Mini Bot Mini Lab for mini people

⇒UPDATE From second time running this class.  Changed class substantially.  Day 1 showed Little Bits, Snap Circuits , and wire bulb battery set up to show how a circuits work.  Day 2 showed them several of examples of each robot (see below) and then gave them the materials.  Worked out really well!  ⇐


Mini Bot Mini Lab for Mini People lab is a lab for 5-7 year olds that runs twice a week for 35 minutes each.  The lab will cover basic circuit through squishy circuits, brush bots, drawbots, and if time lemon battery.  Because this is the first time teaching this class I expect it to be dynamic and for this document and class to change a great deal before the end.

Presentation Day – present squishy circuits (robot),  home made brush bot and home made draw bot.

Class 1 – Introduce circuits including battery,  battery tester,  little bits and snap circuits….explore

photo 5

Class 2 – Talk about circuits and introduce squishy circuits. Squishy circuits are designed using two types of dough one conducts electricity the other does not.  reviewShow basic circuit, show short circuit, show parallels circuit, show series circuit.  Play! have on hand the docs from: Squishy Circuits {supplies 9V batteries, 9V battery hookups, lots of LEDs, motor (needs to have a lead not just a wire), buzzer (needs to have a lead not just a wire), wires, cookie cutters, battery tester, squishy dough}

photo 2-4 photo 1-3Class  3 – Squishy circuit again the kids had such a good time but most did not  grasp the electricity flow.


Watch super awesome Sylvia then play!  (supplies: see class one)

For teacher this is a great video for explaining electricity


Class 4 – Show them unbalanced robot put out supplies.  Play!

(Supplies:Milk frothier (, Two double A batteries, tongue depressors, pipe cleaners, masking tape, duct tape, paper cups, anything to make the body out of from the recycle bin)

balancerobotClass 5 – Perfect Unstable robot (make it more stable/less stable, faster, slower, prettier….)
(Supplies: see class 4)

Class 6 – *show them home made brush bots.   Open up the toothbrushes with the motors, review the different type so motors how they work.  Talk about balance, batteries,  and have them start to build. {supplies base (toothbrush, bottle caps), Battery (button 1.5 or 3.0V)motor (spinning from radio shack (needs 3V battery), toothbrush, or adafruit vibrating motor), tape (duct, clear, double sided) decoration (LED, feathers, googlie eyes…..)

Class 7 – Perfect the brush bot…better, faster, more balanced, prettier, open! (see class 6)

Class 8  -introduce draw bots – new motors, new instability, more circuits(Supplies – Cups, motors, tongue depressors  corks, 9 volt battery, electrical tape, markers, paper to draw on, duct tape, masking tape, recycled materials, try sugru for getting motor to stay, old playing cards)

Class 9 – – Play and redesign draw bots (supplies See class 8)

Class 10 – kids worked on one of their robots to present

Presentation Day – Kids present their work

*kids under 7 found this to be very difficult

Lessons learned

1. have many examples prepared in advanced for the kids to use, this serves as both examples and practice for all  the little things that can go wrong.  Have extras of everything on hand as kids are amazingly talented at breaking things and misplacing them.  If you time reread Tinkering: Kids learn by making stuff

2. make less stuff kids need time to play with the robots so they can make them stronger if they break or make them more stable, prettier…..

3. Take more pictures I am sad I have so few the kids did great work.