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Stuck at home? Let’s make the most of it!

Let’s make the most of staying at home. 

What is a robot? This week on Make it! DIY, discover five creative approaches to this question, from building motorized wigglebots to the ever-popular, “Program Your Grownup.”

We’re glad so many of you could join us at Make it! Summer Camp — we’ve had a great time! Today is your last chance to sign up for the final week of camp. Be sure to look out for more live, interactive fun this fall when we launch Make it! After-School.

But for now… Ready. Set. Make it!

KID Robotics

1. What is a Robot? Making Analog Robot Models

Robots are machines programmed by humans to complete different tasks. They come in all shapes and sizes, and often don’t look like the robots you see on TV. Watch the videos below to learn about what robots are and all the different kinds of things we use them for around the world. Then, design your own model of a robot out of recycled materials. If you could bring your robot to life, what kind of task would it complete?

Suggested Materials:
– Cardboard boxes, empty tin cans or other recycled materials for the body of your robot
– Scissors
– Tape
– Glue
– Pencil and paper for sketching out your robot
– Colored pencils or markers
– Optional: aluminum foil, paint, straws, pipe cleaners and other supplies for decorating!

Tips and Thoughts:
– Start by thinking about what task you’d like your robot to complete, What parts will it need to have or what shape should it be?
– Draw a design sketch of your robot before building. Write down any special features or movements your robot will need to do and list materials you will need.
– How could a robot help make the world a better place?

Potential Resources:
What is a robot? How do we use robots in real life? 
Ten robots that will change the world. 
Written Instructions: Robot Facts for Kids

Take this challenge to the next level: These robots are making the earth and Greener place! 

2. Program Your Grown-Up

Computer programming or “coding” is how humans give instructions to a computer or robot in order to complete a specific task. Ever wondered what it would be like if your grown-ups acted just like robots? Put your coding skills to the test by writing out exact instructions for a specific task, such as drawing a butterfly or making a sandwich. Then challenge your grown-ups (or siblings) to follow your “code” and do only exactly what you wrote down.

Suggested Materials:
– Paper
– Pencil
– Grown-up
– Any materials needed to complete the task you are writing instructions for.

Tips and Thoughts
– How can you break the task down into specific steps? What happens first? What happens second?
– Try walking through the entire task before writing instructions. The order of the instructions are very important!
– Good codes are sequenced and specific. Use as much detail as possible to get your code right.

Potential Resources:
Drawing Challenge
How to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich: 
Written Instructions

Take this challenge to the next level.

3. Wigglebots

Bring your recyclables to life! in this challenge, build a simple circuit with a motor and attach it to the “body” of your robot so that it wiggles across the table.

Suggested Materials:
Simple Circuit Kit
– Tape
– Cork
– Plastic Cup or other small recyclable container
– Optional: Other discarded parts for decorating, paper and marker

Tips and Thoughts
– Start by building a simple circuit with a motor. Don’t forget the attach the cork to the peg of your motor so that it vibrates!
– Challenge yourself to attach the motor to the body of your wiggle bot so that the cork can still spin
– How can you make your wiggle bot move in different ways?
– Want to take it up a notch? Challenge yourself to make your wiggle bot DRAW by attaching a marker!

Potential Resources:
Video for Younger Students
Video for Older Students 
Written Instructions

4. Robotic Arms

Many robots have moving parts and other mechanisms that help them complete their tasks. Some robots even have hands for picking up and manipulating objects! These prosthetic limbs can help people who are missing arms or fingers. Make your own robotic arms using simple household materials.

Suggested Materials:
– Cardboard
– Paper
– Scissors
– Tape
– Straws
– String

Tips and Thoughts
See examples of robotic arms and hands that can help people 
– What can you use your robotic arm to pick up? How might changing the size and shape of the hand affect what objects it can manipulate?
– Don’t want to make a whole hand? How can you use the same mechanism to make a simpler hook or grabber for smaller objects?

Potential Resources:
Video for Younger Students
Video for Older Students
Written Instructions

5. Intro to Micro:bit

A microbit is a small computer called a “micro-controller” which can be easily programmed to complete different tasks, such as displaying messages, reading the temperature, or sending messages to other microbits! You can learn about coding this tiny device using a completely free web-based platform called Makecode.

Use the simulator to test out how a Microbit would respond to your code in real life or use MakeCode Arcade to design and test your own retro arcade games. You do NOT need to have a microbit to explore the simulator, available at

Suggested Materials:
– Laptop with internet access
– Visit
– Page opened to for more advanced game coding
– Optional: Microbit 

Tips and Thoughts
– Click “New Project” on the landing page to get started!
– Start with blocks in the “Basic” column and watch as they appear on the microbit simulator on the left hand side of the screen
– Inputs are ways that robots and computers take in information in order to start running their programs. Examples for the microbit include buttons and sensors!
– If you are coding a video game, remember thats a “Sprite” is just another word for character. You game will have different types of characters including “players”, “Enemies” and “food”

Potential Resources:
What is a Microbit? 
Video for Younger Students
Video for Older Students: Intro to MakeCode Arcade! 

Take this challenge to the next level: Look at the Microbit robot made by a 10 year old in Syria! 

We'd love to see what you make!

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