Author: Ry

Making little robots and using breadboards!

General Topics: Engineering, Basic Robotics, Electric Energy, Electronics, Circuits
Grade Level: 2-3

In this activity we explored the process of making small robots and learning how to use switches and breadboards! This exercise taught us how to prototype circuits by using a breadboard and teach the fundamentals of creating small devices from electrical components! Students were then able to decorate their little robots.

Each student started off making the small robot, placing the robot legs on the cardboard and placing them in such a way that when the motor vibrates the robot will move back and forth and shake. When complete with the robot base, the motor was glued on along with the small off center propeller. This propeller also was purposely made uneven to allow for more movement when the motor was turned on.

The students then put the robots aside as they worked on the switches! The students made a stylish paperclip-switch to use for the breadboards.

Next, the breadboards! Together we learned to wire the breadboards and understand the orientation of the pins. We used the breadboard to wire up lighting a small LED light, then we added in our little robots and bam! They were moving!


This class we learned: 

  • How to use a breadboard 
  • How a circuit works
  • How to make a simple robot
  • How to wire multiple items on a breadboard from the same power source

Things to keep in mind for future activities: 

  • Using a breadboard took a little while to pick up and understand, but saying exactly where to add the wires in (ex: J22) made it easy to follow!
  • More time would be ideal for removing the wiring from the breadboard and using it just on the cardboard so the students could take it home
  • Soldering the wires is more ideal and sturdy than tape

Balloon Cars!

General Topics: Kinetic Energy, Mechanics, Physics, Simple Machines
Grade Level: 2-3

In this activity we explored the process of how forces work and how a force in one direction can cause motion in the opposite direction (Newton’s third law). The exercise had the students learning how to make a car powered by a balloon to be blown up and released. This gives the car forward motion!

Each student was given the cardboard pieces to assemble together, followed by the pencil axle, and the wheels. While the cardboard pieces were already cut to size, the students still had to measure the car sides and cut in slots for their wheel axles. This taught them how to use a ruler and measure items in inches. When the wheels and body were complete, the balloon was added and students could race their balloon cars!

This class we learned:

  • Newton’s third law (every action has an opposite and equal reaction)
  • Using a ruler and the difference between meters and inches

Things to keep in mind for future activities: 

  • Originally we were hoping to add a motor to the car or another electronic component but with the time to make the car, there was not enough time for an additional electronic component. In the future possibly pre-assembling the car or splitting into two sessions would be best

Making Motors!

General Topics: Electromagnetic Energy, Electronics, Physics, Simple Machines
Grade Level: 2-3

In this activity we explored the process of how electromagnetism works and how electromagnetism is used to create motors! The exercise had the students learning how to make a very basic motor using a copper wire, magnets, and a battery passing current through the device. The students had to find the best height above the magnets to allow for wire movement!

Each student was first given the copper wire to coil up themselves. Once in a coil, the students used sandpaper to remove the coating on the wire (as it was galvanized).

The students were then given their cups, paper clips, and magnets and asked to assemble the body of their motors. The students were then given the alligator clips and battery to hook up their circuit. The paper clips were initially placed in a semi arbitrary distance from the magnet, but the actual distance of the paper clip from the magnet would vary and the students worked to find the ideal distance! Students worked to find what distance worked best to get their motors going. Once completed, their copper coils went spinning!

This class we learned:

  • What a magnetic field is
  • What an electromagnetic field is
  • How current running through a wire creates an electromagnetic field
  • How motors work
  • How magnets work

Things to keep in mind for future activities: 

  • Students had a bit of trouble coiling the wires. For this age group we may want to pre-coil them
  • Future designs of the paper cup motor should allow for easier movement of the paperclips to change the distance from the magnet