifically for use within Key Stage 3 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) clubs to provide enrichment and extension of the curriculum. However it may also be used for teaching elements of the curriculum at KS3 and KS4 in an engaging, inspiring and memorable way.
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