This is the question I posed to my third graders one day. Just imagine what they told me!
Of course, they needed a robot, but the imaginings about what the robot could do for them were… maybe not very realistic.
So, we had to back up and really think about what it would mean to own a robot!
So get ready to learn some great tips and build robots!
- Be Realistic!
- Decide what the robot can do for you.
- What will you need to build this robot model? (because it is just a model)
- Can we add some reading to this project?
The first time I talked with third graders about this challenge they gave me some of these reasons to have a robot:
- To play video games
- To do your homework
- To save the galaxy (my all-time favorite answer)
- To help my mom
So, we stopped right there and I posed the situation like this:
What if you could walk into Target or Wal Mart and go to the robot aisle? You know, like the cereal has its own aisle. If you could stroll down the robot aisle, what kind of robot would you choose?
The robot would have to do something specific that you would need. Even though saving the galaxy is a noble thought, would someone really buy this? Probably not. So they started thinking more. I also had to make sure they knew what the word specific means. The idea of helping their mom is fabulous, but what would the robot help her do? (Moms do a lot of things!) This helped them narrow down the robot choices.
What Can the Robot Do for You?
- Clean up your room
- Mow the lawn
- Vacuum or clean up garbage
- Cook for your mom
Those sound better, don’t they? Seriously, I would buy all of those!
Take a look at the two photos to the left. The robot on the far left is sweeping up a mess. That is definitely a robot that a mom would buy!
The robot on the right is a yard mowing robot. The flap on his head lifts so it can empty the yard clippings into his garbage can body. Pretty clever!
TIP: Have groups tell you what their robot idea is and help them narrow the focus down if necessary. For example, if they want a dad helper robot, talk to them about what their dad does that he always seems to not like. A robot doing that chore would be great!
What will you need to build this robot model?
Normally when my students have a STEM Challenge I give them a bin of materials to use. With these robots, I did give them all some of the same items- like cardboard tubes and tape.
For the main parts of the robots, I had a supply table of items from which they could choose. They chose the things they felt they needed based on their designs.
TIP: We did talk about choosing what they needed! Sometimes kids will just grab some of everything and then it is wasted. So have a talk first and then let them gather their materials. In the photo to the left the robot is a cleanup robot that sucks up dirt and places it in his garbage can head. (We had a lot of garbage can heads in this class!)
Take a look at Baking Betsy!
Betsy bakes desserts for mom! I would buy this robot because we love sweets at my house, but I hate the chore of gathering ingredients and then washing all the mixing bowls!
Imagine being able to buy a robot to perform a specific task- like baking or pooper scooping? Hmmm… I would definitely buy that one!
Can We Add Some Reading to the Project?
Absolutely, and I have two perfect books to suggest!
The Wild Robot
Have you read this one? It is just a fabulous little book that tells the story of a robot named Roz that finds herself alone on an island after a shipwreck during a hurricane. This turns into a story of friendship between Roz and the animals of the island, including an orphaned goose that she adopts. This is a great read-aloud chapter book for your kids. After the book is finished they can build a model of a robot!
Speaking of robots built after reading a book this is exactly what we did in first grade one day.
Take a look at the photo to see the first grader’s robots.
We read a picture book and then designed our robots. I gave the groups a cup, some craft sticks, and interlocking cubes, and scrap construction paper. They loved this challenge! And here is the book that inspired it!
The Bot That Scott Built
The children in the book are enjoying a science museum and the page reads,
“This is the bot, the bippity bot, the rabbit-eared robot, that Scott built.”
Each page continues the story adding another line about the robot, the curious class, the class that gawked, and so on. Each page ends with the same words about the bot that Scott built. It only took about two pages before the first graders were totally part of the book as they repeated that line. The book has some hilarious moments when the ant farm gets turned over and the carnivorous plants are eating flies. There’s also a frog, a boa, and a volcano! The kids loved it!
Your groups will also love building robots!