Making a Simple Robot!

Learning Objectives: To be able to describe and demonstrate the parts of a simple robot called a BrushBot and how each plays a role in the movement of the bot through circuitry.

I was trying to find a low-key robot that a young child would have fun designing with parental assistance. I was so thrilled when I discovered the BrushBot.

These small robots can be made from a common item, a toothbrush head, hence the name “Brush” Bot.  Their individual components come prepackaged in kits sold by companies such as the Maker Shed store.

BrushBots consist of a simple circuit. Electricity is provided by the battery. The wires are the path through which the electricity flows and the pager motor, when energized, vibrates, moving the bot.

How are They Made?

To make a BrushBot, you cut off the head of a toothbrush.  A piece of foam tape is used to attach the battery to the toothbrush head, and the motor is adhered to the battery with tape. Pre-stripped wire ends on the battery and motor are appropriately twisted into contact with one another. Once the wires touch, the BrushBot instantly starts moving around. The Maker Shed store kit also comes with stickers to make silly faces on the bot–kids love picking out those!

The fun that kids can have with BrushBots is endless. Children can race their BrushBots to see which is the fastest at getting down a track. They can design BrushBots of different colors, with a variety of faces and toothbrush head thicknesses. Emulating the engineering design process, BrushBots can be constructed, tested and revised as needed for a world of fun.

Tip: Balance is crucial for these little bots as they can tip over. Take care in the placement of the battery and motor so that they have an equal distribution of weight. Wider brush heads are sometimes easier to balance.

In sum, these little bots are simple, fun and great for children of all ages.

Additional Resources

BrushBot Directions

How Does a BrushBot Work?