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Can you make a brush bot to compete in a 1m sprint?


Core National Curriculum links

Science, DT

Main engineering principles

  • Pupils take ownership of the design and make process


A series of lessons


System thinking, Adapting, Problem finding, Creative problem solving, Visualising, Improving

EDP stages

Imagine, Create, Improve

Resources required

  • Toothbrushes. 
  • Running track (to race the brush bots) 
  • Components to make a circuit (a variety of motors, wires and batteries).
  • Various art resources to enhance the pupils's designs. 
  • Glue gun.

Summary of activity

The pupils will design and make a moving brush bot to compete in a 1m Olympic race.

To open the activity

Introduce what a brush bot robot looks like by watching a brush bot clip linked to the Olympics.
Discuss what the pupils need to think about before designing their brush bot. For example: How will your brush bot move? What will effect the speed of your brush bot? How can you make your brush bot travel efficiently? Does the weight of your brush bot have an impact on its' speed and movement?

The main activity

Lesson 1 - The pupils need to explore a range of small-moving toys, making links with problem finding by looking at existing solutions, for example: Hexbugs.  The pupils then need to investigate what factors will make their bugs go the fastest. The pupils need to make connections between what they have explored and the actual question. Next the pupils need to record to generate ideas and solutions by applying knowledge from the Hexbugs. Pupils will manipulate materials, mentally rehearsing practical design solutions for their brush bot. 
Lesson 2 - Using their visualisations, pupils will make their brush bot. Encourage creative problem solving, systems thinking, experimenting and adapting. Make sure the running track is available for the pupils to test and use critical thinking skills to allow the pupils to analyse their ideas and change their minds in light of evidence.  
Lesson 3 - Give the pupils opportunities to evaluate and adapt their brush bots by reflecting and rethinking their design in preparation for the race. Ensure the track is available for the pupils to test. Make opportunities for pupils to give and receive feedback on the efficiency of their brush bot. Pupils to record and evaluate their final product.

Challenge and support

Use a variety of open-ended questions. 

To finish the activity

Pupils to race their brush bots and evaluate the winning design. Which brush bot would go the fastest?

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