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Tutorials
04
Oct
tin can bot
4 October 2011 Tuesday

Part art, part science, & part saving the environment, this project has something for everyone!  With a little imagination, a soup can, and a pile of do-dads, you can create a creature with special powers and clean out the kitchen junk drawer at the same time!

You Need:

  • Empty soup can (or corn, or beans or diced tomatoes…).  You can also use an aluminum soda can.
  • Strong tape.  We recommend duct tape or aluminum foil tape (really cool metallic tape found in the hardware store in the painting aisle with the masking tapes, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Wire
  • Miscellaneous hardware such as nuts, bolts, screws, fasteners, clamps, etc.
  • Anything else you can find around the house or in the garage that isn’t attached to something important
  • Bottle caps and lids

How to Do It:

1.  When we make these robots in the studio, children first plan and design the robot on paper and are required to think of five special powers that are unique only to their robot, and that no other robot or human will share with them.  For example, one special power might be the ability to watch the Disney Channel on demand when they close their bot eye and plug their bot finger into a device on the top of their head.  If they have the ability to watch more than one channel, this still just counts as one special power.  You get the picture.

2.  From that point, the objective is to find odds & ends to make their special powers come to life! All materials are securely fastened to the can with duct tape or foil tape.  Hot glue may be used with adult supervision.

3.  Robots need a way to communicate with the home office in outer space and transmit encrypted signals to their colleagues in Des Moines, IA.  Wire or bent paper clips come in handy for this purpose as they have superior conductivity powers.  Because they are not ladybugs, robot antennae do not necessarily need to be attached on the top of their heads and curl at the end.  Be strategic in the placement of the antennae so that they will not get destroyed when they go through a car wash (or another preferred showering method), or poke someone’s eye out when they ride in the elevator on the way to important meetings.

4.  Next, robots need a way to see.  A single properly placed “eyeball” or lens is generally sufficient, and because they do not resemble human eyes, they could be made out of virtually any random item such as a lug nut or washer.

5.  Robots of course need a power source such as a battery pack or solar panel.  A backup energy source is always recommended for long trips to visit the in-laws.

6 .  Bots like to be very mobile.  Devise a method for them to quickly get from one place to another.  This could be a propellor, roller skates, or a turbo pack.

7.  Robots often like to disguise themselves as humans so that their cover isn’t blown during a quick trip to Target.  Use your imagination to create a fashionable wardrobe for your robot.  They don’t like to be too trendy, so silly bandz and hair feathers may be of little interest to them.

8.  Lastly, robots are very social creatures and love to hang out at the mall with their friends.  So you’ll need to make at least a half dozen of these to keep everyone happy!

 

 

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