Recycle Robots



Students use common and recycled materials to create three-dimensional models of robots and then describe them to their classmates.


Construction materials such as newspaper, recycled boxes, paper towel tubes, modeling clay, etc.; art supplies such as paint brushes, scissors, glue, paints, markers, etc.


Robots are important because they do jobs that are too dirty, dull, or dangerous for people. Typical jobs for robots include welding cars on an assembly line, inspecting sewers, and assembling tiny electronic circuits. While some robots like Asimo can perform many impressive feats, most robots are designed to do only one repetitive job. NASA is currently using robots to explore Mars, and future robotic missions are planned to explore other bodies in our solar system. This allows scientists to explore space without the danger of spaceflight.


Inform your students that they will be making model robots to explore the moon. Encourage students to think about what parts a robot would need to do the job (consult the list below for ideas). Remind them that robots look the way they do so that they can complete their job; every part of a robot is important.

Provide the students with various construction materials and craft supplies. You may choose to let the students work in groups or on their own. When students are done, give them an opportunity to browse the other robots that were created.

  Sensing: Robots can use sensors like cameras, microphones, distance sensors, and chemical detectors to find out what is around them.

  Thinking: Will the robots designed today be driven by scientists on Earth, or will they find their own way? Robots that are designed to explore need computers to make decisions on how to get from one place to another.

  Acting: Robots that move around might use wheels, legs, tank treads, or fly. Some robots may not need to move at all.


What parts do the students� robots have in common with people? How are the robots different from people? Would the robots look different if they were designed to build cars? Show images of the Mars rovers. Discuss the kinds of jobs done by the rovers and the data that is sent back to Earth.