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