Robotic Prototyping

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By the end of this unit, learners will be able:
  • To define and describe a robot, its functions, and what it can and cannot do.
  • To design a robot prototype that can serve humankind.
  • To express new insights and learning about robots through oral communication.


Initial Design Activity
  • marshmallows
  • toothpicks

  • Learners, in their small groups, build a robot in human form out of toothpicks and marshmallows.


Design a Robot Prototype
Materials Needed

  • Encourage groups to work on their challenge but give learners the choice of doing this alone or with a partner.
  • Give the students the following directions:
    • Decide on a task for a robot to do to help a person who has no or limited used of his or her arms - catching a ball, digging a hole or washing the dishes.
    • Be creative in your solutions -- think about how various animals and machines perform different tasks.
    • Draw a robot to do your task.
    • Scan your drawings and put the details in the wikipage given to you by the instructor. Address the Gathering Information questions below.
    • Use household junk or construction materials.
    • Distribute the Arts and Bots Student Handbook which contains the steps to the process to guide them.

  • Write a story about your robot using StoryJumper and put it in your wikipage.
  • Read story to the rest of the learners.

Appendix: Gathering Information - for Ask, Imagine, and Plan steps.
Gathering Information
1. What is the practical function of the design? (What must my robot do?)
A design's practical functions can include:
  • movement How will the robot move within its environment? If it were put in a different environment, would it still be able to move within this new space?
  • manipulation How will the robot move or manipulate other objects within its environment? Can a single robot move or manipulate more than one kind of object?
  • energy How is the robot powered? Can it have more than one energy source?
  • intelligence How does the robot "think?" What does it mean to say that a robot "thinks?"
  • sensing How will my robot "know" or figure out what's in its environment? If it were put in a different environment, would it be able to figure out this new environment
2. What part does appearance (shape and form, surface texture, color, etc.) play in the design's function? What does the robot look like? Is there a reason for it to look as it does?
Shape and form are important to a design's aesthetic qualities, ergonomics, strength, stability, rigidity, safety
Surface texture, finish and color can be appropriate to a design's:aesthetic qualities, mechanical, optical and thermal properties, durability, etc.
3. What materials are suitable for the design?
The properties of a material will determine its suitability for a design. There are many different types of materials that can be and are used in the construction of robots.* strength, hardness, toughness, density
  • durability
  • and the aesthetic qualities determined by colour, surface texture, pattern, etc.
The materials cost and availability are also important factors.
4. What construction methods are appropriate to the design?
Construction techniques fall into the categories of:
  • cutting and shaping
  • fabrication - the assembly of the parts using screws, bolts, glues, solder, etc
  • molding - by the application of a force on the material
  • casting - using a mold to form the shape of a solidifying material
A particular material can only be worked in a limited number of ways. The method of construction therefore will be determined by the chosen material, the availability of manufacturing facilities, the skills of the work force and the production costs.
5. What are the likely social and environmental effects of the design?
The manufacture, use and disposal of any product will have both beneficial and detrimental effects upon people, wildlife and the environment. The designer therefore, has an enormous responsibility to consider very carefully the potential effects of any new design. This will include: health and safety factors, noise, smell, pollution, etc.

The Challenge
Gifted Student

If a gifted student becomes interested in any topics researched during their Internet searches, then he or she could visit with one of the experts from Los Alamos Labs or Intel corporation.

Gifted students in this area can make plans for participation in the New Mexico Science Olympiad -
Non-readers & Reading Dyslexia
Assistive Technology
A screen-reader can be used so students can listen to the written information being presented in the website searches.
Learning Disabilities
Use of Color-Coded File Folders
A file folder is created for EACH project/Internet research project. The project description and the journal question is attached to the inside covers of the file folders.
Each working group is provided with a copy of the reflection questions: