Monday, October 26, 2015

Maker Project: Artbots!

For this summer's maker program, I wanted to make artbots! I discovered artbots through the fabulous Show Me Librarian. I had originally planned on copying her program exactly (true confession) but I could not get enough of the Luminant brand electric toothbrushes at my local dollar stores. This was pretty disappointing, but I thought I would share some instructions for how to make this project work with the GB brand instead.

Please note that the Luminant brand toothbrushes work out to be cheaper as they include a bettery. GB toothbrushs do not, so the project is marginally more expensive (instead of $1/artbot, it's more like $1.25 with dollar store batteries). So I don't expect many people on a tight budget to attempt this way but if you're having trouble sourcing enough Luminant, this is an option. Please note you may be able to buy either brand (GB or Luminant)  in bulk from the Dollar Tree's website. This was not an option for me due to the scourge of Temporary Backorder. We had dud toothbrushes of both brands, so be sure to account for that possibility as well.

One other difference to be aware of between brands is that the Luminant ones are larger in diameter and fit very snugly inside the pool noodle housing. The GB is smaller in diameter and may need a little bit of help (duct tape) to keep it inside. The Luminant feels more powerful to me as well, but that could be a function of motor or battery power. Here are some really simple instructions for building an artbot with a Luminant toothbrush.

It is a bit tricky to access the battery compartment on the GB toothbrushes, so I decided to take care of that step ahead of time since we had so many kids (32) register for this program. I also had a volunteer cut the pool noodles down ahead of time (into sixths).

Supply List (all supplies from our local Dollar Tree unless otherwise noted): 
1) 35 GB brand travel electric toothbrushes ($1 each)
2) 48 Sunshine brand alkaline AA batteries ($1 per package of 4)
3) Many rolls of duct tape (various sources)
4) Rubber bands (library owned)
5) Skinny markers ($1 per set of 20)
6) 6 pool noodles ($1 each) buy the kind with grooves for the markers to rest nicely
7) Bulletin board paper to cover the tables (library owned)
8) Pipe cleaners (library owned) for hair-- sticks into the pool noodle
9) Googly eyes (library owned)--used glue dots to attach
10) Scissors (library owned)

Instructions for building an artbot with GB brand Dollar Tree Toothbrushes: 

1. Put the battery in the toothbrush. Test it to make sure it works.
2.  Put the cap on the toothbrush and place the entire toobrush inside the hollow center of the pool noodle. I recommend that the button to turn the toothbrush on be on the top of the artbot.
3. Rubber band 3-5 skinny markers in the grooves of the pool noodles. Leave the markers capped until ready to test.
4. Test the artbot and make adjustments, if needed. Sometimes they balance too well.
5. When satisfied with the function of the artbot, it's time to decorate. Duct tape over the rubber bands and add decorations as desired. You may wish to add a strip of duct tape to the bottom of your artbot, over the hole, to keep the toothbrush from falling out as the robot moves. Scotch tape will also work.

If you're looking for another fun robotics idea, last summer we made bristlebots! Artbots are even easier and cheaper too! They would be a great program for a librarian new to "making" or robotics to tackle. 

2 comments:

I'm looking for a STEM program for school-aged kids, and this looks like a great possibility! I just wanted to be sure I'm understanding the directions....You just put the whole intact toothbrush inside the pool noodle, did not do the more complicated deconstruction and reconfigurations as described here: https://cheshirelibraryscience.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/program-34-artbots/ ??

Yes, we put the whole toothbrush in, intact. Too many kids to follow all those directions. :)