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Building Junkbots—Robots from Recycled Materials

Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
1 hour
Total Time
1 hour
Area of Science
Robotics
Key Concepts
Circuits, friction, engineering design
Learning Objectives
  • Understand the difference between open, closed, and short circuits.
  • Apply the engineering design process to iteratively test and improve a robot.

Overview

Junkbots are easy-to-build robots that you can make using a simple circuit and some recyclable materials. In this lesson, your students will learn about engineering design as they compete to build the fastest robot. No previous robotics experience is required!

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions. A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it.
Cause and Effect. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Structure and Function. Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used.

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


Materials for junkbot lesson plan

For each student or small group of students building a robot, you will need these items in the Bristlebot Robotics Kit from our partner Home Science Tools (also available as a Classroom Kit specially priced for teachers):

  • Motor (1)
  • AA batteries (2)
  • Battery pack (1)
  • Note: Each kit contains enough parts for two Junkbots, as well as parts for two Vibrobots.

For the entire class, you will need:

  • Assorted recycled materials (cardboard, clean plastic bottles, etcetera)
  • Assorted craft materials (pipe cleaners, googly eyes, etcetera)
  • Corks
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Small Phillips head screwdrivers
  • Optional: hot glue guns (adult supervision recommended for young students)
  • Optional: hobby knives (adult supervision recommended for young students)
  • Open floor space on a smooth surface (not carpet)

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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
1 hour
Total Time
1 hour
Area of Science
Robotics
Key Concepts
Circuits, friction, engineering design
Learning Objectives
  • Understand the difference between open, closed, and short circuits.
  • Apply the engineering design process to iteratively test and improve a robot.

Class Materials