RovingFiddlehead KidLit

Making Monday: Toothbrush Robots

July 6, 2015

Mini robots created with parts from old toothbrushes (both standard and electric) take center stage today.

Bristlebots

bristlebot

Photo by Windell Oskay

Bristlebots are a popular “first robot” project with many sets of instructions available on the Internet. The Show-Me Librarian has a great step-by-step poster from her Bristlebot program. Handy for anybody, but especially large groups. The video from Make is very clear. The basic ingredients are:

Toothbrush
Pager motor (or vibrator from an old cell phone)
Double-sided foam tape
1 coin cell battery
2 small pieces of wire (if your battery or motor doesn’t have wires attached)
Decorating supplies!

Another alternative is purchasing a BristleBot kit from MakerShed with all suppllies (including precut toothbrushes) except for the art supplies for embellishment. (July 2015 pricing: $19.99 for 4 BristleBots)

Dish Scrubber Bots: Cutting the toothbrush handles can be the most challenging part of this project, Mellssa of Making It Sweet and her children attended a workshop that used dish scrubbers instead.

Light-tracking Bristlebots: Amy Cowen and family used the Science Buddies kit which adds a breadboard and circuitry so the bristlebot tracks the light as it moves about. She provides a clear outline of how her family learned about breadboards and resistors with this project.

Drawing Bots

Maker Jawn curriculum for creating Art Bots with parts from old (or Dollar Store) electric toothbrushes.

For a much simpler variety, just keep the electric toothbrush together and attach markers as Hillside Library did. While it doesn’t give children a chance to learn much about electronics, it can be a fun intro project if you are short on time or dealing with a really large group.Hillsdale Toothbrush Squiggle Machine

Maker Notables

Dale Doughtery. Founder of MAKE magazine and Maker Faires, Doughtery has been and continues to be a source of inspiration for oh-so-many makers. MakerCamp kicked off today.  @dalepd

Laura Fleming. Library media specialist, author and, with educator Travis Lape, cohost of Movers and Makers Podcast.  @NMHS_lms

Tinkering Studio at The Exploratorium. In addition to amazing programs they offer in their community, The Tinkering Studio shares instructions for a wide variety of maker projects on their site. For the second summer, they are leading an online Tinkering Fundamentals Course geared to educators and librarians through Coursera (session begins July 22).

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