How to make a Drawing Robot
Drawing Robots use small electric motors to move. The motor is powered by a battery and spins if the circuit is complete. To make a drawing robot move you just need to add something to the end of the motor which will spin. It’s the vibrations from the spinning of the motor arm that make the drawing robot move.
The challenge for this activity is to build a working drawing robot and investigate how changing the size of the motor arm changes how the robot draws.
- Plastic cup or other small container
- 3V DC Motor
- Motor Clip – optional
- AA Battery
- 2 leads
- Thick elastic band or battery holder
- Craft stick or long K’nex piece
- Felt tip pens
- Duck tape or sellotape
- To construct a simple electrical circuit, identify and name basic parts.
- Recognise that the circuit must be complete for the motor to spin.
- Set up a simple investigation and recognise the need to a fair test.
- Use observations to suggest answers to questions.
- Gather, record and display the data collected.
- Work as a team to share ideas.
1. Place a thick elastic band around a battery and attach to the top or inside of your container with tape. You can use a battery holder if easier.
2. Attach the motor to the top of the container; it needs to be close to the edge so the arm can spin freely.
3. Bend the exposed ends of the leads around the attachments on the motor.
4. Place the other end of each lead between the battery ends and elastic band to complete the circuit. Check the motor spins.
5. Use tape to attach 3 or 4 felt tips pens to the plastic cup. Remember it must be stable enough to stand unsupported.
6. Place a piece of cork onto the end of the motor, remove the lids from the felt tip pens and place the robot onto a large sheet of paper.
7. Turn the robot on by ensuring your circuit is complete and watch it go.
Change the length of the motor arm
Try adding a craft stick or different length pieces of K’nex to the cork to investigate how the movement of the drawing robot changes. Try each placed centrally and then slightly off centre.
Add a switch
Create a switch to turn the drawing robot on and off easily?
Change the robot body size
Make drawing robots using different size and weight containers to investigate how this affects the movement of the robot.
Remember when investigating to change just one variable for each investigation. For example if you’re investigating how changing the length of the motor arm affects how the robot moves, all other variables must be the same ( including the robot body, number and size of pens, type of paper, number of batteries, size of motor etc).
If younger students find it difficult to build the drawing robot we’d recommend starting those pupils with a robot already constructed. This still gives them the opportunity to learn about simple circuits and investigate how changing the motor arm affects how the robot draws.