Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Big Hero 6 Inspired Vibrot Battle-Bots


We caught a super-discount matinee showing of Disney's Big Hero 6 (an exciting and necessary occurrence when you're buying eight tickets at a time).   We enjoyed the movie.  The story is a little predictable (nice for the younger children), but strange at the same time, with its Disney/Marvel Comic/anime combination (nice for the teens), and it's filled from start to finish with science projects (a stem teacher's dream). 

I came home all pumped up, and ready to lay out at least a week's worth of follow up projects.  First off, I checked out the movie website to see if Disney was offering any good "ready made" ideas.  They do have a few printable, science themed, go-along sheets for the movie, but while they'd done a good job linking old kid-science ideas to the movie's characters...
...they were all kind of been-there-and-done experiments for us.  I checked Amazon too, hoping against hope, that Disney was marketing some kind of robotics kit, or magnetic science set, but they weren't (note to the Disney marketing staff - you missed a golden opportunity on that one).

So instead, I made a quick run to Radio Shack for a few extra hobby motors (they price between $3.00 and $6.00 a piece - so not bad, really), and raided our old science kits, and craft cupboard for whatever interesting bits and bobs I could find for robot building...


...or rather, vibrot building - robotics being a tad advanced for an afternoon, during Thanksgiving week, project.  Instead, I built a prototype based on the Exploratorium's scribblebot (click the link for instructions)...


...with a hobby motor, offset by a clothespin (to make it vibrate)...


...attached to the top of a paper cup, with craft stick legs (in place of the marker legs of the scribblebot)...


 ...with alligator clip wires running from the motor to a AA battery, taped to a craft stick, with an on/off button created by covering the ends of the battery with tinfoil (scrunched up at the edges to make posts for attaching the alligator clips) covered in clear tape (to protect fingers)...


...so that when the tape is pressed, the tinfoil touches the battery, completing the circuit...


...causing the offset motor to spin...


...and vibrate...


...and slowly "walk" the vibrot...


...across the table.


After seeing me playing with (or demonstrating, as I like to call it) my creation, the children were ready to design their own vibrots. 


Which, of course, they used as battle bots, as soon as they had them working (thanks to the battle bot scenes from the movie).


At that point, I moved the action to the floor to save what's left of our tabletop.


There was some talk about adding balloons and needles to the bots (the bot popping the others' balloons would be the winner), or open markers (the most marked up bot would be the loser), but in the end...


...it was decided that the bots could just bump into each other, until they were all knocked over, or disabled...


...with the last bot standing (and still running) declared...


...the winner.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

7 comments:

Michelle said...

Great movie and excellent post!! This movie inspired us as well, we ordered the LEGO mindstorms Robotics set and I cannot believe how much it has kept them entertained and learning!!

Angelic Scalliwags said...

What a fun afternoon! I might steal this idea for our homeschool group when they are next here as it seems perfect for a large age variance and might keep them entertained one rainy afternoon.

Tearri Rivers said...

Love it! I love how they made this project their own. Thank youfor sharing.

Natalie PlanetSmartyPants said...

This is so cool! We did a Lego Drawbot on a similar principle, but this one, I think, would be easier for my 8 year old to do independently!

Ticia said...

I can't wait to see that movie, and you're right total missed opportunity on Disney's part.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I've heard great things about that movie, but we're waiting for it to come out on video. The robots you made are very cute!

Bethany said...

Thanks for all of the links. We haven't made robots for awhile. We will have to make a scribble not now.