Friday, February 28, 2014

Brush Bots 2014

I taught another after school class for fourth and fifth graders with brushbots again this year.  The kids really seem to enjoy making them.  We had a few issues with defective parts this year, although in some ways that is okay.  The kids learn how to debug the circuit when things don't work as anticipated.

If you haven't made these before, brush bots are a lot of fun to make and pretty easy.

  First of all  you need a motor, DC 1.5-3 volt with leads attached or a spot to attach wires.   You will also need a way to unbalance the motor, and here I have used an alligator clip.  There is a chance that the clip will fly off and could potentially hit someone, but we haven't really had problems with that.

I like to wire in a switch so you don't have to pull the battery to get the brushbot to stop.  Here I have a slide switch, but  I have to say I like the toggle switches better.

Finally, you will need a power source, a AA battery and a holder.  The holder enables the student to change the battery themselves and keep their brushbot in working order.

The parts that I have links to have worked pretty well with no real  issues.  I did order some directly from China from another distributor, and I have had several of the parts not work.  

I have the kids wire these circuits themselves and use electrical tape to keep everything together.  I don't think turning fourth graders loose with a soldering iron is all that smart.  I have enough trouble with glue guns!

Now, you just need to mount the circuit onto a brush, and let them go.  Initially, I have the kids tape them onto the brushes and move the components around until they move they way they want them to.  Then, it helps to fix them into place with a glue gun.  And, you can decorate them if you want.  These are great fun.  Just be warned, the glue gun is a great tool, but a HUGE distraction with the boys.  They seem to like to glue lots of things other than the parts.

 You can also build in some learning at the same time if you want.  I will be doing that in a couple of weeks as I work this project in my teaching at a local school.  We will start with the idea of atoms, electrons, building a battery, then onto circuits.

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