Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bristlebots Vibrating Creations, a S.T.R.E.A.M. event

Create mini robots!

A recent library program I did incorporated small brushes, wires, tape, lots of patience, and the willingness to keep trying, and trying, and trying until it finally worked!  My bristlebot program did not go exactly as a I planned.  First off, the motor kits we ordered online got lost in the mail.  Literally.  I quickly needed to come up with a plan B.  I had a few days to figure out how to take apart dollar store electric toothbrushes, attach the motor to a brush, and stay in budget.  (Hint: The brush on the toothbrush was way too small to work with the motor.) With some help from my significant other, I think I came up with something pretty decent to show my young friends.

I started off my program by showing the children how to put together a bristle bot:

  1. Attach wire leads to the loops on the motor (the silver colored wires attach to one loop and the copper colored wires attach to the other loop.  
  2. Cover and secure these wires with electrical tape. 
  3. Use double-sided tape to attach the motor unit to the brush.
  4. Attach the battery to the brush (the handle is a good place for this) with electrical tape.  
  5. Adhere one color of wire to the positive end of the battery with electrical tape.  Then adhere the other color of wire to the negative end of the battery with electrical tape.  (Tip: If you flip the wires, the brush will spin in the opposite direction.)
  6. Optional: Decorate your robot with supplies provided (colored electrical tape, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, etc.). 

With this explanation done, I let them gather their supplies and start creating. The most trying part for both the children and their parents was getting the wires to connect so a circuit can be created.  Really, this was extremely hard!  The vibrating of the motor would sometimes cause the wires to move so they no longer touched the battery or the metal loops on the motor.  This got very frustrating for some children.  But some children took this in stride and made it work.  I love the decorated Bristlebots the children created.  It was even fun to watch some children try to paint with their Bristlebots, despite the mess.  


Here is a list of what each child and/or group needed to get started creating their very own Bristlebot:
  • 1/2 inch of double-sided tape
  • Brush
  • Motor
  • One length of wire (I used speaker wire: pre-cut, striped on the ends, and separated at each end)
  • Battery (AA)
  • Electrical tape
  • Scissors

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