Fun With Art… And Robots!

largeIt seems that Winter has finally arrived and – since we’ve had it easy (I mean really easy…) this winter, we may all be struggling a bit with what to do with a sudden “wealth” of indoor time now that the cold, ice and snow have arrived.

We thought this would be the perfect time to introduce a series of instructional blogs — sharing our Explore It! know how with you — so that you can experiment with different crafts, projects and recipes at home with your children.Over the coming months, we’ll share our tried, tested and true activities (straight from our rad programs!) that are sure to get you through the weekends, PA Days, holidays and breaks. Some will take a bit of planning while others will use only what you can find around the house… First up – a real crowd pleaser from our ArtBots program… because who doesn’t want a robot that draws all by itself?!? Enjoy!

 

Make Your Very Own Drawing-Bot!

The Drawing Bot is a real hit in our Artbot classes, as it incorporates the basics of circuits, batteries and motors with the design of a simple robot that will draw all by itself! Follow the step-by-step instructions below to make your very own Drawing Bot from home!

 

You will need:

  • a small disposable tupperware container or disposable cup, with a minimum 2 inch diameter
  • electrical tape
  • 1 9V battery
  • 1 hobby motor
  • 1 battery snap, same size attachments as 9V battery
  • small flat-nose pliers
  • wire strippers
  • 4 markers, all the same length
  • hot glue gun
  • recyclables or craft materials to decorate
  • large brown craft paper or bristol board to lay on floor

Instructions:

  1. First, have your child inspect the battery, battery snap, and hobby motor, guessing which is which, how they might work together, and what the function of each is. (Hint: remember to plug in your hot glue gun now so it is heated for later!)
  2. Once your child has a basic understanding of each component, put the 9V battery aside and attach the hobby motor to the battery snap. To attach the hobby motor and the battery snap, ensure the battery snap has two cords (they may need to be separated by pulling from the top down). Ensure there is about 1 cm of exposed wire at the top of each of these cords. (If there is not enough exposed wire, use wire strippers to expose additional wire.) Attach the red wire from the hobby motor to one of the cords from the battery snap, ensuring the wires are in contact and wrapping them around each other (create a hook with the stronger wire, and then wrap the second wire around it like a twist tie). Secure with a small piece of electrical tape, as this connection will be fragile. Repeat with the blue (or black) wire and the second battery snap cord, and tape.
  3. When the battery snap and hobby motor are secure, attach the battery snap to the 9V battery and test the hobby motor. Does it work? If yes, continue to step 4. In not, use trial and error to assess whether it is the battery, motor, or battery snap that is not working. Sometimes your wires just need a bit of jiggling to ensure they are in the right spot. Remember: metal (wire) is a conductor but plastic is not. Therefore, the metal MUST be in contact for the components to work.
  4. If working, put your circuit to the side momentarily. Take your tupperware, remove the lid, and turn it upside-down. Using scissors, carefully poke a small hole near the edge of any side on the bottom of the tupperware (make sure an adult does this part!). The hole should be big enough to fit the battery snap and wires through, but does not have to be big enough to fit the 9V battery.
  5. Using the hot glue gun, attach the bottom of the hobby motor to the bottom of the tupperware, near the hole you made. Ensure that it is placed so that the piston of the motor is off the edge, and the wires and battery snap can reach through the hole (therefore allowing the battery to go inside the tupperware itself).
    Have your child use trial-and-error to test the best placement for the 9V battery within the tupperware. When they’ve decided where they want it, use electrical tape to secure it in place (this allows the battery to be relocated later if they would like to change the movement of the Bot).
  6. Ensure the motor is still working effectively now that everything is in place. When the battery is attached and the Bot is on, it should dance around a flat surface, but not with great momentum. To add momentum, cut a small piece of eraser and attach it to the piston. The size and placement of the eraser will affect how the Bot moves, making it dance in different patterns and directions! Use a small dab of hot glue on the end of the piston to secure the eraser (sometimes it likes to fly away!).
  7. Attach 4 markers of the same length to the Bot. They should be evenly spaced around the outside of the tupperware, extending past the top of the original tupperware (which is now the bottom) to create legs. They can be attached with either hot glue or electrical tape, or both.
  8. Decorate the Bot as you see fit! Use recyclable materials around the house or leftover craft supplies to make it into any creature you can possibly imagine! Just remember to test before permanently gluing anything heavy on: added weight will affect the way the Bot moves!
  9. Lay your craft paper or bristol board on the floor, uncap your markers, attach the battery, and let your Bot run wild! The markers will create beautiful, abstract art as your Bot dances around the paper due to the circuit you created!

Still want more? Experiment with adding and removing weight and decor to your Drawing Bot, or create another Drawing Bot to dance simultaneously, and see how these and other changes affect your artwork!

 

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